Giants struggle to score again in loss to Rangers

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Giants struggle to score again in loss to Rangers

BOX SCORE

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Whether it is as a starter or long reliever, Alexi Ogando just wants to pitch for the Texas Rangers and help them reach the World Series for the third straight season.He made his first spring start Friday night and gave up three hits in 4 2-3 shutout innings in the Rangers' 4-1 victory over San Francisco at Scottsdale Stadium.Elvis Andrus broke a scoreless tie with an RBI single off Giants starter Madison Bumgarner in the fifth inning and Texas scored three more on four hits in the ninth off reliever Javier Lopez. The Giants also scored in the ninth on Brett Pill's home run."I felt good out there, worked on both sides of the plate," said Ogando, who walked three and struck out three. "As far as I can remember, it is my best of the spring."Ogando is ticketed to start the regular season in the bullpen, although he did start 29 of his 31 games in 2011 and posted a 13-8 record."I am ready for anything. Having a couple of starts (in the spring) will help just in case. I want to be ready for any occasion," Ogando said.Andrus' hit to center field scored Mitch Moreland from second base in the fifth, and the play might have been even more significant for the Giants.The play at the plate was the first such play in a game situation for catcher Buster Posey after Posey was lost for the season last on May 25 when he broke a bone in his left leg and tore three ankle ligaments on a collision at the plate with Florida's Scott Cousins.Posey admitted he probably stepped more away from the plate than in the past and put a swipe tag on Moreland that missed on the throw from Angel Pagan."It wasn't that much different than last year," Posey said. "Instincts take over and you just try to get the man out. You work on those types of plays, but no play is the same, short hop, long hop, left or right."He said a catcher gets a sense of whether the play is going to be close.If the Giants position Posey where he is not directly in the line of fire, there is a chance it might make a difference in an extra run or two for the opponent.That is fine with Bumgarner, who said he was thinking about a play at the plate as the play developed."I agree with that (decision)," Bumgarner said. "One run is not worth losing Buster for the whole season."Moreland didn't realize people were keeping such close attention to Posey's play at the plate."I did what I needed to get in there," Moreland said. "He gave me the plate. That's why I slid on the outer half. There was not going to be a collision."The run was the only one given up by the left-handed Bumgarner, who scattered eight hits, walked two and struck out five in 5 2-3 innings."I felt a lot more ready (for the regular season), as close to ready as I can be," Bumgarner said. "I worked the fastball down and away. They (Texas) have the best-hitting lineup of anybody, so I felt good only giving up one run."Notes: Just a few days after signing a new contract, Texas left-hander Derek Holland pitched in a minor-league game, facing San Diego's Triple-A Tucson team and giving up one run on three hits in five innings with five strikeouts . . . Japanese star pitcher Yu Darvish is scheduled to make his next start for the Rangers on Sunday in a minor-league intrasquad game . . . Giants reliever Sergio Romo pitched for the first time since March 13 due to an elbow issue. He pitched one shutout inning.

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

WASHINGTON – Albert Almora Jr. didn’t use Wednesday’s Oval Office photo op as a subtle form of political protest, but it did sort of look like the Cubs outfielder gave President Donald Trump the middle finger, at least from that angle in an image that went viral on Twitter.    

“There was two fingers! Look closely, there was two fingers!” a veteran player yelled across the room as reporters gathered around Almora’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. 

“Guys were giving me a hard time about it,” Almora said, “but I pointed out the second finger. We’re all good.”

In another White House visit that didn’t look nearly as unofficial or informal as the Cubs said it would be, one snapshot became Almora with part of his left hand in his pocket. Almora stood near Kris Bryant – who held a 45 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel – and Trump at his desk with the World Series trophy.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Almora said with a laugh. “I’m getting ready to take a picture and I’m posing there. But you guys know that I would never do that to the president of the United States. 

“I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”

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Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants were annoyed by Monday’s “rubbing teammates the wrong way” report for a number of reasons, but near the top of the list was the fact that the target, Mark Melancon, has been pitching hurt to try and help a last-place team. That’s no longer the case. 

Melancon went on the DL on Wednesday morning and later had a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection in his right arm to try and ease some of the discomfort in his pronator. He is expected to be out the rest of the first half. Melancon would be eligible to return with two games left until the break, but there’s no point in rushing him. He missed 12 games the first time this came up and he now has more than two weeks to rest before the second half kicks off. 

In the meantime, Sam Dyson is the closer, but he was unavailable Wednesday because of a heavy workload. So Bruce Bochy got creative to close out a 5-3 win over the Rockies. George Kontos came on for a sharp Ty Blach in the seventh and carried the lead to the eighth. Steven Okert got through the 26th out and Hunter Strickland came in to get Ian Desmond to fly out for his first save of the year. 

Because Bochy wanted Kontos to face Pat Valaika in the eighth, he got an at-bat 15 hours after Cory Gearrin got to take his hacks. It at first looked like Kontos had “don’t swing” orders, but he fouled a ball off. 

“The second fastball I got, if it was near the plate, I was going to swing,” he said. 

Kontos said he doesn’t have bragging rights over Gearrin because he fouled a ball off, noting that Gearrin is 1 for 2 in his career and he is 0 for 8. It turns out that they used the same bat, too. Yes, there is a Cory Gearrin model.

“It’s just been hanging out since last year,” Gearrin said, looking down at his equipment bag. “Just in case.”

--- Dan Slania woke up a 4:30, drove to Philadelphia, and boarded a flight that was went down through Nashville to fuel up. He arrived in San Francisco in time for the second inning. And then he watched, met with old teammates, showered … and prepared to fly all the way back to Pennsylvania. 

“I’m going to pass out as soon as I get on the plane,” Slania said. 

He wasn’t complaining at all. The Giants needed a potential innings-eater with Melancon on the DL, and if Slania is sent back down before Friday’s game, he’ll at least be back near Double-A Richmond and the flight back will have been taken on a chartered jet with a bunch of former teammates. Plus he gets a couple of service days. 

“I can tell you it’s well worth it,” Bochy said. 

--- The main story today is about Jae-gyun Hwang, who brought some more life to a team that got its first sweep of the year. The standings are what they are, but the Giants are playing much better, and some players started talking Wednesday about how they’re looking forward to being a spoiler for teams like the Rockies and Diamondbacks. 

More than anything, the players are just happy that they got to listen to the victory soundtrack again and walk out of this park with smiles. 

“We did a really good job of coming into this series and decided what the intent should be,” Nick Hundley said. “We weren’t going to worry about what’s been going on. You control what you can control. It’s nice when the results match up.”

There was a players-only meeting on Monday and Hundley said “everybody got on the same page again.”

Now the tricky part: Keeping it going on the road. 

--- Nolan Arenado is a freak and the Giants should give him a blank check, a ton of Facebook stock, and the rights to the Salesforce building when he’s a free agent in two and a half seasons. 

--- Ryder Jones is hitless in 16 at-bats but he was keeping his head up. He was an inch or two from a double down the line Wednesday and the Giants feel he’s having good at-bats. More than anything, he's not taking those results into the field and he talked about that at length when we sat down for a podcast the other day. If you subscribe on iTunes here, you’ll have it in the morning.