Giants swept in the desert

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Giants swept in the desert

BOX SCORE
PHOENIX (AP) -- Winning 10 games may seem like a modest goal for a pitcher. Not one who didn't make his first career start until May.Josh Collmenter pitched seven strong innings and Miguel Montero had two RBIs to help the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the San Francisco Giants 5-2 on Sunday for a three-game sweep.Collmenter (10-10) allowed five hits and two runs for his second win against the Giants this season. Collmenter struck out four and walked one."It's been one heck of a ride this year," Collmenter said.Collmenter made one start with Triple-A Reno and seven appearances out of the bullpen before making his first start on May 14 at Los Angeles.He's had both highs - a 12-inning scoreless streak to begin his career as a starter - and lows - a four-game midseason losing streak - while relying primarily on just two pitches, a fastball and a changeup."I worked on that third pitch (a curveball) to make it a weapon all the time," Collmenter said.Aaron Hill and Colin Cowgill also had run-scoring hits for the Diamondbacks, who have won six of seven heading into a season-ending series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.Though Arizona has clinched the NL West title, the Diamondbacks remain a game behind Milwaukee in an attempt to gain home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs."Our intentions are to win out," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "We may. We may not. But wherever we have to go on Saturday, that's fine. It's good times. It's fun."J.J. Putz pitched the ninth for his 45th save.Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton was hit on the front of the helmet by Giants starter Tim Lincecum (13-14) in the first.He initially remained in the game and scored Arizona's second run, but left after the inning for precautionary reasons. Neurological tests on Upton were negative and he is listed day to day."If you're going to get hit in the dome that's probably the best place," Putz said.Carlos Beltran and Andres Torres homered in the sixth for the Giants, who have lost five of six including four straight."It was embarrassing," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Matt (Cain) threw a great game (Friday) and it could have gone either way. But the last two, we were ugly. There is no getting around it. That is not the way we want to finish up."The Diamondbacks took a 2-0 lead against Lincecum in the first. Hill drew a one-out walk and went to second when Upton was hit in the helmet. Both scored when Montero followed with a double into the right-center field gap."We've had good luck when guys hit J-Up this year," Gibson said. "Fortunately he hasn't been seriously injured, but we've done well in those situations."Lincecum said the pitch to Upton affected his original game plan."I was kind of afraid to go in for fear that kind of stuff would happen again," said Lincecum, who approached the plate to check on Upton and also sent a message to the right fielder."I had one of the players send a message over there saying that it was a complete accident and I had no intention of doing that."I just kind of lost it. I was trying to go low and away and it was the complete opposite."Paul Goldschmidt led off the fourth with a double to right and Cowgill made it 3-0 with a one-out double to right field.Hill drove in Gerardo Parra on a ground-rule double in the fifth and scored on a ground out for a 5-0 lead.Lincecum allowed five runs and eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts.Notes: Giants C Chris Stewart was shaken up when a Lincecum pitch bounced up and hit him on the left cheek in the fifth. Stewart finished the inning, but gave way to Hector Sanchez in the top of the seventh. ... Giants manager Bruce Bochy was ejected by second base umpire Gary Darling in the bottom of the fifth for arguing after Parra stole second. Stewart's throw to Jeff Keppinger easily beat the runner, but Darling ruled the second baseman had missed the tag. Replays were inconclusive. ... The Diamondbacks went over 2,000,000 in attendance. Sunday's crowd was announced at 41,423, raising the total for the three-game series to 132,925 and the season to 2,010,340.

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a very important fact you need to keep in mind when talk of Johnny Cueto’s opt-out comes up, as it so often will over the next six weeks: The Giants always expected him to opt-out after this season, from the moment the ink was dry on the six-year, $130-million contract. 

When you sign at the top of your game and have a chance to hit the market at 31 years old and cash out a second time, you take it. Those are just the rules of professional sports. On the day Cueto was introduced, his agent, Bryce Dixon, said the two-year opt-out was important because they felt Cueto didn’t get a totally fair shot at free agency. 

“Johnny, a little bit unfairly, had a lot of questions about his arm,” Dixon said in December of 2015. “I felt we could reestablish his actual value … He knows he’s as good as (David) Price and (Zack) Greinke, but his situation was a little different.”

The Giants were fine with this, too. The flip side of the opt-out is that if you have the chance to pay a dominant right-hander $46 million over two years, and then escape his mid- to late-thirties, you do it. Every time. You don’t even blink. 

So, here we are, in June of the second year of that deal, with reports that Cueto will opt out. You should take a deep breath because you should have already expected this. But if you didn’t, take comfort in this: By all indications, Cueto has not made a decision, even with the Giants having an unimaginably poor season. 

First of all, Cueto can't make a decision in June. What if the blisters return and he repeats his April ERA a couple more times? What if his elbow starts barking? There are no guarantees with pitchers, and until Cueto gets through the second season, there will be no finality with his decision. 

Aside from the fact that he really can’t make that decision, though, sources insist Cueto hasn’t made up his mind or even thought much about it. People familiar with his thinking continue to say the focus has been baseball all season long, from spring training through his last start. 

Cueto is said to be happy in San Francisco and he enjoys pitching in front of the crowd at AT&T Park. His biggest concern has been wins and losses, and in that respect, this has been a disappointing year for all involved. 

That record has brought the Giants to a crossroads, and this is where it gets interesting. The easy solution is to trade Cueto next month, avoid the opt-out situation entirely, and add prospects to a system lacking them. But, it’s complicated. The Giants do not intend a full teardown, and if they’re going for it again in 2018 — with their core of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Madison Bumgarner, etc. locked in, that’s the plan — they’ll want that second ace at the top of the rotation. And if Bumgarner doesn’t return to form after an injury, they’ll need Cueto’s presence. 

The Giants have until July 31 to decide what to do with Cueto. He has until three days after the World Series ends to decide what to do with his contract. Here in June, by all indications, those decisions haven’t been made. 

Giants lineup: Pence hitting third, Panik back into two-hole

Giants lineup: Pence hitting third, Panik back into two-hole

Clutch, late-game hitting by Hunter Pence has propelled him to the three hole as the Giants look to bounce back vs the Braves. Bruce Bochy has released the rest of his lineup for Game 2 of the series...

San Francisco Giants:
1. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 3B
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Austin Slater (R) LF
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Nick Hundley (R) C
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Matt Cain (R) P

Atlanta Braves:
1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
7. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
8. Johan Camargo (S) 3B
9. Jaime Garcia (L) P