Instant Replay: Giants 6, Astros 3

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Instant Replay: Giants 6, Astros 3

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO Madison Bumgarner and Brandon Belt hit their first home runs of the season and the Giants opened a three-game series against the Houston Astros with a 6-3 win.Starting pitching report: Madison Bumgarner struck out the side in the first inning and cruised through 7.2 dominant innings, as he allowed two runs, just one earned, en route to his sixth win of the season.The Astros unearned run came in the third inning, when Jose Altuve reached on a two-out throwing error by Brandon Crawford on a routine ground ball. Crawfords throw sailed wide of Brandon Belt, allowing Altuve to advance to second, where he didnt stay for long. After stealing third base, Altuve trotted home on Brian Bixlers bloop single.Bumgarner was in cruise control from that point on, as he put together 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and fifth. The Giants young southpaw didnt allow an extra-base hit until the eighth inning, issued no walks and struck out 12, his seventh career double-digit strikeout game. All but one of Bumgarners strikeouts were swinging.His final line: 7.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 12 K (98 pitches, 70 for strikes).Bumgarner is now 13-2 with a 1.99 ERA in his last fifteen home starts after going 0-5 with a 5.82 ERA in his first seven starts at 3rd & King to start the 2011 campaign.Bullpen report: Sergio Romo entered the game with two outs in the eighth, a 4-2 lead and a runner on second. Five pitches later, all Frisbee sliders, he returned to the dugout with his standard flash and gave way to Clay Hensley in the ninth.Hensley walked pinch-hitter Jordan Schafer to lead off the final frame, but rebounded with two quick outs, including a fielders choice that could have been a game-ending double play if fielded cleanly by Brandon Belt. With two outs and a runner on second, Bruce Bochy turned to Javier Lopez to face lefty Jason Castro, who doubled down the right field line on the second pitch he saw from Lopez to cut the Giants lead to 6-3.Bochy turned to closer Santiago Casilla for the final out. Pinch-hitter Brett Wallace flew out to Melky Cabrera in left to end the game. Casilla earned his 17th save in 18 chances filling in for Brian Wilson.At the plate: Novato native Bud Norris overmatched the Giants in the first inning with a fastball that touched 95 miles per hour at times. Buster Posey got San Francisco into the hit column with an opposite field single in the second inning, but the Giants didnt get into the run column until the third, thanks to an unlikely hero.Entering Tuesdays game, the Giants had gone 16 straight contests at AT&T Park without hitting a home run. Madison Bumgarner stepped to the plate to leadoff the third and sent a 2-1 Bud Norris fastball deep to left field for the Giants first home dinger, ending a homerless streak of 517 at-bats and 138 innings.Bumgarners bomb tied the game 1-1 and the Giants came back in the fourth to take the lead, thanks to a wild Norris. Posey worked a walk to lead off the inning, and after a Pablo Sandoval pop out, Norris issued back-to-back walks to Nate Schierholtz and Brandon Belt to load the bases. With Bumgarners big bat lurking in the on-deck circle, Brandon Crawford redeemed himself for an earlier error with a seeing eye single past Norris and a diving Jose Altuve at second base. Crawford came into the game 9-for-52 with runners in scoring position, but his clutch hit drove in two for a 3-1 lead.Norris had to leave the game midway though the third inning with a left knee sprain sustained when chasing down a foul pop up by Bumgarner, and the Giants didnt fare well against his replacement. David Carpenter worked 2.2 scoreless innings, despite giving up two hits and issuing a walk.The Giants added an insurance run in the seventh, when leadoff man Gregor Blanco worked a walk, stole second, and advanced to third when catcher Jason Castros throw trickled into centerfield. Blanco scored the Giants fourth run on Melky Cabreras second single of the night in his first game after missing three with a balky hamstring.Even with Bumgarner ending the Giants home homerless streak, Brandon Belt entered Tuesdays game stuck in his own season-long dinger drought. It came to a merciful end in the eighth inning, as the first baseman took Wesley Wright deep with a towering shot to right that hit the arcade and bounced into McCovey Cove.Nate Schierholtz and Crawford joined Cabrera with two hits each. The Giants totaled nine hits, drew five walks and went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.In the field: Brandon Crawford committed his Major League-leading 11th error by a shortstop when he threw wide of Brandon Belt in the third inning, leading to an Astros unearned run. It was the Giants 57th error of the season, tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the most in the Majors.In the third inning, Madison Bumgarner threw to first as Brian Bixler took off for second, but Brandon Belts throw to Crawford at second was high and wide, allowing Bixler to slide under the tag.Pablo Sandoval has taken some heat for his defensive efforts since returning from the disabled list, but he made an impressive catch of a screaming line drive off the bat of Bixler. Diving to his right, Sandoval caught the ball just off the ground, robbing Bixler of a likely double.Sandoval came close to another amazing play when Matt Downs laid down a bunt in the seventh, but a charging Sandoval bobbled his attempt to catch the ball with his bare hand and Downs was credited with a single.Belt had the opportunity to turn a game-ending double play, but bobbled Downs grounder and settled for the out at first. Two batters later, Brett Wallace fouled a ball in play, but Joaquin Arias backed off and Brandon Crawford slipped, extending the game.On the bases: Nate Schierholtz took off for second base after leading off the bottom of the sixth inning with a single, but was hung out to dry when Astros first baseman and former Giant Matt Downs snagged Brandon Belts liner for an easy double play.Gregor Blanco led off the seventh inning with a walk, and was on third base in no time when he stole his seventh base of the season and advanced to third on a bad throw from Jason Castro that made it into centerfield.Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,200 on Irish Heritage Night for their 117th consecutive sellout.Up next: Matt Cain will take the mound Wednesday in search of his eighth win of the year. At 7-2 with a 2.41 ERA, Cain is off to a stellar start to the season, but is 1-3 with a 4.69 ERA in his career against the Astros. Houston will start J.A. Happ (4-6, 4.54 ERA) opposite Cain. Happ is coming off a rough outing against the St. Louis Cardinals in Houston and is 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA in 12 career innings pitched against the Giants.

Down on the Farm: Q&A with San Jose Giants 1B/3B Jonah Arenado

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San Jose Giants/Tim Cattera

Down on the Farm: Q&A with San Jose Giants 1B/3B Jonah Arenado

The Giants know Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado all too well. In 76 games, Arenado has a .308 batting average against the Giants with 20 home runs, his most off any team in all of the majors. 

Playing in Advanced Single-A, the Giants have their own Arenado. Brother Jonah Arenado plays first and third base for the San Jose Giants and hit 19 home runs in 2016. 

Before the younger brother went 2-for-4 against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on Thursday night, NBC Sports Bay Area spoke over the phone with Arenado. Below is the full transcript where we talk his hitting approach, frustrations with the Lakers, trash talk with Nolan in ping pong and much more. 

Dalton Johnson: “You guys are now three weeks in, but I want to actually go back to Opening Day real quick. I know you guys ultimately lost, but it was a 16-inning game. Was that the longest game you’ve ever played in?” 

Jonah Arenado: “No, the longest game I ever played in was 17 innings.” 

DJ: “Really?! Wow! When was that?” 

JA: “I played 17 innings in Lakewood. I was playing for Augusta at the time. We were playing in New Jersey. So we went 17 innings, but we didn’t even get to finish the game. The fog got so extreme that we had to just cancel the game.” 

DJ: “The fog? That’s just crazy. So you were out in Augusta for the GreenJackets?” 

JA: “Yeah.”

DJ: “I was actually out in Savannah for college ball. I’m not sure if you guys ever played against the Sand Gnats.”

JA: “Yeah we were there the last year they had that stadium.” 

DJ: “Grayson Stadium. That was a really fun park. But a 16 or 17-inning game, I’m going to guess that the dugout has to get a little weird at some point, right?” 

JA: “Yeah you're just getting like... it gets kind of monotonous you know. It’s kind of like okay, when are we gonna score or when are they gonna score. And obviously you don’t want to lose the game, but you just want something to happen.” 

DJ: “What are you guys bringing out the rally caps or doing anything different?” 

JA: “No, no rally caps, but there’s times where a couple innings go by and someone will come into the dugout and try get jacked up or excite everyone. When it doesn’t work, it’s like alright here we go again.” 

DJ: “Off the field, I think you’re a Southern California guy and this is your second year out in Northern California in San Jose. Obviously you guys are always busy, but do you ever get to go out and check the Bay Area scenery at all?”

JA: “I’ve been to Santa Cruz and the beach over there. I’ve been to San Francisco. I went to San Francisco on an off day last year to watch the Giants-Rockies game. But besides that, no I rarely ever get to go out to San Francisco or anything like that.” 

DJ: “Off day, or you a golf guy or more of a relax guy? What are you trying to do on an off day?” 

JA: “I’m just trying to relax. Maybe hang out by the pool, just relax and hang out. Go to the beach. And if you do get to relax, I’m not trying to do anything that’s like a workout.” 

DJ: “Are there any places in San Jose where if someone’s coming from out town, you say, ‘Hey, this is where you need to go.’ San Jose, where would you go for one day?”

JA: “Oh, San Jose...” 

DJ: “Just go to a game? Tell them to go to a San Jose Giants game?” 

JA: “Yeah, yeah go to a San Jose Giants game and if not, Santa Cruz is 30 minutes down the road. I’d go to Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is nice.” 

DJ: “And then on the field, you’re someone who hits for power. You hit 19 bombs last year. With the way different people are starting to look at the swing now, are you someone that’s actually trying to swing for the fences a little bit? Are you trying to hit a home run? What’s your approach?”

JA: “No, I feel like the more I try to hit a home run, the more I don’t. When I go in thinking line drive to the middle or stay through the middle, I feel a lot better. I know last year I didn’t start off well, and I’m not starting off well this year either, but I know if I think like I have to drive this ball or I have to hit a home run then that never happens. Try to stay simple, try to stay short is usually when things start working out.” 

DJ: “Well there’s all these different advanced analytics and you can track everything now. Are you someone that actually looks into something like launch angle or exit velocity? Or is it more see ball, hit ball?” 

JA: “I don’t like thinking about those 40-degree angles. Hitting is hard enough. To think about all that stuff is too much. But I know that a lot of people, that’s the new thing. Launch angle and try to lift the ball, and that’s all great. It’s whatever works for that person. I know Donaldson preaches it and he loves talking about it, but that’s him. That’s what works for him. I know for me, trying to lift the ball doesn’t work. When I try to lift the ball, I usually pop up. So when I’m trying to hit a hard line drive, that’s when I usually can drive that ball.” 

DJ: “Yeah it seems like when you’re practicing, you’re on the tee or getting front toss or whatever, that’s when you can kind of work on those things. But I couldn’t really imagine taking that over to the game. Once it’s game time, it’s get a pitch, be aggressive, hit it hard. Are you just trying to make things, like you said, as simple as possible once it’s go time?” 

JA: “Yeah, when I’m in the game I’m just trying to be as ready as I can for that fastball. Just see it and hit it. There’s nothing more to it, honestly. Obviously, when you’re struggling you start trying to fix things. When I’m going well, it’s never thinking about what this guy is gonna throw or make sure your foot is doing this. No, I never think about that. I think about see the ball and hit it as hard as I can.” 

DJ: “In the minor leagues, are these tracking systems as prominent or is that more available the higher you go?” 

JA: “I think it’s more available for the big leaguers. It’s hard to watch our swings on video because sometimes our games aren’t taped. We watch our home games because they are streamed, but besides that it’s hard to get all that stuff done.” 

DJ: “Can that almost be an advantage at the same time though? When you’re younger I think if you look too far into then you might press or try to do too much. If you’re just figuring things out on your own, that might even be a little better. Am I right or wrong there?” 

JA: “I think you’re both wrong and right. There’s times when you think too much and sometimes you think it’s your swing and it’s really not your swing, it’s your approach. I think that’s when it can hurt you. When you’re looking at it on video, but that was never really the problem, so then you’re changing a swing that was actually working, but your approach was what’s messed up so now you’re changing your swing and your approach. So that can hurt you. But it can also help you because if there is something mechanically wrong, you can fix it. If you can’t watch it, then how are you gonna know? When you’re in the box, you feel completely different. You never feel like that’s your swing. When you’re in the box, everything is different. When you see it on film, you see I’m dropping my hands, but in the box I’m telling myself to stay on top of the ball so you don’t think you’re dropping your hands, but you’re still dropping your hands, you know what I mean?” 

DJ: “It’s almost like a best of two evils.” 

JA: “Yeah, yeah.” 

DJ: “Back on the field, clearly you’re obviously from a very athletic family. For you, was it just baseball all the time?” 

JA: “My older brother played soccer, my oldest brother played basketball too and Nolan just played baseball. He played soccer for a little, but then went with just baseball. For me, I played basketball also. Basketball is my favorite sport.” 

DJ: “Oh, really?” 

JA: “Yeah, it was. Basketball is just so much fun. You go out and shoot down the street by your house and technically that’s practicing, you know what I mean?” 

DJ: “Oh yeah. Baseball obviously you can go hit off the tee, but basketball, I mean I shot for 20 minutes at the gym today and you feel great.” 

JA: “Yeah, you can work on so many different things. If you’re hitting like crap that day, then it’s really hard to fix it that day. Basketball, if you’re shooting and keep shooting, eventually it’s going to go in.” 

DJ: “So, who’s your team?” 

JA: “Oh, the Lakers. Unfortunately, yeah.” 

DJ: “Are you feeling good about the rebuild or how are you feeling about all that?” 

JA: “I don’t, man. Magic Johnson’s in there, so I hope he’s the answer. But they need to get a superstar. The Lakers are my team, they have always been my team, but the players on the team are bothering me lately.” 

DJ: “I’m sure you and your brother Nolan and all of your brothers competed against each other all the time growing up. Whether it be shooting hoops or playing video games or anything else, what was the one thing, especially with Nolan, where you knew you could beat him no matter what?” 

JA: “Oh man, that’s tough. It’s really hard to beat him. Him losing to me is like death, but he’ll do anything he can to not lose to me because he knows if I win I’ll talk. I’ll just keep talking about it. It’s hard to say. There’s days in ping pong, I’m not gonna say I’m a better ping pong player, but we’re both pretty competitive. If I beat him in ping pong, I mean, it’s over. He’s distraught and then he’ll just want to rematch me until he can beat me.” 

DJ: “If you beat him, you said you’re a talker. What’s your go-to angle when it comes to trash talk?” 

JA: “I just never let him forget it. If I beat him in ping pong that series or that day, you better believe all day I’m gonna wear it out.” 

DJ: “Were you guys video game guys at all or more outside?” 

JA: “We played video games here and there. Mostly it was outdoors. Wiffle ball was always big with me and my family. We still play to this day. We still play wiffle ball all the time.” 

DJ: “Wiffle ball, you’re in the backyard 1-on-1. Who wins between you and Nolan and if you have one pitch, what are you throwing him?” 

JA: “Throwing him? I’m throwing fastball at his face.”

DJ: “Fastball at his face?!?” 

JA: “I’m just kidding, just kidding.” 

DJ: “That might be the only way the Giants can slow him down.” 

JA: “I’ll throw some chin music and then try to throw a little changeup away.” 

DJ: “I got you there, I got you. One last question. Video game wise, if EA Sports could bring back college baseball or college football, what are you picking?” 

JA: “Baseball.” 

DJ: “That was the go-to right there.” 

JA: “I forgot, but there was a college baseball game. I forgot which one it was that we played all the time, but it was one of the best games we ever played.” 

DJ: “I remember they had Texas on the cover or something like that—”

JA: “Exactly! That’s exactly the one.” 

DJ: “They have to bring it back.” 

JA: “That game is the best.” 

Krukow: Belt needs to make mechanical improvements, 'it's a concern'

Krukow: Belt needs to make mechanical improvements, 'it's a concern'

Brandon Belt is hitting .238 with four home runs and nine RBI.

He has struck out 23 times in 80 at-bats.

"I just don't think he's hitting the fastball," Mike Krukow explained on KNBR 680 on Friday morning. "I think they're coming at him with a lot of fastballs at the belt, and until he turns some of those fastballs around, he's gonna get a continued steady diet of the same pitch.

"Go back and take a look at his home runs -- they're curveballs down and in ... this is something that's been a weakness of his for awhile. And teams are on it. They're telling him what's coming, and he's unable to hit it."

Belt has drawn 16 walks this season and his on-base percentage is .365.

"That's outstanding ... but he has to start beating that fastball," Krukow added. "And his best defense in most instances is just to take the fastball. But he can't do that. You see a belt-high fastball, a little bit above, you're thinking 'I gotta hit this.' And he's not hitting it.

"And until he starts making some adjustments, and you say, 'Well, how do you do that?' Well, you gotta flatten out your swing someway, to be able to take that loop that you have when you're swinging at that high fastball, out. And I think that's the way that you try and beat it."

"They're continuing to pound him with fastballs, and he's not doing anything with them. So it's a concern and he's got some work to do to try and solve that. He's gonna have to make some mechanical improvements."