Instant Replay: Giants shut down by Ray, come up short vs D'backs

Instant Replay: Giants shut down by Ray, come up short vs D'backs


SAN FRANCISCO — Jeff Samardzija and Robbie Ray both had filthy stuff Tuesday night, one from the right side and one from the left. They each recorded 20 outs with similar lines, but there was one big difference. Ray caught the break he needed, Samardzija did not. 

In the end, Samardzija and the Giants were left with a 4-3 loss on a wet night at AT&T Park. Playing without Buster Posey for the first time, the lineup didn't get going until the ninth, when Nick Hundley and Eduardo Nuñez got the Giants within one. Brandon Crawford struck out with the tying run on second. 

The game turned on a couple of plays at the track involving Gorkys Hernandez. Starting in place of Denard Span against the lefty, Hernandez came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the second. His deep fly to left was caught a few feet in front of the wall. 

The Diamondbacks came right back and loaded the bases in the top of the third, starting with a single by Ray. Jake Lamb crushed a fastball to left-center and Hernandez seemed to have it in his sights. As he approached the wall, he stumbled a bit, and his reach came up a few inches short. The triple made it 3-0 Diamondbacks.

That was the only damage against Samardzija, who put plenty of traffic on the bases but limited the damage. Samardjiza allowed five hits and walked four in 6 2/3 innings, striking out seven. Ray gave up four hits, walked five and struck out eight. 

Starting pitching report: On the day Posey went on the concussion DL, Samardzija drilled Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona’s best player. It didn’t seem to be an accident. The pitch was a 96 mph fastball that struck him on the backside, the desired spot for retaliatory throws. Goldschmidt walked to first without incident. 

Bullpen report: Ty Blach was in full LOOGY mode. He came on in the seventh with a runner on and Lamb up, getting a liner to right that ended the inning.

At the plate: Hundley will get most of the starts over the next week. He had a single and two doubles in five at-bats. 

In the field: Nuñez made his first start of the year at shortstop. He didn’t get a chance until the seventh, and he handled it easily. He’ll be Crawford’s backup this year. 

Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,562 human beings. One of them wore an Aaron Roward jersey. Apparently on purpose. 

Up next: Matt Cain makes his second start of the year. Given the fact that the Giants can skip their No. 5 starter next week, it’s a big one for Cain.


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