It's all about the rebound after Giants drop Game 1 to Reds

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It's all about the rebound after Giants drop Game 1 to Reds

SAN FRANCISCO Here is the neatest, sparest, most sanitized-for-your-protectionway to describe the fate of the Giants cosmos Saturday night:

If Ian Kinsler had hit a fly ball off the top of the centerfield wall, it wouldve bounced over for a home run.

Kinsler does not play for the Cincinnati Reds, of course.The Giants were not playing a two-year-old World Series game, either.

They were beginning their hopeful march back to the FallClassic Saturday night. And now, for the first time since 1997, itll be anuphill slog. Their streak of eight consecutive Game 1 victories ended in a 5-2,thumb-in-your-eye loss to the Reds at China Basin.

We had tough luck, said Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

They had tough luck. Yes, that is right. They did not have access to the samefree-flowing energy particles that carried them along in 2010.

You can point to Matt Cains bases-loaded lineout to rightfield in the second inning. Or Brandon Belts blistered line drive that turnedfrom a double into a double play. Or Hunter Pences two well struck drives tothe warning track, which didnt have a prayer of cutting through the colder,heavier night air. Reds shortstop Zack Cozarts hand might still be numb fromcatching Pablo Sandovals lineout in the eighth, too.

Cain scorched that ball, and that can change the gamethere, Bochy said. I thought we had better at-bats than what it looked like.

Those wont show up in the box score. So what did? What willsomeone notice years from now, when they click on the play-by-play?

Easy: The Reds lost their starter after eight pitches. Andthey won.

Johnny Cuetos back spasms sent him to the dugout withoutlobbing a trial pitch in the first inning. But what looked to be a series-changing break turnedinto a boon for the Reds. After warmup comic Sam LeCure prepped the audienceover an inning and two-thirds, presumed Game 3 starter Mat Latos emerged withhis platinum blond hair and did what he usually does to the Giants at AT&TPark. (Other than breaking a radio announcers sunroof, that is.)

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Latos held the Giants to just Buster Poseys home run infour innings, lasting long enough to hand the ball to the Reds NL-best bullpen but not too long to be sidelined forever in this series. Latos threw just 57pitches (39 strikes).

The Giants' reaction to the switch could best be described as, "Uhhmmmm....wait a sec..."

Pence was like most of the Giants hitters. He had prepared by watching videoof Cueto and the Reds relievers. He didnt look at any footage of Latos. Beltsaid he prepped the same way.

Its a little bit of a curveball, Pence said.

Posey being Posey, said: Weve faced both those guys. We expected toface both those guys. Its not like Latos was not going to pitch in thisseries.

True. Except now, Latos might pitch in this series twice.

And Cueto might not be badly injured, either. Cincinnati GMWalt Jocketty said he didnt intend to replace the right-hander and 19-gamewinner on the NLDS roster. So Cueto could face the Giants in Game 3, with Latoseither ready on short rest for Game 4 or fully rested if the series goes thedistance.

How was this a huge break for the Giants, again?

Even their apparent strokes of luck turned into fictional Kinsler home runs.

Instead of the red thong, it was Reds gone as in the pairof home runs that Matt Cain allowed in five innings.

Cain tipped his cap to Jay Bruce, who kept up appearances of careerownage by hitting a double and a solo home run, both on changeups. But when it came to Brandon Phillips' two-run shot in the third, on a 1-2 do-nothing floater, Cain could only shake his head.

The pitch to Bruce wasnt too terrible but the hangingbreaking ball to Phillips is something you definitely cant let happen in a bigsituation like this, Cain said. In big games, they hurt even more.

Especially when the hitter is waiting to swoop on thatmistake like a circling buzzard.

I sat on the curveball the whole at-bat and he left it upand I was like, okay, there we go, said Phillips, who also took Cain deep fora two-strike, two-run homer (on a changeup) in April at Great American BallPark.

I was like, okay, weve got momentum now and the team wasgoing crazy. And I was going crazy too. I was like, I hit a home run, thisfeels good. Everybody in the dugout was going crazy and everybody was like,Okay, we got this win, thats all it really takes.

And, like, okay, those were the first earned runs that Cainhad given up in 23 23 career postseason innings. And they sent him to hisfirst playoff defeat.

How do the Giants come back from here, knowing that they neverlost a Game 1 in their three postseason series in 2010? And knowing they haventwon a postseason series after losing the opener since 1921, when the WorldSeries was a best-of-9?

Well be fine, Cain said. These guys showed what theyremade of. Well find out what tomorrow brings. Todays done with.

You wonder if High Pockets Kelly told his mates the same thing over non-alcoholic cereal beverages in 1921. Or maybe Irish Meusel or Frankie Frisch delivered the sermon following a 3-0 loss to Carl Mays and the Yankees at the Polo Grounds.

Almost a century later, the Giants know this:

No more bad bounces. Its the rebound that counts now.

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The promotion of an intriguing prospect can bring a certain buzz to the ballpark. It didn’t last long. 

The debut of Ryder Jones came in the latest flat performance from the Giants, who collapsed late and fell 5-2 to the Mets. The loss was their 50th of the season. They did not lose their 50th game last season until August 12. 

With the score tied in the eighth, Curtis Granderson crushed a leadoff triple into the alley. Sam Dyson walked the next batter and then whiffed Yoenis Cespedes, but Jay Bruce greeted Steven Okert with an RBI single to right. It kept going poorly from there. 

Here are five things to know from a cool day by the water … 

—- Jones grounded out to second in his first at-bat and then flied out to center, grounded out to first, and grounded out to second. He had one chance in the field, starting a double play that ended the second inning.  

—- Johnny Cueto seems to have turned a corner. Over his past two starts, he has allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings. Whether they trade him or not, the Giants certainly could use a nice little hot streak for the next six weeks. 

—- A few seconds after Bruce Bochy shook Cueto’s hand, Brandon Belt got him off the hook for a loss. He hit the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh into the seats in left-center, tying the game. The homer was Belt’s 14th. He’s on pace for 29. 

—- The Mets got eight one-run innings out of Jacob deGrom, who is quietly the most reliable of a star-studded rotation. He struck out seven and gave up just four hits. 

—- If Madison Bumgarner wants another Silver Slugger Award, he’ll have to chase down deGrom, who hit a homer in his last start. His single in the third was his 10th hit, and he finished the day with a .294 average.