Giants

Marrero, Crawford help Cueto become first pitcher to three wins

Marrero, Crawford help Cueto become first pitcher to three wins

SAN FRANCISCO — Chris Marrero has been dressed early all week, smacking balls in the cage with hitting coaches, taking fly balls in left with instructor Cody Ross, and doing swing drills by himself on a patch of grass alongside the dugout. 

Marrero entered play Friday in a 1-for-18 slump to start the season, his first as a semi-regular in the big leagues. A 28-year-old veteran with more than 4,000 minor league plate appearances on his resume, Marrero admitted he was pressing. But he did not press to make changes. 

“Did I want to start the season this way? No,” he said. “But I tried not to change anything. How are you going to change if what you worked on in spring training worked?”

That eight-homer spring earned a first opening day nod for Marrero. His first regular season homer doubled as the first of his big league career, and it gave Johnny Cueto a 2-0 lead that would only grow as the Giants pounded the Rockies 8-2. 

Cueto improved to 3-0 on the season and showed some of his trademark fire as he halted a mid-game rally that could have wiped away Marrero’s work. It was a night full of emotion for the Giants. Marrero was still trying to settle himself as he jogged out to left minutes after his blast to the bleachers. Brandon Crawford, who lost his sister-in-law this week, added a homer of his own, one he dedicated to Jennifer Pippin.

There was little doubt Marrero would be in the lineup Friday against lefty Tyler Anderson. Manager Bruce Bochy has stuck by him during the early struggles. But Bochy wasn’t sure he would have his shortstop. The two spoke after Thursday’s game. Bochy told Crawford he could take a couple of days off.

“He said, ‘I want to play,’” Bochy said. 

Crawford’s homer in the fourth rocketed out of the ballpark. As he always does, he pointed to the sky as he touched the plate. Crawford's wife, Jalynne, took to Twitter and wrote, "I know she's screaming in heaven right now! She would be so proud of that!!"

AT&T Park shook and later it lit up.

Fans took out their cell phones as Brandon Belt worked a 13-pitch at-bat in the seventh, culminating in a single. Belt saw 35 pitches in five at-bats, and his lone hit of the night kicked off a string of five straight singles that broke the game open.

The sudden blowout allowed the Giants to relax a bit after a couple of stressful weeks. Derek Law and Cory Gearrin took it home, clinching a second straight 3-0 start for Cueto. He’s the first Giant to do that in back-to-back years since Rick Reuschel in 1988-89. 

When the final pitch was thrown, Marrero went off in search of a baseball. The fan who caught his blast wanted just one thing: Dodgers tickets. Marrero took care of that on a night that he won’t forget.

“You think about these moments when you first start playing baseball,” he said. “I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs in my career. It was a battle early in the season but I didn’t lose confidence.

“This game is a grind, man. It’s tough mentally and physically. It’s tough to get out of a hole. You’ve got to believe in yourself and keep fighting.”

Giants lineup: Hernandez takes over at top of the order

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USATSI

Giants lineup: Hernandez takes over at top of the order

Despite the Brewers starting a right-handed pitcher, Bruce Bochy is going with Gorkys Hernandez to set the table for the Giants Wednesday.

Milwaukee Brewers (66-61)

1. Jonathan Villar (S) 2B
2. Domingo Santana (R) RF
3. Ryan Braun (R) LF
4. Travis Shaw (L) 3B
5. Jesus Aguilar (R) 1B
6. Manny Pina (R) C
7. Keon Broxton (R) CF
8. Orlando Arcia (R) SS
9. Matt Garza (R) P

San Francisco Giants (51-77)

1. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
2. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 2B
3. Jarrett Parker (L) LF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
7. Carlos Moncrief (L) RF
8. Ryder Jones (L) 1B
9. Matt Moore (L) P

Bobby Evans opens up on Giants’ concussion issues this season

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AP

Bobby Evans opens up on Giants’ concussion issues this season

The injury bug has taken one unpredictable bite out of the Giants' 2017 season. Recently, they have been hit hard by concussions, both in the big leagues and with their top draft pick. 

San Francisco is currently without the right side of its infield in Brandon Belt and Joe Panik as they sit on the 7-day concussion DL. Heliot Ramos, who the Giants took No. 19 overall in the 2017 MLB Draft, is the latest to take a hit to the head

Ramos, 17, was hit by a pitch Sunday night in the Arizona Rookie League.

Giants GM Bobby Evans was asked in an interview with The Athletic Wednesday how the recent uptick in concussions have changed how the team handles the injury. 

I think the concern continues around the game and around all of sports. We are very much aware of the risks associated with not allowing a player to fully recover from one.

We want to make sure in every form that we get guys healthy and that they aren’t playing again until they are ready to go. That takes patience on our part, but I applaud the work of baseball to protect the player and obviously appreciate the diligence of what our medical staff does to continue to monitor even the smallest sign of a concussion.

Belt has now sustained four concussions in his career between college and pro ball. His return to the team this season is still up in the air. Panik, who was also concussed last season after getting hit in the head by now-teammate Matt Moore, played in his first rehab game Tuesday night with the Sacramento River Cats.

Along with Ramos, who was hitting .348 with six home runs at the time of his injury, top picks Jacob Gonzalez and Aaron Bond have impressed Evans with their play in the Rookie League. 

It’s tough to come into a league like that and hit for average and contribute the way that they have. They’ve put themselves in a very good position to start their careers. We are proud of them and are hopeful that we can continue to see more from them as they progress through the system.

Their regular season will end here shortly and then they will go into at some point an Instructional League and then move on to an offseason before they come in next spring. I think they’ve got to be very proud of what they have accomplished this season.