Misplay in center is costly for Giants, who again fall short of a comeback

Misplay in center is costly for Giants, who again fall short of a comeback

SAN FRANCISCO — The rain arrived in the late innings Tuesday night, swirling around the field and soaking a home team that was trying to come back and a visiting squad that was desperately trying to keep a hot start to the season going. 

For the Giants — especially center fielder Gorkys Hernandez — the rain and the accompanying wind arrived a few innings too late. Hernandez couldn’t haul in a Jake Lamb blast that kept carrying to the wall in the third inning. The three-run triple was the deciding play for the Diamondbacks, who gave up three in the eighth and ninth as the ballpark got smaller but held on for a 4-3 win. 

“I thought he had a bead on it, I did,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s so good out there. He was upset with himself. That’s a big play obviously. He’s a gifted center fielder and he just didn’t quite come up with it. That’s not an easy play. He just didn’t come up with it and that was the difference, probably.”

For Hernandez, starting in place of Denard Span, it was a night where the inches never went his way. He scalded a ball the other way in the first but right at Paul Goldschmidt. In the bottom of the second, he came a few feet from a grand slam. That ball settled into a glove. Hernandez couldn’t say the same after Lamb’s shot. 

“I was pretty close, I almost got it,” he said. “It happens. I was trying to do the best I could for (Jeff) Samardzija and the team. It happens. I jumped and tried to catch the ball, and it didn’t get in my glove. Sometimes that happens.”

The Diamondbacks added a little salt to the fresh wound in the bottom of the inning. Aaron Hill lined what looked to be an RBI double to left-center, but center fielder A.J. Pollock made a spectacular grab. It was that kind of night for the Giants, who hit several balls hard but left 13 on base. 

They finally inched closer in the eighth, getting a run back. In the ninth, Nick Hundley and Eduardo Nuñez drove in runs, and Nuñez swiped second with Brandon Crawford pinch-hitting. The Giants couldn’t finish the rally against Fernando Rodney. 

“We’ve done that three times where we battled back to get within one run and just couldn’t finish it,” Bochy said. 

--- Samardzija was much better in his second start, allowing just the three runs on the Lamb triple. He struck out seven in 6 2/3, stretching it out to 112 pitches. 

“It’s good to get there and feel good,” he said of the pitch count. “I still felt I could attack them there in the seventh and I was still using all my pitches.”

Bochy has pushed his starters early. For all the holes that are opening up, the Giants still have a strong starting staff, and they certainly intend to ride those guys hard. 

--- Nuñez had four hits, raising his average to .389. He stole his fifth base, so he’s already one-third of the way to last year’s Giants leader. Bochy said he will continue to hit sixth for now. It’s a spot Nuñez likes. 

“I just like him there,” Bochy said. “It breaks up the lefties and puts him in a position where he’s driving in runs or stealing bases. I could put him in the leadoff spot, but I just like him in that area. It doesn’t mean I won’t change it (at some point).”

--- Look, it was clear that Samardzija got a bit of revenge on the day Buster Posey went on the DL. The Giants did not feel Taijuan Walker was throwing at Posey, and they don’t generally throw at hitters themselves, but there are unwritten rules and all that. So, Paul Goldschmidt -- the Buster Posey of Arizona -- got one right on the backside. If you follow the unwritten rules, an early plunking somewhere around the waist is exactly how you do it. 

Samardzija did not answer a question about it and Bochy cut one off, which is fine. No point in getting on the commissioner’s radar. But good for Goldschmidt for understanding the situation and not escalating it, and good for the umpires for not freaking out with a series of warnings. This beef now seems squashed.


Down on the Farm: Beede earns third win with River Cats on 24th birthday


Down on the Farm: Beede earns third win with River Cats on 24th birthday

Tyler Beede stepped on the hill at Raley Field in Sacramento on Tuesday night one year older and came away with one more win after the River Cats defeated the Memphis Redbirds, 6-2. 

Beede, now 24 years old, didn’t churn out his most impressive or dominant performance, but he limited hits and found a way to earn his third win of the year. On the night, he completed 5 1/3 innings pitched and only allowed four hits and two earned runs. He did, however, walk more batters (3) than strikeouts (2), which is his lowest strikeout total in a game this season. 

Those numbers shouldn’t be too surprising when looking at Beede’s trends this season on the mound. In his nine starts for the River Cats, he is walking slightly more batters than last year when he was in Double-A Richmond, and he’s significantly striking out less batters. Through 49 innings pitched, which leads the River Cats, Beede is issuing 3.31 walks per nine innings (3.24 BB/9 in 2016) while only striking out 5.88 batters per nine, compared to 8.25 K/9 last year. 

Instead, the Giants’ top pitching prospect is turning to ground balls, setting him up smarter for the future. After forcing seven groundouts to three flyouts on Tuesday, he is now rolling ground balls 56.5 percent of the time, an increase from 47.9 percent last season. 

Sacramento plays in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. All teams outside of the River Cats, who are last in the league with a team batting average of .238, are averaging just over five runs per game and almost one homer every game. Beede, isn’t letting the ball fly through air and has only allowed three homers off of him this season. This plays well for his and the Giants’ future. 

Whenever Beede finds his way to San Francisco, he doesn’t need to rely on his mid-90s fastball to get outs. The strikeouts will come, but life will be much easier watching a Gold Glove infield scoop up grounders for years to come. 

While Beede waits his turn to join the bigs, he’s showing maturity on the hill and stayed undefeated at home on a birthday night to remember. 

Around The Horn

— The Giants’ top power prospect, Chris Shaw, has been called up from Double-A Richmond to Triple-A Sacramento. Shaw, 23, played only first base in the minors before this season, but has transitioned to left field. He played 18 games at first and 18 games at left for the Flying Squirrels, registering no errors in the outfield. 

— Kelby Tomlinson is working in center field while with the River Cats. Insider Alex Pavlovic spoke to Bruce Bochy about the move

— Bryan Reynolds, the Giants’ top pick in 2016, finished a home run short of the cycle on Sunday. He went 5-for-6 with four RBI in the San Jose Giants’ win. On the season, Reynolds now has 14 multi-hit games in 38 games played. Here’s the breakdown: Six two-hit games, seven three-hit games and one five-hit game. 

Mariners designate former Giants pitcher for assignment

Mariners designate former Giants pitcher for assignment

CHICAGO -- Chris Heston was hopeful a move to a new organization could give his career a jolt. It hasn't worked out that way.

The former Giant was designated for assignment on Wednesday by the Mariners, who earlier acquired an outfielder from the Astros and needed the roster spot. Heston was traded to Seattle at the winter meetings for a player to be named later. The Giants have not yet picked that player off a list the teams agreed to.

Heston had a 3.95 ERA as a starter for the Giants in 2015 and threw a no-hitter at Citi Field, but he had trouble transitioning to relief the next season and dealt with an injury in Triple-A. Needing a roster spot in December, the Giants traded him.

Heston started Sunday for Seattle and gave up six earned runs in three innings. He allowed five earned in two innings in his previous appearance.