Pagan hears, responds to Bochy's 'wakeup call'

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Pagan hears, responds to Bochy's 'wakeup call'

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DENVER Giants manager Bruce Bochy didnt stare directly atAngel Pagan throughout Fridays pregame meeting. His message was meant for thegroup, even if some players needed to hear it more than others.

But clearly, Pagan was the most frustrated hitter in theGiants lineup. His mind had becoming a tangle of frustration and fixation. Afree agent after the season, and with the outfield suddenly pinched with thearrival of Hunter Pence, you couldnt blame Pagan for feeling a sense ofurgency panic, even to start putting up numbers.

Sitting him wouldve been the easiest course of action. ButGregor Blanco hasnt been a dynamo in the leadoff spot of late, either. And theGiants know what kind of everyday impact Pagan can make when hes healthy andin a good frame of mind. They saw it just a couple months ago, when he hitsafely in a remarkable 46 of 48 games. They saw the way he efficiently stolebases and put himself into scoring position. They knew he could be every bitthe spark that Andres Torres was in 2010.

So Bochy held that meeting, and challenged his hitters to manup and compete better.

REWIND: Bochy challenges Giants

Then he put Pagan in the leadoff spot for the first timesince May 22.

Pagan responded in the Giants 16-4 victory over theColorado Rockies. He finished a home run away from the cycle while also drawinga walk the first time hes reached base four times in a game via hit or walk sinceMay 18 -- 62 games ago.
RECAP: Giants 16, Rockies 4
Pagans problems mostly have been from the left side, and hewas batting right-handed when he doubled and walked against Jonathan Sanchez.But Pagan later cranked an RBI triple from the left side against right-handerMike Ekstrom, and he also reached on an infield single.

He scored aggressively on a wild pitch, too.

He put himself in position to utilize his speed something hehadnt done while the strikeouts were piling up.

That was huge for us, and for him, Bochy said. He reallyput together a nice game. Sometimes you end up fighting yourself instead ofdoing what youre supposed to do, and thats competing.

Pagan said he appreciated Bochys message, calling it awakeup call.

But he also credited hitting coach Hensley Bam Bam Meulensand hitting coordinator Joe Lefebvre for helping him key on some mechanicalthings he was doing in previous seasons.

A good game like that is a good start for me, Pagan said. Imade an adjustment in the cage and I took it out there. But tomorrow is anotherday. I need to keep doing it, and thats the most important thing.

That meeting was very encouraging. We needed somebody topick us up because the energy level was down. We have to be honest about that.We needed to go out and have fun.

The Giants need more games like this from Pagan.

"We need him," Buster Posey said. "Hes going to be huge for us. With his speed,he can do a lot of things, so it was nice to see him swinging the bat welltonight."

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

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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.