Runs continue to come at premium in San Francisco


Runs continue to come at premium in San Francisco


SAN FRANCISCO -- Given the events of the day, Matt Cain would have had a field day with the Giants Friday night.

As the Giants Saturday starter was being plaqued for his perfect game, the teams everyday lineup was showing that while perfect games are exceedingly rare, a shutout to even the most modest team is not out of the ordinary at all.

The Giants were granted a three-hit shutout defeat, 3-0, by Colorado rookie lefthander Tyler Chatwood and three relievers, and while the Rockies do some truly odd things with their pitching staff these days, this was not one of those nights when they were taxed nearly enough.

RECAP: Rockies 3, Giants 0

We got three hits against a guy who was effectively wild, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said between long, tortured face-rubs. They got a couple of timely hits, and we didnt get any.

Well, they got three in total, so timeliness was less noticeable than quantity.

One-out singles by Brandon Crawford in the third and fifth innings went begging, the fifth-inning one dying because Tim Lincecum couldnt get a bunt down, and the rest of the night was watching Giants hitters essentially run down the first base line and double back. The top six Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro, Melky Cabrera, Hunter Pence, Hector Sanchez and Brandon Belt went 1-for-21, and Pence is now 6-for-43 as a Giant, a profoundly untidy .140.

The inability to do anything to a Colorado team had surrendered 35 runs to the Giants a week ago mooted an odd outing by Lincecum, who lasted seven innings but spent much of his night fighting from behind. He was going to a slightly bigger wind-up Friday, but the main result was that he started 15 of the first 18 Colorado hitters off with a ball, and that inability to pitch ahead in the count could have crushed him.

As it was, he was nicked only for two-out RBI singles by Dexter Fowler in the third and Tyler Colvin in the fourth, and then a Colvin single and stolen base and a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Chris Nelson in the seventh. It was by the definition a quality start, and it surely could have been worse, but it was not one of Lincecums finest since the All-Star break.

But as Bochy said, That wasnt it. It was three hits, and three hits wins very few games. Without Buster Posey, who got the night off but flied out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, the Giants were hitting their four, five and six hitters higher than they would normally, and they provided next to nothing for their efforts.

And Pence, who has one walk and 11 strikeouts to go with those six hits, is having a stunningly minimal impact since the trade that brought him from Philadelphia.

This may all change when Posey returns Saturday to catch, and Monday, when Pablo Sandoval, who went 0-for-2 in San Jose on a rehab assignment Friday night, is expected to return. Then again, the Giants have the second fewest runs in baseball at home this year (180 in 56 games, a ridiculous 3.21 per game), and the second most on the road (291 in 57 games, an impressive 5.11), so it may not just be personnel.

But the ballpark isnt going to change, so the players have to. Friday, though, was more of the painful same in a season that looks like a seismograph that gets kicked every few days whether it needs it or not.

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco … 


Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

MESA, Ariz. -- Aaron Hill didn't play in the final Cactus League game, but he didn't need to. By simply being on the flight to San Francisco on Tuesday, Hill got good news. 

The veteran infielder was due a $100,000 bonus on Tuesday, and while the Giants haven't formally announced their roster, you don't pay a man that much money to come play three exhibition games against the A's. Hill appears to have made this club as a second backup infielder, along with Conor Gillaspie. Another veteran, Jimmy Rollins, got the news that the Giants are headed in a different direction. 

Team officials spoke with Rollins this week about their future plans. He was not on the travel roster Tuesday and did not attend the game against the Cubs. 

"We're waiting to hear back from him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He knows the scenario and the situation. We're waiting to hear back."

Rollins, 38, showed the Giants that he can still handle shortstop defensively, and he was a quick learner when he moved to second. But he hit just .119, falling behind Hill, Kelby Tomlinson and others in the mix for bench spots. It would seem unlikely that Rollins would want to get additional at-bats in Triple-A, but that feeling hadn't been fully conveyed to team officials Tuesday. There was a hope that Rollins, an East Bay native, might join the team for the Bay Bridge Series, which finishes Saturday in Oakland. Rollins grew up an A's fan.

Rollins and Hill were part of a crowded infield group at the start of camp. Gordon Beckham also had a retention bonus and he asked to be released when he was told he wouldn't make the opening day roster. David Hernandez, the third player due a bonus, also was released. He promptly signed with the Atlanta Braves.