Giants general manager Brian Sabean made it clear that the team has noplans to trade first baseman Brandon Belt, despite his recent struggles andlimited playing time.Comcast SportsNets Jim Kozimor asked Sabean on Chronicle Live if Belt could bepart of a trade deadline deal. As of right now, no, Sabean said. Belts a part of ourpresent and future.Those words seem to suggest that Belt will be given the opportunity towork himself out of a current 3-for-30 slump over his last 12 games.Hes still a young player trying to learn at the major league level, Sabeansaid. I think hes in a mode now where hes again thinking too much andworrying about mechanics instead of just attacking the baseball.Belt has seen his playing time diminish with Buster Posey starting atfirst base when Hector Sanchez, before his injury, started at catcher.Quite frankly, with how we were mixing and matching with Posey playing firstand Sanchez catching a little bit more kind of took him out of the mix, Sabeansaid. He knows what he needs to do. Hes very capable. Hes got all the talentin the world; its just a matter of picking it up.In his second big-league season, the 24-year-old Texas native is batting .244 with a .356on-base percentage. He has four home runs and 31 RBIs in 205 at-bats and owns a6137 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
CHICAGO — As they packed up at AT&T Park eight days ago, the Giants talked of taking their momentum on the road. It sounded pie-in-the-sky given the way they had played in April and on the previous trip, but when they took the first two in St. Louis, players started to believe they had finally turned the corner.
And then came a Sunday loss, and three of four at Wrigley Field. There was no happy flight Thursday. The Giants lost 5-1, again looking flat against a less-than-elite pitcher, and ended up with a 3-4 trip. They’ll finish the first two months of the season without a winning road trip. They're 9-19 away from AT&T Park.
“It’s disappointing,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Once you win the first one here, you’re hoping you get greedy and take the series, but we didn’t. That’s disappointing.”
The Giants entered the road trip with a 6.62 starters’ ERA on the road, but pitching wasn’t the issue. Sure there were too many meatballs — most of the 10 Cubs homers in this series came on pitches left right over the fat part of the plate — but the starters did their job. The lineup couldn’t keep up. The Giants had just five hits Thursday and finished the trip with 24 runs in seven games. They started the trip nine games out in the West and finished 11 back of the Rockies, their largest deficit since 2013.
“You come here and take the first game with our (top) guys throwing after that and you’re hoping for a better result,” Jeff Samardzija said. “We started out good and that St. Louis series puts you in a good spot to salvage the trip. We’ll go home now with six solid games on our home turf and they’re six big games for us.”
The Braves and Nationals come to town. The Giants will see Jaime Garcia on Friday, followed by Mike Foltynewicz and R.A. Dickey.
--- Samardzija’s run without a walk ended at 154 batters when Ian Happ drew a free pass in the seventh. The streak was the best of Samardzija’s career.
--- Eduardo Nuñez said he got treatment on a tight hamstring throughout the game and he’ll go in early Friday to continue treatment. He hopes to start Friday.
--- Christian Arroyo was hitless in three at-bats, dropping his average to .191. Before the game, Bochy talked at length about Arroyo’s recent struggles and the plan with him going forward.
--- If you missed it earlier, I took a tour of the visiting bullpen here. After going in there, I talked to some more pitchers about what they don’t like. It seems to mostly be the fact that you’re separated from the game. One said some of the relievers who pitched Monday had no idea it was raining because they had been getting loose inside for several innings. Seems like there’s a pretty easy fix here: The Cubs can just turn part of that Under Armour wall into a chain-link fence, or have some sort of window that opens up to the outside but doesn’t interfere with outfielders. Maybe next year …
CHICAGO — The Cubs have a brand new clubhouse that visitors often compare to a spaceship, and this season their front office moved into a sparkling building alongside Wrigley Field that has a Starbucks on the ground floor and arcade games sprinkled among the offices.
There are still plenty of old-school quirks at this 103-year-old park, however, and two of them teamed up to get to Jeff Samardzija and the Giants in the first inning Thursday.
Kris Bryant lofted a ball to left and Mac Williamson settled under the basket hanging over the track. Williamson thought he had a bead on the ball, but a Cubs fan caught it as he reached over the basket, installed in this yard specifically to keep fans from unleashing their inner Jeffrey Maier. Williamson immediately pointed up, trying to signal to Giants coaches that they should take a second look at the homer. Bruce Bochy never had a chance.
“In this game you get a safety valve and one is replay,” Bochy said. “The phone wasn’t working and by the time Shawon (Dunston) ran down they were throwing the pitch to (Anthony) Rizzo.”
Bochy kept looking at the replay phone but it didn’t ring. Once the first pitch to Rizzo was thrown, the Giants were out of time to challenge.
“I definitely would have challenged it,” Bochy said. “I didn't see any reason to at first. That’s something we definitely would have done differently … It’s ironic that as soon as it happened it stopped ringing.”
Bochy met with home plate umpire Laz Diaz after the inning and informed him that if the replay phone continued to give the Giants issues, he might have to stop the game and get it fixed. The Giants continued to check the phones every inning to make sure they worked, although there were no challenges from their side.
It’s an interesting wrinkle to the loss, especially given the history of shenanigans here. But there are two postscripts.
The first is that the ball was a home run. Unless you’re built like Kevin Durant, it’s just about impossible to pull a ball over the basket, which Williamson noted as he stood underneath the overhang. Still shots were deceiving because the fan tugged his glove down after making the catch, but the Giants checked with the league during the game and they were told that the home run call would have stood.
"If it would have gone in, it would have been like the (Javier) Baez homer in the playoffs where it just nicked it," Williamson said.
The second postscript is that this goofy isolated play isn’t the reason the Giants lost. Jeff Samardzija gave up two more homers, Denard Span halted a rally with a mistake at first base, and the Giants managed just one run against the Cubs’ No. 5 starter and lefty reliever Mike Montgomery. They lost 5-1.
“You’d like to think we could score in this ballpark, three to four runs,” Bochy said. “We couldn’t do it. We shot ourselves in the foot there with runners on first and third.”
With the corners packed and one down in the fifth, Span was picked off first by Eddie Butler. The Giants would never again threaten.
“You never know what’s going to happen in an inning like that, but now he’s got two outs,” Bochy said.
The Giants looked poised to tie the game or take the lead in that inning. Instead, the Cubs added another run on Ben Zobrist’s homer in the sixth. Two more scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch in the eighth. Samardzija took the loss despite striking out eight in three innings. He gave up three solo shots, two that landed in the basket.
“Yeah, man, that’s a tough way to take it,” he said. “You give up one to Zobrist that he hit well and then two in the Easter basket. It’s unfortunate.”
The Cubs might have caught a break or two, but the Giants had no room to argue or complain. There’s something else about those baskets: They’re out there for both teams, and only one of the lineups was hitting it far enough to bring them into play.