Season-high four in a row


Season-high four in a row


SAN FRANCISCO When youve hit one home run in your last 18 home games, youd better be creative about scoring runs.

The Giants keep finding ways, and their pitching staff keeps making those runs hold up.

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro allowed the tying run to score in embarrassing fashion when he lost track of the outs in the fifth inning, Buster Posey scored the tiebreaking run in the seventh after drawing his fourth walk of the afternoon and Ryan Vogelsong maintained the rotations full-gallop pace as the Giants beat the Chicago Cubs 3-2 at AT&T Park on Monday afternoon.

The Giants completed their first four-game sweep over the Cubs in San Francisco since June 17-20, 1999, at Candlestick Park. They have 19 wins since May 5, tied for the most in the majors with the Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox.

Starting pitching report
Vogelsong (4-2) turned in the Giants seventh consecutive start of at least seven innings and no more than two earned runs. Its a streak that has been done just one other time in the Giants San Francisco era, when they had nine straight starts meeting those qualifications in 1988.

Vogelsong gave up both his runs in the second inning, when the Cubs collected five singles most of them bleeders -- in a six-batter span. The right-hander stranded the bases loaded when he fielded Castros checkswing tapper and made an accurate throw to first base.

He only allowed one more runner into scoring position after that, and Ryan Theriots highlight play helped him escape the seventh inning.

Vogelsongs 2.38 ERA leads the Giants rotation and he has nine quality starts in 11 outings.

Bullpen report
Jeremy Affeldt went six up, six down to record a very impressive two-inning save. He even got an at-bat out of the deal, which his teammates enjoyed very much.

At the plate
The Giants extended their streak to 13 home games without a home run, the second longest in the clubs San Francisco era. They went 15 games without a homer from Sept. 4 to Oct. 3, 1980.

Its also the longest streak by any club at home since the Dodgers played 14 consecutive games at Chavez Ravine without a homer in 1992.

They utilized patience over punch to score enough to support Vogelsong. Buster Posey walked while seeing 27 pitches in each of his first four plate appearances. He became the first Giant with a four-walk game since Juan Uribe on May 9, 2010. It also was just the second four-walk game since Barry Bonds in 2007.

(Since 2000, Bonds owns 16 of the clubs 19 four-walk games. Posey, Uribe and Dustan Mohr own the others.)

The Giants began their comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the second inning when Brandon Belt and Joaquin Arias singled and Brandon Crawford followed with a double down the right field line. But Ryan Theriot struck out with the bases loaded and Melky Cabrera had the misfortune of lining out to second baseman Darwin Barney.

Cabrera grounded out to strand a pair in the fourth, but the Giants benefited from a huge mental mistake to tie it in the fifth.

Posey led off by drawing a walk against Jeff Samardzija and Angel Pagan ripped a single extending his hitting streak to an all-time franchise record 28 home games. Pagan doffed his helmet as the sellout crowd treated him to a standing ovation.

Belt walked to load the bases but it appeared the Cubs would escape when Arias lined out and Crawford hit a roller to second base for an easy double play. But Castro simply strode across the bag as he received the throw from Barney, causing faces to strike palms all through Cubs nation. Posey looked back after crossing the plate, surprised that his run counted.

Posey drew another walk from former Cubs closer Carlos Marmol to start the winning rally in the seventh. The Giants once again loaded the bases with no outs after Pagan reached on an infield single and Belt walked. Arias grounded into a double play as Posey crossed the plate.

In field
Was Theriot lucky or good?

Maybe a little of both when he stopped Castros short-hop smash in the seventh inning. With the tiebreaking run at third base, Castros hot shot deflected off Theriots glove but went straight up in the air. It was a bad bounce for the Cubs, as Theriot snatched the ball with his bare hand and threw in time for the out.

The Giants announced 41,524 paid. Approximately 41,523 knew there was one out when Crawford hit his grounder in the fifth.

Up next
The Giants begin a three-game road trip at Petco Park against the last-place San Diego Padres on Tuesday. Tim Lincecum (2-6, 5.82) will try to get back in the victory column against right-hander Anthony Bass (2-5, 4.00).

Lincecum is 10-4 with a 1.84 ERA in his career against the Padres. After San Diego, his next start is expected to come June 16 at Seattle the Washington natives first ever appearance at Safeco Field.

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a very important fact you need to keep in mind when talk of Johnny Cueto’s opt-out comes up, as it so often will over the next six weeks: The Giants always expected him to opt-out after this season, from the moment the ink was dry on the six-year, $130-million contract. 

When you sign at the top of your game and have a chance to hit the market at 31 years old and cash out a second time, you take it. Those are just the rules of professional sports. On the day Cueto was introduced, his agent, Bryce Dixon, said the two-year opt-out was important because they felt Cueto didn’t get a totally fair shot at free agency. 

“Johnny, a little bit unfairly, had a lot of questions about his arm,” Dixon said in December of 2015. “I felt we could reestablish his actual value … He knows he’s as good as (David) Price and (Zack) Greinke, but his situation was a little different.”

The Giants were fine with this, too. The flip side of the opt-out is that if you have the chance to pay a dominant right-hander $46 million over two years, and then escape his mid- to late-thirties, you do it. Every time. You don’t even blink. 

So, here we are, in June of the second year of that deal, with reports that Cueto will opt out. You should take a deep breath because you should have already expected this. But if you didn’t, take comfort in this: By all indications, Cueto has not made a decision, even with the Giants having an unimaginably poor season. 

First of all, Cueto can't make a decision in June. What if the blisters return and he repeats his April ERA a couple more times? What if his elbow starts barking? There are no guarantees with pitchers, and until Cueto gets through the second season, there will be no finality with his decision. 

Aside from the fact that he really can’t make that decision, though, sources insist Cueto hasn’t made up his mind or even thought much about it. People familiar with his thinking continue to say the focus has been baseball all season long, from spring training through his last start. 

Cueto is said to be happy in San Francisco and he enjoys pitching in front of the crowd at AT&T Park. His biggest concern has been wins and losses, and in that respect, this has been a disappointing year for all involved. 

That record has brought the Giants to a crossroads, and this is where it gets interesting. The easy solution is to trade Cueto next month, avoid the opt-out situation entirely, and add prospects to a system lacking them. But, it’s complicated. The Giants do not intend a full teardown, and if they’re going for it again in 2018 — with their core of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Madison Bumgarner, etc. locked in, that’s the plan — they’ll want that second ace at the top of the rotation. And if Bumgarner doesn’t return to form after an injury, they’ll need Cueto’s presence. 

The Giants have until July 31 to decide what to do with Cueto. He has until three days after the World Series ends to decide what to do with his contract. Here in June, by all indications, those decisions haven’t been made. 

Giants lineup: Pence hitting third, Panik back into two-hole

Giants lineup: Pence hitting third, Panik back into two-hole

Clutch, late-game hitting by Hunter Pence has propelled him to the three hole as the Giants look to bounce back vs the Braves. Bruce Bochy has released the rest of his lineup for Game 2 of the series...

San Francisco Giants:
1. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 3B
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Austin Slater (R) LF
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Nick Hundley (R) C
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Matt Cain (R) P

Atlanta Braves:
1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
7. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
8. Johan Camargo (S) 3B
9. Jaime Garcia (L) P