Giants

McCarthy strong, Matsui goes yard in A's win

441716.jpg

McCarthy strong, Matsui goes yard in A's win

April 10, 2011BOXSCORE A'SVIDEOMLBPAGE MLBSCOREBOARD
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Hideki Matsui wasn't the only one getting a little anxious for his first home run in an Athletics uniform.The Oakland pitching staff was just as excited to see the veteran send one soaring into the Target Field stands.Matsui homered to help the Athletics break out of a season-long offensive slump and Brandon McCarthy pitched into the eighth inning in Oakland's 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday."I'm just happy to get one," Matsui said through an interpreter. "And we won the game, as well." GUTIERREZ: Matsui holds the key to A's offense
Matsui was signed in the offseason to provide another veteran bat to complement a young, talented pitching corps. But he entered the game Sunday hitting just .160 with no homers and three RBIs.He led off the fourth inning with a solo shot that bounced off a scoreboard in deep right-center field to get the A's on the board. Josh Willingham added another one in a four-run sixth inning."You know it's going to come," A's manager Bob Geren said of Matsui, who also had a single and two runs scored. "To see that performance, that ball jumped out of here in a hurry. He got the whole bench really excited."McCarthy (1-0) allowed two runs and nine hits with five strikeouts in 7 1-3 innings for his first win since 2009 after not pitching in the majors last year because of shoulder problems. Brian Fuentes earned his third save.Justin Morneau had three hits and an RBI for the Twins, and Jim Thome hit his first homer of the season. But their three-run eighth was too little, too late on another slow day for the offense.Scott Baker (0-2) gave up four runs and seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts in five innings.Landon Powell had two hits and an RBI, and the A's scored four runs in the sixth inning - they scored four total in their previous four games - to take a 5-0 lead. Oakland has given McCarthy five runs of support in both starts, but is averaging just 2.7 runs in its other seven games."I think they like me more than the other guys," McCarthy joked. "I think it's because I have a better personality."The way the Twins had been swinging the bats, that lead seemed insurmountable. But McCarthy gave up a single to Denard Span and a double to Joe Mauer to start the eighth. After Morneau drove in Span with a groundout, Thome launched his two-run homer off lefty Jeremy Blevins over the 36-foot high wall behind the center-field fence to make it 5-3.Fuentes, who hasn't allowed a run to the Twins in seven career appearances, slammed the door in the ninth to close it out.Oakland entered the game with just 24 runs in eight games, the third-fewest in the American League. Yet even they were ahead of the Twins, who had 21.Twins manager Ron Gardenhire pulled out all the stops to try to jump-start his struggling lineup, moving Michael Cuddyer from right field to second base and giving Mauer a rare day game behind the plate."We just got to get swinging better," Gardenhire said. "It's frustrating for the guys, but at least we kept battling."On paper it looked quite formidable with Mauer hitting second followed by Morneau, Thome, Delmon Young, Jason Kubel and Cuddyer against a right-handed pitcher, ideal for Minnesota's lefty-heavy lineup.But McCarthy chewed them up all game, pounding the strike zone and recording 11 groundouts.The series featured good pitching and anemic offenses, with the teams combining to score 12 runs in the three games. Runs were at such a premium that when Matsui's homer slammed off the scoreboard on the facing of the second deck in right-center, the hometown fans let out a groan as if the game had ended right there.Willingham led off the sixth with a towering home run to left field that traveled an estimated 427 feet. Kevin Kouzmanoff and Cliff Pennington added sacrifice flies, and Powell had an RBI double to make it 5-0."It was good that the offense came together," Matsui said. "The starting pitching has been pitching well, but they weren't quite getting the offensive support."NOTES: Thome's two RBIs gave him 1,629, moving him past Harold Baines for 29th on the career list. ... Mauer received his 2010 Gold Glove before the game. ... The Twins also honored the University of Minnesota-Duluth men's hockey team, which won the national championship Saturday night with an overtime victory against Michigan. ... Ryan Sweeney got his first start of the season for the A's in right field, going 1 for 3 with a double.

Five mistakes that will haunt Giants after 77th loss of 2017

Five mistakes that will haunt Giants after 77th loss of 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — If the Giants were in a different situation, Tuesday night’s loss was the kind that really would sting for a few days. As is, it was simply loss No. 77 in a stunningly bad season. 

The Giants went down 4-3 in somewhat familiar fashion, with their offense failing to break through and their bullpen coming up short. But this loss, No. 77, was also about small mistakes, both mental and physical. Let’s count down some of the ways the Giants went down:

--- Gorkys Hernandez, a late addition to the lineup because Hunter Pence has a tight hamstring, dropped a fly ball in deep right in the fourth inning. That cost Jeff Samardzija a run and a few more pitches. Bruce Bochy said Pence likely will be off Wednesday and then return Friday in Arizona. 

--- Bochy pulled Samardzija after just 89 pitches, and it was certainly peculiar in the moment. The thing is, the intention fit in with the reality of this season. Samardzija has carried a heavy load and Bochy was trying to protect his arm a bit. 

“The inning before, he logged some pitches,” Bochy said. “I’ve worked him pretty hard and I’m really looking after him as much as anything. We’re trying to give some guys a break and it didn’t work out. We had some guys lined up in the seventh, eighth, ninth — it just didn’t work out in the seventh.”

--- You can’t really argue with protecting a big-money pitcher in a down year. But Bochy probably wishes he had chosen someone other than Albert Suarez, who was fresher than others but has now given up runs in six of seven appearances. Suarez turned a one-run lead into a one-run deficit. It was more glaring when Kyle Crick entered and pitched 1 1/3 sharp innings. 

--- The Giants still had a chance — it helped that the Brewers took a dominant Josh Hader out of the game just because he’s a lefty and Nick Hundley bats right-handed — and they put two on in the eighth. Denard Span hit a soft single to right and Phil Nevin waved Hundley, who has catcher’s legs. He was out by a mile. Bochy said he was fine with forcing the issue there, although that’s a call Nevin probably wants back. 

Another twist on the play: Bochy could have put speedy Orlando Calixte in for Hundley and then moved Pablo Sandoval over to first in the next inning, with Calixte at third. He didn’t second-guess that decision.

“He was out pretty easily,” Bochy said. “I don’t know if a little more speed would have helped out.”

--- In the bottom of the ninth, Kelby Tomlinson singled. He was promptly caught stealing second with the heart of the order coming up. Again, a decision that went the visiting team’s way. 

Those moments could be defended or second-guessed. On another night, maybe they all work out and the Giants win 3-2, or 6-4. On this night, it was simply a familiar script, and loss No. 77.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 4-3 loss to Brewers

bochy-suarez-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 4-3 loss to Brewers

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Just when it seemed the Giants were starting to find some continuity in their bullpen, they have taken a couple of steps back. 

Two days after Hunter Strickland imploded late, Albert Suarez gave up the lead. The Giants lost 4-3 to the Brewers in a game that dragged. The Brewers did open the window a bit in the bottom of the eighth and Denard Span bounced a single to right with two outs and two on. Phil Nevin waved Nick Hundley all the way around third and Hundley was thrown out by 10 feet to end the inning. 

Anyway, here are five other things to know … 

—- Just one of Jeff Samardzija’s six innings went 1-2-3, and Bruce Bochy turned to the bullpen after just 89 pitches. Samardzija was charged with two runs, one of them earned. It was a little odd that he came out so early. 

—- Suarez entered in the seventh with a one-run lead and gave up two runs before being lifted. He has allowed a run in six of his last seven appearances. 

—- Brandon Crawford momentarily gave the Giants the lead with a two-run homer, his 11th. He is definitely starting to hit his stride. Crawford has four extra base hits and six RBI on the homestand. 

—- Why is it so hard for the Giants to sign power bats? Well, just ask Eric Thames. He hit a 433-foot blast to lead off the third but ended up with just a triple when it bounced off the top of the bricks in right-center. Per Statcast data, Thames is the first player in the last three years to hit a ball more than 430 feet and not get a homer. He was stranded at third. 

—- Over in Sacramento, a couple of rehab appearances went as planned. Johnny Cueto threw three scoreless innings for the River Cats; he will make at least one more minor league start. Joe Panik was 0-for-2 in five innings; he will join the San Jose Giants on Wednesday for another rehab game.