Bruce Bochy

'It's just not fun': Basic mistakes haunt Giants in loss to Dodgers

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USATSI

'It's just not fun': Basic mistakes haunt Giants in loss to Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO — The defining moment of Wednesday’s loss, No. 91 on the season, was not provided by a player, or by the manager, or by any of the coaches who have active field roles. It was bullpen catcher Eli Whiteside, with fire in his eyes, stalking up and down the dugout and yelling at a lifeless team. Even the best of lip readers would only pick up a few unprintable words and little else, but the overall message was clear. 

“Right now he’s letting everybody know that this is unacceptable and this is not how the Giants play and this is not how this organization won three world championships,” Duane Kuiper said on the broadcast. “So let’s go.”

As Whiteside, a former Giant, continued to try and bring something out of the worst team in Major League Baseball, Kuiper added, “And by the way, you don’t want to fight him.”

Right now, the Giants look like they don’t want to fight anybody. 

Wednesday’s result was familiar, but the loss was jarring nonetheless. The Giants are somehow hitting new lows, and a night after three misplays led to a loss, there were a handful of basic mistakes. Hunter Pence let a pop-up drop at his feet for a second straight night. That was followed by a Pablo Sandoval error and a dropped throw. Denard Span ran into a 1-6-5-4 double play in the first and Jarrett Parker was doubled off of first on a shallow fly ball to left in the seventh. Throw in some poor pitches and at-bats, too. It all added up to a 4-1 loss to the Dodgers, who came in with a 10-game losing streak and left feeling quite healthy. That’s what the 2017 Giants do for you. 

“It is frustrating,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We need to clean it up and communicate better. It’s happened too often. These are things that shouldn’t happen on a Major League field.”

Bochy’s post-game response was muted, perhaps because he’s used to this at this point. All of the Giants seem to be, and that’s probably what had Whiteside so fired up. The Giants have the worst record in baseball and they might lose 100 games. That has been their reality for months, and they haven’t done anything to change their situation. 

“It’s just not fun,” said Matt Moore, who gave up four runs in a short start. “Winning games is fun … winning cures everything and we haven’t done a whole lot of that this year.”

The Giants have 14 games left, and on Wednesday night, they looked very much like a team that is aching for the end to come. The dugout was still and the clubhouse even quieter. Bochy, sitting on the podium, talked of mistakes that need to be fixed for next year, but truthfully, these are mistakes that shouldn’t be made regardless of the date. 

Pence’s play was the most glaring, if only because it was a doppelgänger of a similar play Tuesday night. The only difference was this time the ball dropped between Pence and Kelby Tomlinson, not Pence and Joe Panik. Pence said the mistakes were his, that he needs to “scream bloody murder” until an infielder backs off. 

“I made the mistakes and I’ve got to make an adjustment,” he said. 

It’s never a lack of effort with Pence, who beat out two infield singles and scored the lone Giants run. Bochy said it’s not a lack of effort team-wide, either. But something is missing. 

“Regardless of what’s going on in the season,” Moore said, “We’ve got to be better than that.”

Panik ties MLB record, reminds Bochy of Gwynn with 12 hits in three games

Panik ties MLB record, reminds Bochy of Gwynn with 12 hits in three games

DENVER — With expanded rosters, Bruce Bochy has started mapping his lineups out days in advance. Before Tuesday’s game, he told Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford that one of them would be off for Wednesday’s series finale. 

Crawford told Bochy he felt fine physically and wanted to try and get a win before the Giants left Denver for the season. Panik let his bat do the talking. 

The second baseman had five hits in an 11-3 win over the Rockies Wednesday night, following three-hit and four-hit games. Panik tied a major league record with 12 hits in a three-game series, and he became the first big leaguer to do it since Boston’s Jerry Remy in 1981. 

The feat left Panik shaking his head and smiling. It left his manager comparing him to one of the all-time greats.

“I’ll say this, I was lucky and fortunate to have played with and managed Tony Gwynn,” Bochy said, his eyes lighting up. “He had some great series, but I don’t recall him having a series like this ... Everything (Panik) hit, he hit on the barrel and found holes. When he didn’t, he hit it out (of the park) or hit a gapper. It was quite a display of hitting. It did remind me of Tony.”

There’s no higher praise than that, and Panik is doing a pretty good Gwynn impression on the road this season. Away from AT&T Park’s harsh dimensions, Panik is hitting .342. His average at home is just .212, and it was a two-hit series against the Cardinals that had Panik contemplating changes. 

He went up to hitting coach Hensley Meulens before the first game of this series and told him his bat felt heavy over the weekend. Meulens spends hours every week looking at exit velocity data and launch angles and anything else Statcast spits out, but he suggested a very old-school tweak. Meulens told Panik to choke up on the bat. He homered in his first at-bat Monday and never cooled off. 

“I’m going to keep riding it,” Panik said of his approach. “It’s funny, it’s just a simple thing. It makes the bat lighter in your hands and it allows you to see the ball better. I’m going to keep doing it. Sometimes, it’s the simplest things. When it comes to hitting, you can overanalyze it. We’re playing the same game as in little league, and sometimes you’ve got to think basic.”

Panik had a single in the first Wednesday and scored the game's first run. He had RBI doubles in the fourth and sixth. In the eighth, he hit a bouncer up the middle to tie Mike Benjamin’s franchise record for hits in a three-game series. As Panik ran to first, a Rockies player in the dugout yelled out that he was having a Tony Gwynn-type night. Panik smiled and chatted it up with first base coach Jose Alguacil, and it appeared his record run would end there. But this is Coors Field, and the Giants kept pouring it on. Panik got one more chance in the ninth and bounced another single up the middle, raising his average to .285. It was .267 when the Giants landed in Denver. 

“Everything is slow,” Panik said of his at-bats. “It’s a good feeling to be in. Every time up I feel like I can be patient. I feel like I’m in control of the at-bat. It’s definitely a good feeling.”

Panik knows it won’t last. It never does. But he has had this feeling in the past for a day or two at a time, and he’s happy to keep it going as long as he can. 

As he packed up Wednesday and prepared to leave Coors Field for the South Side, Panik said he was looking forward to getting a nice steak dinner with his wife on the day off. He was sketching out other plans, too. 

“I might go to the White Sox place and take a few cuts,” Panik said.

Sandoval extends hitless streak, Giants go down quietly at Coors

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AP

Sandoval extends hitless streak, Giants go down quietly at Coors

DENVER — As Jae-Gyun Hwang flies back to South Korea, at some point he might ponder an important question: What if the Giants had given me a marketable nickname?

Hwang had hoped to get some serious time in September for the Giants. The team chose instead to remove Hwang from the roster and take a second look at Pablo Sandoval, and after some mildly encouraging early returns, the gamble has backfired. 

Sandoval was 0-for-4 on Monday at Coors Field and he’s hitless in his last 33 at-bats. That’s the longest streak by a Giant since Johnnie LeMaster made 37 consecutive outs in 1984. Sandoval is batting .196 in 97 at-bats since returning to his first home, with an OPS that’s about 100 points below the mark that inspired the Red Sox to cut bait and swallow $50 million. 

Asked about Sandoval after a 4-3 loss, Bruce Bochy said sharply, “We’ve got a few guys cold.”

“It’s not like any young players are tearing it up, either,” Bochy said. “I’m just being honest. He’s had some success here (at Coors) and against their pitcher (Chad Bettis). We’re trying to finish strong and give Pablo a good look with (Ryder) Jones and (Mac) Williamson.”

Before Monday’s game, Bochy said Sandoval is drifting too much in his swing as he prepares to take hacks. It doesn’t help that his aggressiveness on pitches out of the zone is what it was in his first go-around. 

The Giants appear to have been wrong about Sandoval, but Bochy is right about one thing: He has plenty of cold hitters, a list that includes Jones, another option at third. Jones didn’t play Monday but the guys who did didn’t do much. Joe Panik and Denard Span had six hits at the top of the order. The other Giants were 1-for-25 at the best hitter’s park in the game. 

That made for a tight game, and the Giants generally blow those. Three different players made mistakes in the ninth. Williamson was too far back with a lefty, Charlie Blackmon, at the plate to lead off. He said he didn’t want to let a ball get behind him in the thin air, and the wind was swirling. When Blackmon hit a pop-up to shallow left-center, Williamson’s diving attempt ended with the ball hitting off his glove. Blackmon reached second, and Steven Okert intentionally walked Nolan Arenado and then unintentionally walked Gerardo Parra to put Cory Gearrin in a tough spot. 

Gearrin struck out Pat Valaika, but Joe West did him no favors by Joe West-ing it up and opening the next at-bat by ruling a clear strike was a ball. Gearrin sprayed three more to Carlos Gonzalez, walking in the winning run. 

“Regardless (of the first pitch) I have to come in there and throw strikes and make better pitches,” Gearrin said. “It’s just unacceptable for me to come in and not throw strikes and make that a competitive at-bat.”

The Giants didn’t have many competitive at-bats once it got past the top two in their order. Afterward, Bochy sat in the dugout for a few minutes and stared out at the field. When he met with reporters, he acknowledged that Sandoval will need another day off to try and clear his head and fix his swing. 

“We just gave him a day off,” Bochy said. “We just gave him a day off not too long ago.”