Urban: First place is Giants' only salvation


Urban: First place is Giants' only salvation

Aug. 8, 2011


Follow @MUrbanCSN
Mychael Urban

SAN FRANCISCO -- With the Pirates coming into town riding a 10-game losing streak, there were two schools of thought among Giants fans.The glass-half-full set, of course, looked at Sunday's victory over the Phillies and figured, Sweet, the boys are about to break out and beat up on the weak part of the schedule. The glass-half-empty set? The Pirates are due.Pirates 5, Giants 0.So is the glass half-empty or half-full? Insanely enough, you can still make a case for both.
RECAP: Pirates end losing streak, shut out Giants 5-0
Half-full, mostly because the Diamondbacks absolutely refuse to take advantage of the Giants' generosity. When Tuesday dawns, San Francisco will again be perched atop the National League West standings, alone, despite having lost 12 of 18 games.Half-empty because, well, it's pretty damned bleak right now. Charlie Morton, bless his heart, is no Cliff Lee. Heck, he's not even close to a Vance Worley.Against these Giants, these days, he's even better. He's Orel Hershiser in his prime, rolling harmless grounder after harmless grounder.Half-full? Aside from the standings, there isn't much to support that stance. Sure, you squint and look at Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross and Andres Torres and kinda-sorta see, in your mind's eye, a blurry vision of 2010, back when these guys did some hitting of consequence. You know they have it in them. You've seen them do it before.But you haven't seen them do it in a long time, and the longer you squint, the more your eyes burn.
Giants Insider gallery: A Giant frustration
Half-empty? That's easy. Look no further than the numbers with runners in scoring position. Past 18 games: 20-for-125 (.160), including 0-for-10 on Monday.Hard to score when you can't drive 'em in from scoring position, and what happens when you remove the "S" from the RISP acronym?You get RIP.
The glass isn't half empty. It's on its side in a graveyard, dying a slow, painful death while the Diamondbacks desperately search for a shovel.

Pau Gasol's lofty praise for Warriors: 'In all my years in the league...'

Pau Gasol's lofty praise for Warriors: 'In all my years in the league...'

The Warriors are NBA Finals bound for the third straight year.

Following their Game 4 victory over the Spurs on Monday night, Pau Gasol opened up about the Western Conference champions.

“They’re in a groove,” Gasol told Courtney Cronin of the Bay Area News Group. “They know what it takes to win and obviously they’ve been champions, they’ve established records that have never been set before and they’re on a path to get another championship.

"In all my years in the league, they’re playing at the highest level right now.”

Gasol entered the NBA as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2001 draft.

He won championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.

The Warriors are the first team in NBA history to enter the Finals with a record of 12-0.

Their average margin of victory in the playoffs is 16.3 points.

Giants notes: Blach shows resiliency; another option in center?

Giants notes: Blach shows resiliency; another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.