Urban: Giants' Keppinger deal solid if unspectacular


Urban: Giants' Keppinger deal solid if unspectacular

July 19, 2011


Mychael Urban

He's not the middle-of-the-order slugger that many Giants fans would love to see brought into the defense of the 2010 World Series title, but he's scrappy in general, solid defensively and rarely strikes out.Welcome to San Francisco, Jeff Keppinger. The world is your crab sandwich.
RELATED: Giants acquire 2B Keppinger from Astros
Keppinger, a 31-year-old second baseman batting .307 with seven strikeouts in 163 at-bats this season, was acquired by the Giants on Tuesday afternoon for minor-league righties Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel. Not exactly a thriller of a trade, but when you factor in what the Giants need and what they gave up to get some of what they need -- versatility, someone who can hit for a decent average, and a guy who puts the ball in play -- it's an awfully nice little deal.

The right-handed hitting Keppinger, a .284 hitter over parts of seven big-league seasons with the Mets, Royals, Reds and 'Stros, also can play third base, shortstop and in the outfield. The obvious questions: What does this mean for Freddy Sanchez? Is surgery a lock now? What does it mean for Miguel Tejada andor Brandon Crawford? How much will Keppinger play and where will he bat?Those questions will be answered in time. Perhaps as early as early this evening, when Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy address the media. Perhaps even earlier, when I speak with VP of baseball operations Bobby Evans for the latest edition of "Coming Down the Pipes," a part of our "Big Urbcast: Inside the Giants" podcast series.For now, though, this looks like a win for the Giants. They got a good player who is making 2.3 million this year and will be arb-eligible next year so if Sanchez isn't ready for Opening Day 2012, Keppinger will likely be around to keep the chair warm at second base.They gave up a flamethrower in Sosa, but radar guns don't mean a ton without command, and Sosa has never been counted on as a big part of the future because of his lack of command. Stoffel? A throw-in. This isn't about the future, anyway. It's about now. And when you look at Tuesday, July 19 in a few months from now, you might very well look back on it fondly. Brandon Belt is back, too, folks, and that's as thrilling as anything.

Hundley still not ready to discuss future; Cain to start during final weekend

Hundley still not ready to discuss future; Cain to start during final weekend

PHOENIX — A few weeks ago, Nick Hundley said he preferred not to talk about his future until the end of the season. We’re close enough, so after hitting the go-ahead homer Monday night, Hundley was again asked about his 2018 plans. He smiled.

“How many have we got left? Five?” he said. “Ask me Sunday.”

It’s not just the media and fans seeking an answer from the popular backup who has nine homers. The Giants hope to get some feel from Hundley as they finalize offseason plans, and manager Bruce Bochy said he would talk to the veteran this week. Bochy left no doubt about what he hopes will happen.

“I think he knows what we think of him,” he said. 

Hundley, a 34-year-old who came over in the offseason, has been one of the few overachievers this season. He has 32 extra-base hits in 274 at-bats, taking advantage of increased time with Brandon Belt done for the year and Buster Posey sliding over to first base. Hundley is one of the lineup’s more potent right-handed options, and he has earned praise from the starting staff. Johnny Cueto said Hundley helped him navigate a post-clinch Diamondbacks lineup that was essentially pulled straight out of Triple-A. 

Cueto did so with ease, striking out eight in six innings. He evened his record at 8-8, and he’ll have a chance to clinch a winning season on Sunday. Bochy said Cueto will start the final game of the season, and he confirmed that Matt Cain will start either Friday or Saturday. Asked for more details, the manager kept it just as mysterious as his catcher. 

“I’ll let you know tomorrow,” he said.

Mariners club four home runs, end A's seven-game winning streak

Mariners club four home runs, end A's seven-game winning streak


OAKLAND -- Mitch Haniger homered twice and Felix Hernandez won for the first time in more than two months as the Seattle Mariners defeated the Oakland Athletics 7-1 on Monday night.

A day after being eliminated from playoff contention, the slumping Mariners snapped Oakland's season-high seven-game winning streak and its eight-game run at home - the team's second-longest in 11 years.

The Mariners had lost eight of nine.

Hernandez (6-5) gave up one run in six innings of two-hit ball. King Felix hadn't won since July 15, a stretch that included a stint on the disabled list from Aug. 2 to Sept. 13 with right shoulder bursitis. He was 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in his previous five starts.

Haniger hit his 15th and 16th home runs off starter Daniel Gossett (4-10). The 24-year-old Oakland rookie gave up seven runs on a career-high four homers allowed.

Mike Zunino hit a three-run shot, his 24th, that broke a scoreless tie in the second. Yonder Alonso added his 26th homer, connecting against his former team.

Marcus Semien hit a solo homer off Hernandez in the sixth.

Andrew Albers pitched three shutout innings for his first save.

A's catcher Bruce Maxwell played his first game since becoming the first player in the majors to kneel during the national anthem Saturday, part of a national protest movement against discrimination and harsh treatment of blacks by police. He was greeted with a loud ovation along with some boos sprinkled in from the Oakland crowd of 9,329. Maxwell cleared the concussion protocol on Monday. He hadn't played since Sept. 20.

In an apparent show of support for Maxwell, most of the Oakland Unified School District band members took a knee as they performed the national anthem before the game.

2,500 CLUB:
The 31-year-old Hernandez became the fifth active pitcher to log more than 2,500 career innings.

Mariners: INF Jean Segura (sprained right middle finger) will likely miss the remainder of the series, manager Scott Servais said. "He wants to get in there before the season's over. It's important to him, but he's not going to be available for a couple of days," Servais said.

Athletics: 1B Matt Olson was scheduled to have an MRI to determine the severity of a hamstring injury he sustained Sunday. The 23-year-old rookie will miss the rest of the series, manager Bob Melvin said. Olson has 25 home runs in 189 at-bats. "We're hoping we can get him back in Texas, but I'm not so sure about that," Melvin said. ... LHP Sean Manaea, who missed his last scheduled start on Saturday with upper back tightness, threw a bullpen and is on track to make his next start Thursday, Melvin said.

Mariners: LHP James Paxton (12-5, 3.03 ERA) is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in two starts since coming off the DL on Sept. 14. He had been sidelined with a strained left pectoral muscle. Paxton is 3-0 with a 3.77 ERA in five career starts against Oakland.

Athletics: RHP Daniel Mengden (2-1, 3.30) is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in his last three starts. Mengden took the loss in his only career start against Seattle last season. He struck out six and gave up two runs on five hits and two walks in five innings.