Results tagged ‘ Nate Schierholtz ’

Pagan likely to rest in L.A. finale

Tuesday, May 8

LOS ANGELES — Center fielder Angel Pagan was removed from the Giants’ 2-1 victory Tuesday night after sustaining a cramp in his left hamstring and likely will not start Wednesday’s series finale, manager Bruce Bochy said.

Pagan felt uncomfortable after beating out a slow roller toward third base in the eighth inning. Gregor Blanco immediately replaced him.

Wednesday’s outfield could be composed of Blanco, Melky Cabrera and Nate Schierholtz, who has hit safely in his last three games and is batting .421 (8-for-19) lifetime against right-hander Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles’ starting pitcher for the series finale.

Chris Haft

Bumgarner remains in control

Tuesday, July 19

SAN FRANCISCO — Maybe it’s time to stop worrying about Madison Bumgarner and start wondering just how good he is.

Bumgarner’s excellence was somewhat obscured by Brandon Belt’s offensive fireworks Tuesday in the Giants’ 5-3 victory over the Dodgers. In case you missed it, Bumgarner pitched superbly.

He walked none, extending his streak of games in which he walked one or fewer to nine in a row.

He threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of the 28 batters he faced.

He worked eight innings, ridiculing the skeptics who believed that his huge increase in innings pitched last year would ultimately sap his strength or even endanger his health this season.

More than two months of the regular season must be played. That’s plenty of time for doom and gloom to befall Bumgarner. Right now, though, he looks ready to cruise into October and win another two or three postseason games.

*****

The evening might not have gone so well for the Giants without shortstop Brandon Crawford’s alert defense in the third inning.

The Dodgers had three runs in and appeared destined to score more as Juan Rivera followed Rafael Furcal’s two-run single with another single. As Furcal scooted to third base, Crawford cut off Nate Schierholtz’s strong throw from right field and noticed that Rivera had strayed a little too far from first base on his turn. Crawford threw quickly and accurately to first, retiring Rivera and dampening Los Angeles’ rally.

“That was a big-time play,” an appreciative Bumgarner said.

*****

All anybody heard about Dodgers starter Rubby De La Rosa before Tuesday was that he threw the heck out of the ball. Indeed, De La Rosa reached 100 mph on the AT&T Park velocity readings.

But if a pitcher’s stuff is predictable or lacks movement, he’s going to get hit. Crawford, for example, whacked a 95 mph heater from De La Rosa for a second-inning single, immediately after Brandon Belt stroked a. 91-mph delivery onto the right-field arcade for his homer. One inning later, Schierholtz singled by catching up with a 97-mph fastball.

*****

I was curious about what happened the last time the Giants built a six-game winning streak against the Dodgers — July 19-Sept. 26, 1969. As usual, baseball-reference.com had all the answers.

The Giants’ future Hall of Famers played key roles in those six games. No surprise there. Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry each won twice. Willie McCovey, in the midst of his Most Valuable Player season, homered twice. Willie Mays batted .389 (7-for-18).

Win No. 5 in that streak might have been the nuttiest game of the bunch. It was sealed in the 10th inning when McCovey drew an intentional walk with two outs and nobody on base. Reliever Pete Mikkelsen proceeded to walk Bobby Bonds and Ken Henderson unintentionally, loading thie bases. Jim Davenport then hit a ground ball that scooted between Maury Wills’ legs, giving San Francisco the winning run.

Chris Haft

Why Beltran makes sense for SF; more from Sunday

Sunday, July 17

SAN DIEGO — Acquiring Carlos Beltran is virtually imperative for the Giants.

Not to reach the postseason, but to play deep into October.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean wouldn’t dare speak of Beltran as primarily a postseason asset. His healthy respect for San Francisco’s National League West rivals would prevent him from assuming publicly that winning the division is a fait accompli and that Beltran’s value potentially would emerge more in the postseason than in the regular season.

But the postseason is when the Giants will need Beltran the most. Chances are good that if they win the West, they’ll again face Atlanta and/or Philadelphia, as they did en route to last year’s World Series. Then the Giants will truly need a formidable hitter like Beltran to offset the Braves’ or Phillies’ pitching, since both staffs appear to be improved from a year ago.

Pitching becomes doubly important in the postseason; that’s why the Giants proudly wear those big, fat, beautiful rings. Maybe the Giants could outpitch Atlanta or Philadelphia. But the Braves seem tougher, with Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson developing into co-aces and Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel coming out of the bullpen throwing 235 mph. And don’t forget about Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe.

Giants fans believe their team’s starting rotation is the best in the Major Leagues. That notion is ridiculed in Philadelphia, where Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels anchor the pitching staff.

The Giants struggle to score against mediocre pitching. Imagine the challenge they’ll face against the Braves or Phillies.

But if the Giants gets Beltran, they’ll have at least one hitter who the Braves and Phillies must dwell upon in their scouting reports. And San Francisco’s bench would become deeper. For example, manager Bruce Bochy would have one more respectable pinch-hitter at his disposal — anyone among Cody Ross, Aaron Rowand, Andres Torres or Nate Schierholtz, depending who’s in or out of that night’s lineup.

Moreover, check out how Beltran has fared against some of the key Braves and Phillies pitchers.

The switch-hitting outfielder owns a remarkable .351 lifetime batting average (26-for-74) with four home runs and 17 RBIs against Hudson. Beltran also is a respectable 2-for-8 off Venters, though that’s not a representative sample size. There’s also no denying that Beltran has trouble with Lowe (.225, 9-for-40), Jurrjens (.182, 4-for-22) and Hanson (0-for-10).

Beltran has succeeded against Halladay (.333, 14-for-42, two homers, 10 RBIs) and Hamels (.278, three homers, five RBIs). Lee (.125, 1-for-8) has given him problems. But Beltran loves to face Ryan Madson, Phladelphia’s top set-up reliever (.429 9-for-21, four homers, six RBIs).

As has been reported, several other teams are in the hunt for Beltran. But the Giants might be the club he’s able to help most.

*****

In case you didn’t see the boxscore, the Giants who accounted for the San Francisco-era record-tying six stolen bases Sunday were Emmanuel Burriss and Nate Schierholtz, who had two apiece, and Eli Whiteside and Andres Torres, who each pilfered one.

“I had one of them. I’ll be damned,” said a jovial Whiteside.

The Giants improved to 11-1 when they steal at least two bases. Coincidence or correlation? I think you know the answer. Regardless, they’re more fun to watch when Bochy puts runners in motion. It doesn’t always work, but the Giants sometimes have to try to force the issue with their offense to get anywhere.

This marked the third time since moving to San Francisco in 1958 that the Giants stole six bases. It last happened on Sept. 8, 1987, in a 6-4 victory at Houston. Kevin Mitchell totaled three, Dave Henderson (a stretch-drive acquisition) had two and Chris Speier added one.

The other occasion was June 27, 1984 in a messy 14-9 win over Cincinnati. Dusty Baker stole second, third and home, all in the same inning. Bob Brenly, Johnnie LeMaster and Dan Gladden each had one.

*****

The Giants have maintained that they can survive for up to a month as long as couple of hitters get hot. This happened last year, when Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey and Torres sustained the team during its 20-8 July. And it’s happening now, though the Giants keep playing mostly low-scoring games.

Nate Schierholtz (.362 in July) and Pablo Sandoval (.322 in July) have been the month’s biggest contributors. But MIguel Tejada (.341) and Andres Torres (.317) have helped. All that’s missing is a little consistency.

Chris Haft

More from Friday (Giants 1, Padres 0)

Friday, Sept. 10

SAN DIEGO — Ah, the little things. They make such a big difference, as was the case Friday night in the Giants’ 1-0 victory over San Diego that pulled them into a virtual tie for first place in the National League West.

Here’s a partial list of the little things that fueled not just this triumph but also San Francisco’s postseason hopes:

– Catcher Eli Whiteside’s strong throw that apprehended Everth Cabrera, who tried to steal second base in the eighth inning. “That kind of sealed it for us,” Giants closer Brian Wilson said.

– Nate Schierholtz’s hustling slide into second baseman David Eckstein to break up a seventh-inning double play and enable the Giants to tally the game’s lone run. “He [Eckstein] was right on top of the bag and I was able to get a piece of him,” Schierholtz said.

– Juan Uribe’s defense. He assisted on four putouts, three involving Miguel Tejada.

– Chris Haft

Whiteside-for-Posey move confounds many

Monday, July 5

MILWAUKEE — The Giants’  4-3 loss Sunday could be remembered for its sheer duration (15 innings spanning five hours and 24 minutes), its novelty (the back-to-back homers by Nate Schierholtz and Andres Torres, with the latter being inside-the-park — the first such tandem of homers by Giants since Mays/McCovey in 1966) or its agony (the Giants’ 10th defeat in 12 games).

Judging from the reaction back home and wherever Giants fans reside, none of this matters to the public. You — and your opinion counts, because you buy tickets and drive TV/radio ratings — are incensed over manager Bruce Bochy’s use of Eli Whiteside to pinch run for Buster Posey in the eighth inning.

Bochy explained after the game that he wanted Whiteside on the basepaths instead of Posey, who had just singled Pablo Sandoval to third. “On a ball in the gap, he [Whiteside] is going to score,” Bochy said. “He runs well. Which almost happened.” That last remark was a reference to Travis Ishikawa’s two-out single, which sent home Sandoval and moved Whiteside to third. But Edgar Renteria grounded out, the score remained tied 3-3 and you know the rest.

You’re disturbed because Whiteside went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, including a 13th-inning whiff with Aubrey Huff on third base and one out and a popup to end the 15th with Huff on second base. You’re annoyed because Whiteside was charged with a throwing error in the 14th that put Seth Smith on third base with nobody out (though Guillermo Mota, the eventual losing pitcher, admirably escaped that jam). You’re confounded because you’re wondering whether Whiteside really is that much faster than Posey.

From my vantage point, he isn’t. But I will never pretend to know half as much about baseball as Bochy or any of his coaches. At the same time, y’all are UPSET. It just adds to the rising tide of discontent surrounding the Giants that probably won’t ebb right away, unless they go on a nice little 12-game winning streak.

Today’s game is about four hours away as I write this. Can’t wait, can you? My best guess is that Whiteside won’t be running for Posey today — mainly because Huff, who did virtually everything he could to try to win Sunday’s game, will be worn out and in need of a rest. So Posey probably will play first while Whiteside catches.

After Sunday, what else can befall the Giants?

– Chris Haft

Tidbits from Tuesday

Tuesday, May 25

SAN FRANCISCO — Shortstop Edgar Renteria’s right hamstring injury is extremely ominous.

Renteria’s 34. He struggled through elbow and shoulder ailments last year. He worked hard to return healthy this season, and his .326 batting average reflects the fruits of his labor.

But he missed two games in late April with discomfort in his left shoulder. Then he went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin. Renteria rejoined the lineup last Saturday in Oakland, and now comes his hamstring injury.

It’s fair to wonder whether Renteria’s body is breaking down. This is not at all a criticism of Renteria. It’s just a question that inevitably arises when an athlete his age, who has played as extensively and diligently as he has, encounters an alarming sequence of injuries.

So much for the retooled lineup manager Bruce Bochy used in the series-opening 4-2 victory over the Washington Nationals. Juan Uribe likely will return to shortstop, with Pablo Sandoval going back to third base and Aubrey Huff resuming his tenure at first base after his Tuesday stint in left field. John Bowker probably will play left, unless Nate Schierholtz’s bruised right shoulder has healed enough to enable him to start in right field. If that’s the case, Andres Torres, who appears destined to stay in the lineup for a while, will occupy left.

*****

After striking out the side in Tuesday’s ninth inning for his 11th save, Giants closer Brian Wilson has 27 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. That’s a rate of 14.02 whiffs per nine innings. Remarkable.

*****

You may have read this elsewhere, but right-hander Zack Wheeler, the Giants’ first-round selection (sixth overall) in the First-Year Player Draft who’s pitching for low-Class A Augusta, went on the disabled list with what manager Dave Machemer called “a problem with a fingernail” on his throwing hand, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

In the Minors, a visit to the DL requires a minimum seven-day stay instead of the 15-day base in the Majors.

Wheeler, who turns 20 on Sunday, is 1-3 with a 5.03 ERA in seven starts, though he has improved somewhat in his last four outings (1-1, 3.95).

*****

Don’t mean to scare you, but had the Giants lost Tuesday, they would have dropped into fourth place in the National League West. Then again, with 118 games remaining, there’s no need to dwell on the standings. 

– Chris Haft

Plenty to salvage for Giants in defeat

Saturday, May 8

NEW YORK — The Giants actually did a lot more right than they did wrong on Saturday. But their 5-4 loss to the New York Mets obscured that.

Many of their 44 plate appearances resulted in quality at-bats. Aubrey Huff made solid contact each time up. Aaron Rowand, after going 0-for-3, came through with a key single in the Giants’ two-run eighth inning that tied the score. Juan Uribe had a big two-out RBI single in the fourth. Eli Whiteside reached base safely in three of his four plate appearances, singling solidly twice.

Nate Schierholtz lined a pinch-hit single to lead off the eighth against Johan Santana and is now batting .471 (8-for-17) against left-handers. Facing Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez for the second game in a row, pinch-hitter John Bowker didn’t hit another home run, but managed to coax a 10th-inning walk.

As for struggling Pablo Sandoval, the Kung Fu Panda still looked like he was fighting himself. But he wasn’t helpless, either. He blooped a fourth-inning single to right-center field and launched an eighth-inning sacrifice fly off Santana on a two-strike count. “That was a little relief for him,” manager Bruce Bochy said, summarizing Sandoval’s day. “I thought he took some better swings.”

Bochy will take all of this into account as he assembles Sunday’s lineup. He didn’t rule out resting Sandoval, who has started all 29 games at third base. Schierholtz likely will return to right field; his prowess against lefties — the Giants face Mets southpaw Oliver Perez — doesn’t hurt.

On to the pitching. Brandon Medders recorded what might have been his best outing of the season, working 2 2/3 scoreless innings to trim his ERA from 6.23 to 4.76. Jeremy Affeldt blew away the Mets for two innings, striking out two. The pair of eighth-inning hits he allowed were bloops that no fielder could reach. “That was the best I’ve felt all year,” Affeldt said. This is particularly encouraging for the Giants, who are relying on Affeldt to be a shutdown setup man.

“I was aggressive early [in the count],” he said. “I was getting strike one instead of falling behind early. I threw curveballs for strikes when I needed to and for balls when I needed to.”

About the only thing the Giants neglected to do was win.

– Chris Haft

Defense adds sparkle to diamond

Tuesday, April 27

SAN FRANCISCO — Great pitching is sublime. Powerful, consistent hitting is impressive. But few aspects of baseball demonstrate its beautiful, skillful demands like defense.

There was plenty of that on display at AT&T Park on Tuesday as the Giants defeated the Phillies, 6-2. If you saw it, consider yourself fortunate.

The defensive display began early, as Schierholtz dove to snare Placido Polanco’s fly to right-center field for the second out in the first inning.

Schierholtz gained an accomplice in the second inning. He corralled Ryan Howard’s liner into the right-field corner and unleased a strong one-hop throw to second base, where shortstop Edgar Renteria was waiting nonchalantly. Fooled by Renteria’s passive posture, Howard slowed as he neared the bag, believing he had a sure double. Instead, Renteria slapped the tag on Howard a stride before he reached base.

The Phillies’ turn came in the third. With Renteria on first base and one out, Sandoval smacked a grounder up the middle that shortstop Juan Castro lunged for and gloved. Falling down, he shoveled the ball from his glove — under his right arm, like a basketball player making a no-look pass — to second baseman Chase Utley, who barehanded the ball and relayed it to first for a double play.

Footnote: I covered Castro for a few years in Cincinnati. He’s like a master violinist who performs in obscurity. Everybody in baseball, however, knows what a marvelous defender he is. That play he made was eye-popping but not surprising.

Recapturing the spotlight, Schierholtz ran down Carlos Ruiz’s long drive to right-center to christen the fifth inning. Then Schierholtz threw out Utley, who was trying to stretch a single into a double, to open the ninth. That gave Schierholtz two outfield assists in a game for the first time in his relatively brief career (193 games). The last Giants outfielder to record two outfield assists in a game was Randy Winn on April 15, 2006 at Los Angeles.

– Chris Haft

Schierholtz might be in leadoff mix

Friday, April 23

SAN FRANCISCO — Fully expecting an answer along the lines of, “Are you kidding?”, I asked manager Bruce Bochy before Friday’s game if he has considered trying Nate Schierholtz as a leadoff hitter during Aaron Rowand’s stay on the disabled list.

Somewhat surprisingly, Bochy said that he has indeed thought about batting Schierholtz leadoff. After San Francisco’s 4-1 victory Friday over the St. Louis Cardinals, Bochy dropped no hints regarding who would lead off Saturday against right-hander Adam Wainwright, St. Louis’ co-ace. Don’t be surprised if it’s Schierholtz, whose playing time in right field has increased lately (though that’s partly due to Rowand’s absence).

The case for Schierholtz:

– He’s hitting .320, and his on-base percentage is .414. Schierholtz has drawn three walks in 30 plate appearances, which isn’t much. But it’s a heck of an improvement over his career ratio. Entering this season, Schierholtz had walked 21 times in 506 plate appearances.

– He’s fast.

– Eugenio Velez, who has been leading off against right-handers since Rowand went on the DL, is in a 1-for-16 skid.

– It’s fair to say that Bochy is reluctant to use Andres Torres, Friday’s leadoff man, against right-handers. Torres, a switch-hitter, batted .210 off righties last year and is 0-for-8 against them this season.

Schierholtz has never started a game at leadoff during his Major League career. But there’s a first time for everything.

– Chris Haft

Schierholtz picks himself up

Monday, March 29
PHOENIX — Don’t assume that Nate Schierholtz will easily give up in the Giants’ right field competition.

Schierholtz, whose status as the likely Opening Day right fielder was eroded by his inability to hit consistently, smacked an RBI triple and a double, drew a walk and scored three runs Monday in the Giants’ 8-6 exhibition victory over Milwaukee. “It was good for Nate to get a few knocks,” said bench coach Ron Wotus, who managed the final three innings after Bruce Bochy left to attend to a personal matter.

Schierholtz also played the entire game in right field, though that wasn’t tremendously significant.

Here’s what was significant: John Bowker, Schierholtz’s apparent chief rival for the job, kept hitting. Bowker hiked his team-leading totals to five home runs and 20 RBIs with a two-run homer in the fifth inning. He also doubled in the first, helping lift his batting average to .308. Schierholtz is at .241, but his superior defensive skill will continue to be a factor.

Bowker has a Minor League option remaining, but he could make the Opening Day roster if Fred Lewis’ ribcage injury lingers and forces him onto the disabled list.

*****

The afternoon’s most entertaining hitter, however, had to be Eugenio Velez.

Velez cranked a long, long, l-o-n-g drive past the right-field foul pole in the first inning off Milwaukee starter Dave Bush. Velez’s clout was ruled foul.

Undaunted, Velez crushed the next pitch to straightaway right field for a legitimate home run. Everybody knows that Velez is capable of spectacular deeds. But this?

“You don’t see that often, do you?” Wotus said. “We were talking about it in the dugout. [Shawon] Dunston said usually when you do that, it takes the air out of you.”

Historical/personal notes: Ed Bailey followed a foul home run with a “real” homer on the next pitch in Game 162 of the 1962 season to open the Giants’ scoring in their 2-1 victory over Houston that put them in a three-game playoff with the Dodgers. Somewhere I have a collection of highlight tapes that includes Willie McCovey performing the foul-fair/back-to-back act in the mid-1960s (I have a feeling he did this more than once).

And I distinctly recall attending a Giants-Padres doubleheader at Candlestick in 1974 or ’75 when Randy Moffitt faced Bobby Tolan with the bases loaded. Tolan yanked one foul into the upper deck before clobbering Moffitt’s next pitch almost as far, and this time fair, for a grand slam en route to another Giants loss.  

*****

To nobody’s surprise, center fielder Darren Ford won this year’s Harry S. Jordan Award in voting by his teammates, the coaches and the athletic training staff.

The award is given to the player in his first Major League camp whose performance and dedication best exemplifies the San Francisco Giants spirit. Past winners include Tim Lincecum (2007), Pedro Feliz (2001) and Russ Ortiz (1998).

Ford, 24, was San Francisco’s sensation of the spring, impressing all observers with his .500 batting average (10-for-20) and sprinter’s speed.

Reassigned to Minor League camp last Friday, Ford is likely to begin the season with Double-A Richmond.

– Chris Haft

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