Associated Press file

Madison Bumgarner is the focus of some extended planning by the Giants, who are looking ahead to his workload after the All-Star break.

Giants look to end roller-coaster first half on high note behind Bumgarner

Published: Sunday, Jul. 13, 2014 - 12:20 pm

SAN FRANCISCO -- With how the Giants have played the past month, this may be the most startling item in the team’s notes before their final game before the All-Star Break: With a win today against the Diamondbacks, they can still match the 2011 team for the most wins by a Giants team before the break in the last 11 years.

A win today would be the Giants’ 52nd. Only three teams in the National League began the day with that many, and the Giants enter today only a game back of the Dodgers in the West. Going 9-22 over their last 31 games -- the majors’ worst record since June 9 -- wasn’t the ideal way to get there, but manager Bruce Bochy said today that, all things considered, he still thinks the Giants should be happy with where they are.

"It’s got to pick up for us to get to where we want to go," Bochy said. "But if you look at what we’ve done the last two, three weeks, and you’d told me that would happen but we are a game out, I would’ve done cartwheels around this ballpark.

"We’ve got to remind ourselves of that and how fortunate we are, because there are a lot of teams that would love to be right there where we’re at."

Bochy said he plans to head to Florida for the break and spend a few days relaxing before the Giants reconvene there to start the second half with a series against the Marlins. He said he intends to try to get away from baseball for a little while, and hopes his players can do the same.

"I want these players that aren’t going to the All-Star Game to just enjoy your break and hopefully clear our heads and get ready for a good second half," Bochy said.

It’s still unclear whether that will include Tim Hudson. Bochy said he’ll reveal his second half rotation after today’s game, presumably because he’s still waiting to find out whether Hudson will be named to the All-Star team as a replacement for Madison Bumgarner, who pitches today for the Giants and is therefore ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game.

If Hudson is named to the team, Bochy said, "It’d be great. And I know there’s a good chance that’s a possibility. I think Huddy’s had a great half, certainly deserves to go, and I hope I hear the news that that happens."

Meanwhile, here’s the Giants’ lineup for their first-half finale:

RF Pence

1B Belt

3B Sandoval

C Posey

LF Morse

2B Arias

CF Blanco

SS Crawford

P Bumgarner

And the Diamondbacks’ lineup against Bumgarner:

CF Inciarte

3B Prado

1B Goldschmidt

LF Trumbo

2B Hill

RF Ross

C Gosewich

SS Ahmed

P Nuno

* Marco Scutaro is off a day after making his Giants debut. Bochy said Scutaro came out of playing nine innings "a little sore," as the Giants expected.

"It’s a different level here, I don’t care how much you rehab," Bochy said. Scutaro should be "fine to go" for the Marlins series, he said.

* The Giants have been shut out 10 times this season, and five have come in their last 13 games. Bochy today said the Giants need to do a better job of "fighting our way across the plate," though he stopped short of endorsing big strategic changes such as more small ball, putting runners in motion and the like.

"We haven’t been getting a lot of guys on, to be honest -- I mean the right guys to where you can do some things," he said. "Certain guys, you can’t force the issue. You can be overly aggressive and now you’re asking guys to do something that’s not in their comfort zone."

It was pointed out to Bochy the Giants stole just three bases in the month of June. Angel Pagan’s absence was a factor that, along with the fact the Giants just don’t have a lot of speed guys. Of the players in today’s lineup, Hunter Pence and Gregor Blanco share the stolen base lead with eight.

Bochy did say he believes some of the power that fueled the Giants’ success over the first two months will return in the second half. He made it clear he wasn’t just talking about home runs, but hits driven into the gaps for extra bases. Right now, he said, the Giants as a team seem to be late too often at the plate, especially on hittable fastballs.

When the Giants did stop hitting home runs, Bochy acknowledged it likely had an effect on the offense as a whole.

"We were hitting so many of them that you weren’t thinking about moving guys over, you weren’t thinking about scratching and clawing for runs," he said. "But now it’s not working, now you’ve got to get the line moving."

* Angel Pagan still hasn’t swung a bat rehabbing in Arizona, and Bochy said Pagan will likely stay in Arizona next week rather than traveling to Florida to meet the Giants.


Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

Read more articles by Matt Kawahara



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