San Francisco Giants

Giants’ Bochy tweaks lineup ahead of ‘huge game’ against Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants haven’t scored a run off a starting pitcher in the first two games of this series and have one run total in 32 innings against starters over their last four games. So manager Bruce Bochy makes a small tweak at the top of the lineup for today’s series finale against the Dodgers, putting Gregor Blanco in the leadoff spot and dropping Hunter Pence to second.

Bochy said last night and reiterated today that Blanco had some of the Giants’ better swings -- and one of their two hits -- against Clayton Kershaw. So even though the Dodgers have another lefty going tonight in Hyun-Jin Ryu, Blanco will be in the leadoff spot, where he has made 24 starts this season but hit just .202 with a .292 on-base percentage.

"I like the way he’s being more aggressive, attacking the ball a little better," Bochy said of Blanco. "Hopefully he’ll help get us going in the leadoff spot. Tough spot for him -- Ryu’s not easy and it’s a 5 p.m. game -- but I just like his at-bats."

Here’s the Giants’ full lineup against Ryu:

CF Blanco

RF Pence

C Posey

3B Sandoval

LF Morse

1B Duvall

2B Uggla

SS Crawford

P Peavy

And the Dodgers’ lineup against Peavy in his Giants debut:

2B Gordon

CF Puig

1B Gonzalez

SS Ramirez

LF Crawford

RF Kemp

3B Uribe

C Ellis

P Ryu

* It’s a big stage for Peavy in his introduction to the Giants and the AT&T Park fans -- nationally televised game, primetime start. But it sounds like that’s the environment in which Peavy normally thrives. Bochy repeated today that one of Peavy’s most valuable qualities is his competitiveness.

"If I could compare him to somebody, he’s almost like a Hunter Pence on the mound," Bochy said. "Jake’s going to give you everything he’s got, he brings the fire and the intensity that you love."

To clear a roster spot for Peavy, the Giants optioned reliever George Kontos to Triple-A on Saturday night. It’s a tough break for Kontos, who contributed some valuable innings during the Giants’ series in Philadelphia -- including 2 1/3 innings in their 14-inning win Tuesday -- and Bochy said he told Kontos as much.

"It’s not (a demotion) that he earned," Bochy said. "It’s just a numbers thing with him, because he did save our skin in Philly. He got two wins there and just did a great job of saving the bullpen.

"Unfortunately you get caught in these situations, especially when you make a trade around the deadline, you have to make a move. He understands. He’ll be back up here, hopefully sooner than later."

* The Giants are nearing a decision on Angel Pagan. The center fielder is still in Arizona and has not begun playing in rehab games, but he is taking batting practice and running, and Bochy said the Giants hope to make a call either Monday or Tuesday on when Pagan can begin a minor-league rehab assignment.

The Giants are very familiar by now with how pesky back injuries like Pagan’s can be, so they haven’t laid out a timetable for his return. "I can’t give you a target date now," said Bochy. "But he is making progress, which is encouraging."

* Brandon Belt and Hector Sanchez, both of whom are on the 7-day concussion DL, were scheduled to be re-evaluated this afternoon. Bochy said both players are "making progress," but that Belt, who suffered his concussion a week ago, is "not ready" to return. "He still feels it a little bit."

Bochy said his guess is "it’s going to be a few more days" before Belt is cleared, at which point the Giants will decide whether he needs to play in rehab games before rejoining the team. "It just depends on the time he’s missed," Bochy said.

* By winning the first two games of this series, the Dodgers have re-taken a half-game lead over the Giants in the West. Though it’s still the end of July, Bochy acknowledged that avoiding a sweep today is "pretty critical."

"This is a huge game -- not the end-all, but at the same time you’d like to get on track, especially at home," he said. "They’ve had their way with us, they’ve gotten two really great pitching efforts from their two guys, and they’re swinging the bats well. So it’d be nice, even though we’ve lost the series, to soften that a little bit and get this one."