San Francisco Giants

Giants’ Trevor Brown savors his major-league debut

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Mike Leake throws to the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a baseball game on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in San Francisco.
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Mike Leake throws to the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a baseball game on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in San Francisco. AP

Trevor Brown said he had an inkling when he left AT&T Park on Friday night that he might be in the lineup Saturday. But it wasn’t until he came in and saw the lineup board that he knew for sure he’d be making his major-league debut as the Giants’ catcher against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"It was exactly what I thought it (would be)," Brown said. "Just getting out there in the first inning, getting behind the plate and kind of looking out at all the fans, it was exactly how I imagined it."

The outcome was a possible exception, as the Giants were shut out for the second straight game in a 6-0 loss to Arizona. The Diamondbacks totaled 16 hits, 15 of them singles, off Giants pitchers, many of whom were working with Brown for the first time. But even that couldn’t dim Brown’s enthusiasm about his first taste of the majors.

It wasn’t something Brown was expecting this season. He had gone home to Southern California after the Triple-A season ended and the Giants didn’t add him immediately to the major-league roster. He had spent about a week at home "pretty much sitting on the couch" before the Giants, missing backup catchers Andrew Susac and Hector Sanchez to injuries, decided to promote Brown last week.

For that reason, he wasn’t particularly bothered by an 0-for-3 on Saturday. He came up in the second inning with runners on first and third and two outs and hit a ball squarely - but on the ground and right to Arizona third baseman Jake Lamb. Instead of his first hit in the majors, it was an inning-ending fielder’s choice.

"Off the bat it felt good, then I looked up and saw him standing there and went, ‘Aw,’" Brown said. "Heart kind of sank. But I wasn’t really disappointed. (Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin) was dealing today. He pitched a good game. Just to go up and make solid contact one time (after a long layoff), I felt pretty good, I felt happy about that."

Brown’s debut was preceded by a busy morning. He had never worked with Mike Leake, the Giants’ starting pitcher, nor did he have any familiarity with the Arizona lineup. So he spent the morning bouncing around the Giants clubhouse, asking for advice from some of the Giants’ veteran pitchers about how to go after the Diamondbacks hitters, watching video of the Arizona lineup and meeting with Leake.

Brown had already shown that he’s a quick study. The 2012 10th-round draft pick out of UCLA played mostly infield in college -- he estimated about 75 percent infield and 25 at catcher -- and was primarily a second baseman in 2013 at Single-A Augusta. It was only last season at High-A San Jose that he started catching more, and spent all of this season behind the plate at Triple-A Sacramento.

The Giants thought enough of his athleticism and catching acumen to move him behind the plate -- a move manager Bruce Bochy said he doesn’t take lightly as a former catcher himself. Bochy said Brown’s "agility" was a major factor in the move, which the Giants felt might accelerate his path to the majors. Saturday, that proved to be true.

"The kid did all right, I thought," Bochy said after the game. "I think he received the ball well. I think time (on defense) got the whole club today -- we had some long innings out there. But Brownie, I thought he looked calm, looked fine, hit a ball hard there. Been a while since he’s played, but he did just fine."

There could be more opportunities forthcoming for Brown. With Brandon Belt out with a concussion, it’s likely Buster Posey will get more starts at first base, which leaves Brown and Jackson Williams as the backup catchers. Bochy also said Brown could be an option at first base when Posey catches.

Brown said he has "no idea" what to expect the rest of the season, but that, "Hopefully I can get as much time back there as I can." He took a moment after first getting behind the plate Saturday to savor the view. But after that, he said, it felt natural.

"Honestly, I thought I was going to be a little more nervous," Brown said. "Even going out there for the first inning catching, I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I was going to be.

"I had a blast out there. That’s all I really wanted to get out of today, was enjoy the moment."

* There weren’t many moments for the Giants -- or the announced crowd of 41,206, the 400th consecutive sellout at AT&T Park -- to enjoy. The game story covers the details of their being shut out in consecutive games for the first time since July 28-29, 2012. They have played the Diamondbacks nine times at home this season and been shut out in five.

"I’m buffaloed, to be honest," Bochy said, sounding it.

Also in that story: Bochy said Leake had complained of some forearm tightness after his last outing. It wasn’t enough to keep Leake from starting Saturday, and Leake afterward said he doesn’t think it’s anything more than late-season fatigue. But it was a reason that Bochy said he took Leake out after three innings, marking the right-hander’s shortest start since Sept. 24, 2013.

* Matt Cain, meanwhile, made his first appearance in relief since May 16, 2006 and gave up one run on two hits and a walk in the sixth inning. He needed 32 pitches to complete the inning, but struck out his final two batters in his first game action since August 25.

"He was probably chipping a little rust off, it’s been a while since he’s been out there," Bochy said. "But I thought he had good stuff. He ended up walking the leadoff hitter and that came back to get him. But I thought his stuff was fine, he felt healthy, threw some good breaking balls, had good velocity. It’s good to get him out there."

Cain went on the DL in late August with nerve irritation in his elbow, but said Saturday he had "no discomfort at all. It was really good."

* Diamondbacks pitchers have a 0.76 ERA in their last eight games at AT&T Park and have won six in a row in San Francisco for the first time in franchise history. The Giants will try to snap that streak Sunday behind Tim Hudson (7-8, 4.42). Arizona counters with right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (9-8, 4.60). First pitch at 1:05 p.m.