Maybe the Giants’ pitchers all rubbed Madison Bumgarner’s shaggy brown-and-blond beard for luck, because they mirrored his dominant ways on Friday night in a 3-0 win over the A’s. It was a game that finished so quickly, the fans in Scottsdale had plenty of time to hit one of the town’s several restaurants and watering holes a few blocks away.
Bruce Bochy suggested after the game that we had plenty of time to make it to the Salty Señorita. I’ve learned over the last few years that a Spring Training game isn’t complete until Bochy advises the assembled media on what or where to drink afterward. It’s one of the charming parts of covering the Giants in Arizona, something I’ll be finished with after this weekend.
Throughout my stay the pitching has been up and down, but mostly up (in a good way) — especially when the relievers come in. There have been some rough outings for the non-Bumgarner starters, and while Yusmeiro Petit is hoping to make the squad as a long reliever … he looked really good in a four-inning, seven-strikeout performance in his first start of the spring.
“This was a big start for Petit,” said Bochy. “His velocity had picked up a little bit, made his other pitches crisper. He was using both sides and that’s what he was doing last year.”
Petit was followed by another long-relief candidate, lefty David Huff. Huff struck out two in three perfect innings, then Derek Law and Sergio Romo finished up with one perfect inning each. It all added up to a two-hit shutout, and the first two pitchers of the night are probably looking at roster spots at the beginning of the season. Bochy was in no mood to confirm that assumption, though.
“We haven’t picked the staff yet, but a lefty and a righty there that could go long and start, gives you some flexibility,” said Bochy.
“As I said earlier, it’s going to be the last couple days before we have this thing down. What you have to like is how competitive this spring has been, how well they’ve all thrown. Including the kids I sent down today. It’s nice to have these arms and these options.”
— Sonny Gray, who’ll probably end up starting on Opening Day for Oakland, gave up an unearned run in 5.2 innings, striking out seven himself. “Gray was throwing awesome,” said Michael Morse, who reached on an error and struck out looking in his first game back from a minor calf injury that’s been bothering him for the better part of two weeks.
— Josh Reddick, who climbed the wall here to catch two would-be homers off the bat of Morse in this Spring’s first game, came over and showed Morse a t-shirt before game that read, “ROB IT LIKE REDDICK.” Then Reddick left the game early with what was termed as “contact lens complications.” Coming from someone who’s never had to wear glasses or contacts, that sounds painful.
— Something has to be wrong with Yoenis Cespedes, who struck out all three times and is now hitting .130. I’ve heard he has a wrist issue of some sort … so why is he playing right now?
— Pablo Sandoval left Thursday night’s game early because he spent time earlier in the day at the dentist’s office, getting his braces replaced with some clear ones. He also had some scar tissue removed from his mouth, but he’ll play on Saturday.
— Hector Sanchez took a couple balls off his shoulder, but he said it was all in a day’s work.
“Hector’s had a good spring, he really has. Catching, blocking, everything. It’s good to see him in this condition. Last year it was a battle to keep him on the field,” Bochy said of his backup catcher, who went 2-for-3 to raise his Cactus League average to .325.
“He can hit. Last year his shoulder was bothering him with the follow through and he doesn’t feel that at all. He’s a different player this year now.”
— It’s fun to watch Gregor Blanco run the bases, and we were in the clubhouse talking to Morse when he hit a triple (he later scored on a sac fly from Brandon Crawford. We were still talking to Morse when Blanco walked in after scoring.
“I’m ready now!” Blanco said with a huge smile.
— Apparently Brandon Belt really, really likes Red Bull. There were about 10 boxes, each containing four cans of the stuff, sitting in front of his locker today.
— Belt is a big Stephen F. Austin fan, so he was fired up over their 77-75 upset over VCU (SFA is located in Belt’s hometown of Nacogdoches). Belt was talking trash to Crawford, who replied, “11 national championships.” Crawford went to UCLA, which was busy holding off Tulsa while this was going on (the Bruins ended up winning their first round game by 17).
That means the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks will face the UCLA Bruins in the second round. Both players might ask for the day off on Sunday so they can spend the day watching hoops and throwing things (barbs, baseballs, cans of Red Bull) at each other.
— Morse talked about being the emergency catcher on the Washington Nationals one year. In order to practice receiving pitches, he searched out a pitcher who didn’t throw too hard and wouldn’t fire several pitches into the dirt. That led him to … Livan Hernandez.
Morse said Hernandez would ask Morse to move his mitt a few inches to the side. Then up three inches. Then over three more inches. And “Livo” would hit the spot every time at 83 mph, said Morse, who has no designs on replacing Pablo Sandoval as the Giants’ emergency catcher.
“For me to catch on this team, throw in the white towel.”