It’s Memorial Day weekend, when summer is supposed to start (but is it really?). At least some areas are looking beautiful!
Highlights: Sacramento hit four home runs, Sean Hjelle made his California League Debut
The newly Yaz-less River Cats were okay with a reshuffled outfield, jumping on the Isotopes early and pounding home runs later.
Mike Gerber got back into the groove after going 1-for-7 over his last two games, with a 3-hit game and his eighth home run of the season.Gerber is wrapping up a May that was nearly as good as his April, tempered only by a disappointing try in the Majors. He’s batting .343/.410/.600 over the month.
The other 3-hit games with home runs came from Anthony Garcia and Levi Michael. For Garcia, it was his fifth home run of the year, and his first multi-hit game since Game 1 of a double-header on May 17th. He was 3-for-26 over the eight games since then. Levi Michael had his second home run in three games, giving him four on the season. all in the 17 games since he got called up to Triple-A.
Aramis Garcia added his sixth home run of the season as well, for his only hit of the game.
Aramis Garcia with a no doubter!!! River Cats 7 Isotopes 4. pic.twitter.com/m5MPlG6Vkv— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) May 26, 2019
Enderson Franco had the typical Triple-A start. He gave up four runs on six hits, three of which were home runs, but also struck out nine and two walks. His ERA is hovering right around seven on the season, well above his career average of 4.50. However, it’s hard to compare this year with the new baseballs at the level. He’s given up 13 home runs in 40 innings this season, and is just two away from his career high of 15 allowed last season in 133.1 innings.
A barrage of doubles was the key to this Richmond win. Five of the ten Richmond hits were doubles, along with a Zach Houchins triple, to help Richmond win.
In a nice break from Giants baseball, this game was all about a hot start from the bats. Gio Brusa led off the scoring with a bases-loaded double in the first inning to score a pair of runs.
Gio Brusa strikes for a two-run double— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) May 25, 2019
Just like that, we're up 2-0 in the 1st inning in Akron pic.twitter.com/rZhGxMaanK
That was quickly followed up by a pair of RBI singles by Will Maddox and Jalen Miller to give Richmond a big 4-1 lead after the first two innings.
Will Maddox scorches a double to bring home Zach Houchins— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) May 25, 2019
We're leading 3-0 in the 2nd inning pic.twitter.com/BmUUI8cNAK
That wasn’t all for Miller, who also picked up a second RBI single in the ninth. Miller was 2-for-4 and although he didn’t pick up any of the doubles, he did pick up his slumping average with his first multi-hit game since May 15th.
Jonah Arenado also had an RBI double, which was his sixth straight game with an RBI. Arenado has been picking up the heavy work in the middle of the Richmond lineup of late, collecting eight of his 15 RBI on the season in the last week. His batting average slipped back under the .300 line with the 1-for-5 day, but he still has a nice .800 OPS on the season.
Two relative newcomers at the back of the lineup came through. Houchins had his first hits since his first game with Richmond back on May 18th, and they were a double and a triple, and added a walk. Will Maddox had two doubles, giving him three in 13 games at Richmond Maddox hadn’t started a game since May 19th, when he also had a pair of hits.
Batting leadoff, Chris Shaw had a nice day, going 1-for-3 with two walks and even a stolen base. That was Shaw’s second base stolen in four attempts. Before this season, Shaw had attempted to steal just one base his entire pro career, and that was a successful attempt in the majors last year.
Conner Menez had a strong start for the Squirrels, marking his third straight game in which he gave up just two earned runs (although all three have managed to increase his ERA. But this game was emblematic of Menez’s hot and cold strikeouts. Over his last eight games, Menez has either had only 8-9 strikeouts when he’s been hot, or 3-4 strikeouts when he’s been lukewarm. Menez now has 55 strikeouts in 48.2 IP.
Kieran Lovegrove bounced back from a 4-run outing with a strong one, including striking out the side in the first of his two innings of work. Lovegrove has 14 strikeouts and 12 walks in 16 IP.
While the higher affiliates were all about breaking Giants tropes by scoring a lot in the first inning, San Jose was all about another trope by getting handcuffed by a pitcher they hadn’t seen before.
While Sean Hjelle was on the mound for his first California League result, the Giants were facing Japanese pitcher Shumpei Yoshikawa for the Rockies, and letting him get his first US win. San Jose remained scoreless until some late scoring in the eighth inning, getting just one hit against Yoshikawa.
But let’s start with Sean Hjelle. The Giants 2nd round pick from 2018 finally got his first start in San Jose, after getting a week off during his promotion (he last pitched on May 18th). He cruised until the fifth inning, when he gave up two of his four hits, plus a walk and a wild pitch. Hjelle nearly got out of the inning with just one run allowed, but a missed catch error by Fabian Pena led to two unearned runs (changed after the game). Hjelle had a 2.66 ERA in nine starts at Augusta, with 44 strikeouts and nine walks in 40.2 innings; this game, he had 5 strikeouts and two walks (one intentional). And, to his advantage, he only allowed three balls in the air, a good practice in the California League.
Sean Hjelle impressive in his #SJGiants debut tonight. Pitched six innings with four hits and two earned runs allowed (3 R total). Struck out five. All three runs scored in the fifth - should have been out of the inning with only 1 run (botched DP). FB was 91-93.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) May 26, 2019
As noted, the San Jose offense was mostly punchless. Kyle McPherson was the only player with two hits for San Jose, raising his average to .248. It was Kyle’s second 2-hit game in a row. Fabian Pena had the only extra-base hit, his second double in seven games. The 22-year old Pena is 5-for-20, and has four extra-base hits (two doubles and two home runs).
One note about the bullpen. San Jose’s bullpen had been spectacular this month, having not allowed a run in 40 consecutive innings of work, a 12-game span. Unfortunately, that ended in this game, Peter Lannoo gave up the run on three hits in the seventh inning.
Augusta was swept in a double-header against Greenville (Red Sox
This was definitely a tale of two games. In Game 1, Augusta managed just a single hit. In Game 2, it was 11 hits. Neither were enough.
Keaton Winn was on the mound for Game 1, as he is moving into a bigger role in the Augusta rotation after the promotion of Hjelle and Jake Wong. He only gave up four hits and a walk, but it still translated into three earned runs thanks to two doubles. It was nearly identical to his log in his last start, though with six hits allowed in that one.
The only hit for Augusta in Game 1 was Diego Rincones. He was much better in Game 2, going 3-for-3 with a walk and his first home run of the season, leading a doomed effort. Rincones had been 1-for-17 over his last five games, but ended up 4-for-6 with the home run raising his batting average from .258 to .272. It took 45 games for Rincones’ first home run, last season he had 7 in 61 games with Salem-Keizer.
Jacob Gonzalez also added three hits in a 3-for-5 Game 2, ended up with a 3-for-7 day with just one strikeout. That raised his sinking batting average back to .230. One bit of concern is for Ismael Munguia, who got lifted early in Game 2. Munguia was hit by a pitch to lead off the game, but initially stayed in. He got a single in his second at-bat, but was lifted after reaching first base. Hopefully it’s nothing serious.
The pitching, however, struggled badly. It’s one thing to have a starter give up two runs in 2.2 innings, but when that’s the best pitching performance of the game, that’s bad. But let’s look at what happened in that final inning, when the GreenJackets gave up seven runs. The first batter bunted, leading to an error by Gonzalez that let a run score. And then…
Wow, that’s a lot of changes. It led to shortstop Nico Giarratano switching over to pitcher, which meant Matheny had to move to short from second…and so on and so forth. The Giants lost their DH in the switching, but it didn’t matter. Giarratano did not fair any better than the pitchers did, and the game was sealed.
Today’s Scheduled Starters
Sacramento (Yoanys Quiala) at Albuquerque (Tim Melville), 5:05 pm PDT
Richmond (Alfred Gutierrez) at Akron (Sam Hentges), 6:35 pm EDT
San Jose (Matt Frisbee) at Visalia (TBA), 2:00 pm PDT
Augusta (TBA) vs. Greenville (TBA), 6:35 pm EDT
Let’s wrap up today with a couple of roster moves.
Transactions:— GPT (@giantsprospects) May 25, 2019
INF Anyesber Sivira: XST -> A
San Jose placed OF Logan Baldwin on the 7-day IL.
Augusta placed INF Orlando Garcia on the 7-day IL.
See you on Memorial Day…but sleep in a little if you can, okay?