video thumbnail

SF@PHI: Bumgarner fans six over eight scoreless

Before the All-Star break, managers Bruce Bochy and Don Mattingly opted for different strategies regarding their starting rotations for the second half.

Mattingly arranged his starters so that co-aces Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw would each face the Giants in last weekend's three-game series. Bochy chose not to shuffle his starters just to match his top of the rotation against the Dodgers. A three-game sweep by Los Angeles later, the early advantage goes to Mattingly and the Dodgers.

What made life a tad easier for the Dodgers last weekend will make life more difficult for the Pirates in their three-game series at AT&T Park that begins Monday night.

They'll be faced first by Bumgarner, who's a not-too-shabby 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA (five earned runs in 20 1/3 innings) and 18 strikeouts in his last three starts. The lefty had lost his previous three starts, but has since regained command of his offspeed pitches.

That's bad news for the Pirates, a team he's compiled a 1-2 record and 1.71 ERA in three career starts against.

He'll be opposed Monday by Sacramento native Vance Worley. The 26-year-old righty was thrust into the rotation thanks to injuries to Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano and has made the most of his opportunity -- he's 3-1 with a 3.10 ERA in seven appearances (six starts) this season.

Worley is 2-1 with a 4.09 ERA in three career starts against the Giants.

Giants: Morse not fretting homer drought
Batting practice is highly entertaining when Michael Morse or Hunter Pence is in the batter's box -- except for the unsuspecting AT&T Park employees who have nearly been struck by one of the pair's regular practice blasts into the left-field bleachers.

A few pitches after frightening a park worker with a batting practice ball that landed just a couple rows away before a recent home game, Morse destroyed a ball that one-hopped onto the cat-walk in front of the Coca-Cola bottle and glove in left field. Pence followed with a trio of dingers that landed deep into the bleachers.

"I love watching him hit batting practice and one day I would like to see him in a Home Run Derby, because he's got the talent and potential for that," Pence said Sunday. "His best bolt is just a bit better than my best bolt."

Added Morse: "I'm just hoping it translates into a game one of these days."

It's been a while since it has, especially at AT&T Park.

In 46 games since May 31, Morse has gone yard just three times and driven in nine runs. He hasn't homered at AT&T Park since May 15. He quickly impressed in his first season with the Giants, as he hit .295 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs in 56 games through May.

His early power surge helped catapult the Giants to the Majors' best record in early June (they're 41-16 when they hit at least one home run), and its disappearance contributed heavily to the lack of offense that plagued the team during its month-long slide from grace to second place.

Pence credited his teammate's power outage to hard-to-homer-in AT&T Park. He said he remembers five different recent Morse doubles or flyouts that would've left most parks. Morse isn't taking solace in that.

"If you hit a ball good enough, it's probably going to go out," he said, "no matter where you're playing."

Morse is well-aware of his home run drought, but he's not fretting it.

"They come. Home runs come with good swings. I'm not trying to do anything besides get a base hit and get on base. If I don't hit another home run for the rest of the year, I'm content with it. It is what it is."

Pirates: Pittsburgh active in trade discussions
The pressure is on for the Pirates to win, and to win now, one season after making their first playoff appearance since 1992.

Currently sitting three games back in the National League Central and 1 1/2 behind the Braves for the second Wild Card spot, they won't mortgage the farm system to boost their chances, though.

Manager Clint Hurdle said trade discussions are ongoing, but it's hard to pinpoint a price the team is willing to pay.

"I think there are different scenarios that you have different levels of conversation about, depending on the player that you're talking about," Hurdle said. "But [general manager Neal Huntington and I] are very like-minded in understanding the industry, supply versus demand, what can help now versus maybe hamstring you later.

"You start talking about moving three or four prospects in your Top 10 or 15, which can get a little dicey. I'm with Neal, and the fact of the matter is they're much educated on the level and the quality of these prospects than I am ... so there's a lot of trust involved."

Hurdle wasn't clear when he was asked what positions the team is looking to upgrade, but the Pirates have been linked to Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller and Phillies pitchers Antonio Bastardo and A.J. Burnett.

Worth noting
• The Giants trail the Dodgers by 1 1/2 games in the National League West. It's their largest deficit since July 4.

• Gerrit Cole will make his first rehab start for Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday night. The 23-year-old has been out since July 9 with right lat soreness, which was two starts after returning from a DL stint with right shoulder fatigue.

MLB.com Comments