Bay Area Baseball

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July 27, 2013
Bochy: Giants will focus more on fundamentals

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt's ninth-inning error was the most glaring of the Giants' mistakes in their 3-2 loss to the Cubs on Friday night. But it appears the game itself may have been a tipping point of sorts in a trying season.

Belt's was the 74th error the Giants have committed this season, which leads the National League (the Houston Astros lead the majors with 75). Manager Bruce Bochy said he held a meeting with the position players today about an increased focus on fundamentals like defense and baserunning, which "have cost us at times."

"I think my biggest disappointment right now is we're last in the league as far as errors, and that's not us," Bochy said. "That's what we've become, but it's not who we are. So from this point on we're going to spend more time on the basics, good fundamental baseball, and they'll spend more time on the field."

Bochy said that could mean increased time devoted to pre-game drills and days where the Giants skip batting practice completely and just work in the field. That wasn't the case today, as the Giants hit on the field before facing the Cubs, but Bochy made it clear he's not pleased with the defensive issues.

"We've got to get our focus back on catching the ball," he said. "If you look at why we were successful the last three years -- and I'll say even the last four years, playing winning baseball -- we pitched well, sure, and that's gotten away from us a little bit. But we also caught the ball.

"We were very good defensively, we didn't beat ourselves. And I think we are now. You look at last night and think the error was why we lost the game. That's not why we lost the game. Earlier in the game our baserunning mistake -- not to point the finger, but I think we've made some of those sometimes.

"You've got to be strong to compete and smart to win. And we've got to get back to playing smarter baseball."

Bochy added that he talked with Belt specifically and the first baseman is "fine. ... You have to deal with the ups and downs and he knows it. He's a tough kid. I know he felt horrible. But you've got to come out the next day and be ready to go and hopefully come back with a vengeance."

If Belt does that tonight, it'll be out of the eighth spot in the order. Belt is the only left-handed hitter in the Giants' lineup against Cubs lefty Chris Rusin, so Bochy said it made sense to slot him eighth. Jeff Francoeur is bumped up to sixth and Joaquin Arias, starting at shortstop with Brandon Crawford getting a night off, is seventh.

Here's the full Giants lineup:

CF Torres
2B Scutaro
C Posey
3B Sandoval
RF Pence
LF Francoeur
SS Arias
1B Belt
P Bumgarner

And the Cubs lineup against Bumgarner:

CF Lake
3B Ransom
1B Rizzo
C Navarro
SS Castro
RF Schierholtz
LF Gillespie
2B Barney
P Rusin

* Right-hander Guillermo Moscoso, whom the Giants acquired in a trade yesterday for a player to be named later or cash, is here but hasn't been activated. Bochy said that might happen Sunday.

Moscoso was starting for the Cubs' Triple-A affiliate in Iowa, where he was 7-5 with a 3.93 ERA in 17 games. His most recent major-league experience, with the Colorado Rockies in 2012, was primarily as a reliever -- he made 23 appearances and had a 6.12 ERA -- after starting for the A's in 2011. He said he doesn't know what his role with the Giants will be.

Moscoso said bouncing around different organizations the past couple years has been tough, and it was a difficult adjustment to pitching in the altitude in Colorado. Still, he said he won't rely on being back in the Bay Area to help bring his ERA down. He did say that he's already familiar with a few guys in the Giants clubhouse -- several from winter ball in Venezuela, including Marco Scutaro and Gregor Blanco -- so being with the Giants already feels a little "like home."

"Oakland, San Francisco, those are places pitchers love to pitch," he said. "But it's something you can't have in mind when you pitch. You just try to go out there and do your best and make quality pitches no matter where you're at."

* Ryan Vogelsong threw 45 pitches in 2 2/3 innings in a rehab start at Single-A San Jose on Friday night and allowed tow runs on one hit and one walk with three strikeouts. Bochy said he talked with Vogelsong and the right-hander "felt great."

"In the bullpen, he said, he was a little uncomfortable ... getting the ball where he wanted," Bochy said. "But he made a good adjustment and he felt good just coming out of that outing."

Vogelsong will now rejoin the Giants for their trip to the White House on Monday before joining Double-A Richmond to continue his rehab.

* One contributor down the stretch last season who may not be with the Giants in D.C. -- reliever George Kontos, recently sent back down to Triple-A Fresno. Bochy said there have been talks about possibly bringing Kontos on the trip, but made it sound unlikely.

"He's helping out Fresno right now," Bochy said. "It was something that was discussed, but whether we do it or not, I can't tell you that."

* The Giants turn to Madison Bumgarner tonight hoping to right a stretch in which they've lost five of six, dropping to 10 games under .500 and eight games behind the first-place Dodgers. Bumgarner is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in three career starts against the Cubs at AT&T Park -- so there's that.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Email: mkawahara@sacbee.com.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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