The SF Giants grabbed an 8-5 win in a split-squad game against the Kansas City Royals. Improving to 10-15 and 1 tie, Johnny Cueto got the win, and Brandon Belt homered once again (his 5th of the spring). The other squad goes tonight at 7:05pm.
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The most important thing to watch in these last few games leading into the 2016 season is the work of the pitching staff. And with a performance like today’s Cueto is starting to ease the fears that some fans were starting to have regarding the staff.
Going 6 innings, giving up 3 runs (2 on a HR by DH Travis Snyder), Cueto struck out 6 and looked in more control of his stuff. His ability to locate is a key factor in his success in the past. And with no walks today, he showed that he is beginning to find his arm slot and repeat it. Cueto could prove to be the best number two starter in baseball if he can do that.
Belt is absolutely sizzling with the long ball right now. His swing has always been made to get the ball over the fence, but consistency to stay on the field and taking too many pitches has gotten him into trouble at times. He looks like he is locked in right now, and that could be the impetus of the team wanting to discuss an extension. As has been stated previously, Belt’s numbers line up nicely with those of Freddie Freeman last season. If that turns out to be a good comparison for Belt, the Giants would be in great shape if they were to get an extension done right now.
As for the rest of the team, Conor Gillaspie continues to vie for a spot on the roster, hitting his 2nd home run, and currently is hitting .324 with a fair amount of at bats. Along with Gorkys Hernandez (2-2 with a run scored today) and Ehire Adrianza (2-3 and hitting .353 this spring), the Giants have a plethora of options to choose from for the last couple of spots on the roster. There hasn’t been a Giants team in recent memory that has had as many good players fighting for one or two spots. If they don’t make the team, other clubs have to be salivating at the chance to pick up a quality player to improve their current rosters.
In addition to Cueto on the mound, Sergio Romo struck out the side in the ninth. His success this year will be critical if the team has any chance late in games. And even if Hunter Strickland is seen as the most likely bullpen arm to close if Santiago Casilla falters or lands on the disabled list, Romo’s experience in that role could prove to be invaluable.
Tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers will feature Clayton Blackburn on the mound, and will be played in the Dodgers home field of Camelback Ranch.