By Cyril Penn
Special to S.F. Examiner
ORACLE PARK — Kicking off a series against the Arizona Diamondbacks in their 50th game of the season, San Francisco (21-28) will look to notch a win without Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey or Brandon Belt in the lineup.
Crawford will remain sidelined after missing Thursday’s game with conjunctivitis.
“He’s been wearing contacts, I think he did go to a different pair, so hopefully that’ll help today, maybe,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “I think he’ll be fine to go tomorrow. I think he’s okay to go in the game late if needed.”
In Crawford’s place, Donovan Solano will get a second consecutive start at shortstop after being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday. In eight games this season, Solano is hitting .118 with just two hits across 17 at-bats. He went 0-for-4 at the plate with a sac-fly RBI and walk in his Thursday night start.
Bochy suggested that Posey, “Just needs a day,” after getting a lot of action in recent games, emphasized by last night’s 5-4 loss in 13 innings. Stephen Vogt will start at catcher in his place and is batting in the No. 8 spot.
As Belt continues to battle with inflammation in his right knee, Tyler Austin will start at first. With Austin slashing .364/.462/.697 with a 1.159 OPS against left-handed pitching this season, San Francisco will slot him in the No. 3 spot against Diamondbacks lefty Robbie Ray.
“We need a little help, a little pop, and he provides that,” Bochy said. “And I don’t want this to think it’s going to be a platoon with Belt … Normally, Belt would play today. I just wanted to get Austin out there.”
Bochy suggested that Austin will continue to get action in the outfield, particularly when facing left-handed pitching. The 27-year-old has gone yard in back-to-back games, and the Giants will hope that trend continues against Ray, who has gone 4-1 in 12 career starts against San Francisco with a 2.98 ERA.
While those three big names will be omitted from the starting lineup, Mac Williamson will remain in the lineup despite his 0-for-5 outing with five strikeouts yesterday, as Bochy aims to not fracture his confidence any further.
“Sometimes sitting a guy after a rough day like that, now you’re thinking about it more,” he said. “Let’s get right back on it. Back on the saddle so to speak, and just go. We’re big boys here. We’re going to have tough days. We’re going to come out, show resilience and hopefully get it turned around so I’m giving him that chance.”
Since showing promise immediately, going 2-for-4 with a home run in his first game back in the big leagues this season, Williamson’s performance at the plate has cratered. He’s slashing a .093/.188/.116 line while going 4-for-43 at the plate in following appearances, running out of chances to close the revolving door in left field.