Brian Matusz knocked around in first start since demotion to minors

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Brian Matusz was demoted to the minors last week after posting an 8.77 ERA over his first six starts. The young left-hander had his first start back at Triple-A Norfolk last night and according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, it didn’t go so well.

Matusz allowed four runs on seven hits (including two home runs) over 5 2/3 innings in a loss to Triple-A Charlotte. He threw 51 out of 87 pitches for strikes while striking out three, walking two and throwing a wild pitch.

Matusz, who began the year on the disabled list with an intercostal strain, allowed nine home runs over just 25 2/3 innings before being sent to the minor leagues last week. It’s easy to say there was some bad luck involved there, but when you consider that the velocity on his fastball is down three MPH from last season, opposing batters are clearly having no problem squaring him up right now.

Giants place Hunter Pence on 10-day disabled list with right thumb sprain

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The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.

Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).

Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.