Injury-plagued Giants use a wild lineup

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It’s safe to say the defending world champs weren’t projecting this as a starting lineup a few months ago:

CF Cody Ross
2B Mike Fontenot
1B Pablo Sandoval
LF Aubrey Huff
RF Brandon Belt
SS Orlando Cabrera
3B Miguel Tejada
C Chris Stewart

For the record, this is the Giants’ 122nd game of the season.  The eight players in the Giants’ lineup tonight have started at those positions a grand total of 98 times this year.

Ross – 3
Fontenot – 8
Sandoval – 4
Huff – 1
Belt – 0
Cabrera – 16
Tejada – 37
Stewart – 29

Only Stewart and Tejada are playing at their most common positions.  Tejada actually had started 37 games at both third base and shortstop, but he had played more innings at third.

What made the odd lineup even odder is that the Giants originally had Huff in right field and Belt in left before switching the two.  Huff had played right in 13 of his 14 outfield starts this season, and all three of Belt’s previous outfield starts had come in left.

So, why are we seeing this?  Not only did Carlos Beltran go on the disabled list Tuesday, but the Giants have also had to send Nate Schierholtz (foot) and Jeff Keppinger (wrist) for tests that will help determine how much time they’ll miss.  Finally, Aaron Rowand is nursing a strained intercostal muscle.

At least the Giants have the right starter on the mound tonight: Jonathan Sanchez loves those walks and strikeouts, so there shouldn’t be a whole bunch of balls is play.  He can go as long as he wants, too: with just two players on the bench in Mark DeRosa and Eli Whiteside, the Giants don’t figure to do any pinch-hitting.

Watch: Mike Trout ties MLB record with his 25th home run

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It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:

In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.

Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.

Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.

Blue Jays acquire Tom Koehler from Marlins

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The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.

The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.

Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.