Giants locked down by Blue Jays in interleague opener

Game 1 of the Giants’ first interleague series against the Toronto Blue Jays was every bit as odd as it might sound.

On the mound, at the plate, in the outfield — the game was dictated by unfamiliarity as the Blue Jays (17-17) pulled ahead with a 3-1 win on Monday night.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.

The mismatch started on the mound. Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez (W, 3-1, 2.58 ERA), in his first career start against the Giants (17-17), was just nasty.

The Giants’ lineup kept to their game — staying patient and drawing five walks — but Sanchez kept to his game, too. He threw a consistent mid-90s fastball that mystified his opponents to the tune of a three-hit, one-run, five-strikeout outing.

Only Trevor Brown, in for a resting Buster Posey behind the dish, could get a little something going against the 23-year-old. He went 2-for-4 on the night, and said his bottom-of-the-lineup spot let him sit back and assess how to approach Sanchez’s pitch movement:

Watching guys in front of me, I figured out he’s going to be coming at me with fastballs. I knew what his ball was doing just from watching video and watching the game so I was just trying to combat against the sink, kind of staying inside and almost swing under it a little bit.”

But his productivity in the eight-hole went unused. The heart of the lineup went cold, or stayed cold, from the looks of Sunday’s shutout at the hands of the Rockies.

Brandon Belt, who has now hit safely in eight straight games, sent a ball into the lights enough to blind a bewildered Michael Saunders in left. The ball fell for a double and sent Matt Duffy to third with one out. A Hunter Pence ground ball sent Duffy home for the Giants’ only RBI.

Saunders and the Blue Jays had trouble with AT&T Park. Saunders lost another ball, foul, as he tripped over the bullpen that ended up bouncing right off his head and Kevin Pillar, the circus catch master, lost a Brandon Crawford hit in the bottom of the ninth that bounced for a ground-rule double. Crawford was stranded there.

One thing the Jays managed to figure out: Jake Peavy.

Peavy (L, 1-4, 8.47 ERA) took his first loss at home since July 8 of last year, surprisingly enough. In his fourth loss of the season, Peavy threw caution to the wind against these heavy hitters and, as a result, tossed one of his most even-keeled games yet:

“It’s different facing a team built like that. A team that’s one through seven, Russell Martin hitting in seven hole is a guy with 10 years. (Troy) Tulowitzki hitting in front of him in the six hole, MVP (Josh Donaldson) hitting second around some really good guys. It’s a really good lineup looking to do damage. I’m familiar with that game and I had a game plan and when we executed it, it was pretty much right on.”

Peavy was more in control Monday night, holding his stuff away from the plate just enough. He left his most costly mistake up early, a fastball that edged over the middle to Edwin Encarnación, who pummeled it to left field for a two-run homer.

Peavy was just going for it; walking five and striking out six:

“I just wasn’t going to give in at any point in time to that ball club. The walks were all up top to guys where you don’t give in. You see the at bat that Encarnación had you fight and fight, and you get a ball over the plate and change the game.”

Bruce Bochy came in to, seemingly, relieve Peavy, who was 90+ pitches deep with runners in scoring position and two outs in the fifth. But he left him in to face Tulowitzki, who eventually walked, and forced Martin to pop out to end the threat.He mounted 112 pitches, a season high. Said Peavy about Bochy’s vote of confidence, leaving him in the game:

“I’m glad he did.”

Said Bochy:

“He made pitches when he had to and kept us in the game. He worked hard.”

The Giants looked too stumped to mount any sort of comeback — too far deep into Toronto’s pitching depth.

They’ll get another chance Tuesday when Matt Cain (0-4, 7.84 ERA) takes on J.A. Happ (4-0, 2.50 ERA) to replicate Cain’s 2012 perfect game matchup.


Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.