The Giants shook things up and rattled off their first win in four games Monday night. The hope for this bottom-dwelling team was to catch a little more steam at home against their rivals.
Clayton Kershaw had other plans. And an offensive crack at that wall wouldn’t be enough. Comebacks fell short, rookie magic couldn’t amount to much and the Los Angeles Dodgers handed San Francisco its 14th loss, 2-1, Tuesday night.
Facing the best pitcher in baseball seemed a tall order for rookie Christian Arroyo, but he kept a mature head about it. Kershaw (W, 4-1, 2.29 ERA) fed Arroyo a welcome-to-the-big-leagues fastball down the pipe out the gate, a move the rookie anticipated:
“I figured maybe he’d come at me, so I said ‘if you get a heater, take a good swing at it.”
Arroyo made contact, good enough for his first major league hit, into left field and in time for his parents and siblings to witness up in the stands:
“That was probably a moment I will never forget … some of the guys were saying ‘that’s a good one to get your first hit off.'”
His teammates aren’t wrong. Only a handful of them have been able to crack that code.
Ty Blach, Tuesday’s starter in for injured ace Madison Bumgarner, happens to be one of them. He came into the game with two career hits, both against Kershaw, but was open to fellow teammates’ advice regarding the upcoming matchup. Especially from the only other pitcher in the bigs with more than two hits against the Dodger ace:
“Bumgarner talked to me before the game and said ‘he’s probably gonna throw you up and in since they threw you down and away last time. So look for that.'”
So Blach got his third hit, pummeling a fastball up and in for a double to the warning track, sparking what would be the biggest inning for the Giants (7-14). He said:
“Sometimes you just swing hard and get lucky I guess.”
Hunter Pence got a little lucky, too, beating out a ground ball up the middle to put runners on the corners.
The next-best Kershaw-beater, Buster Posey, sent a single up the middle — his 22nd career hit against the three-time Cy Young winner — with two outs to give the Giants an early 1-0 lead.
The lead felt monumental given the work Blach (L, 0-1, 4.22 ERA) was doing on the other end. He took a 14-inning scoreless streak against the Dodgers (10-11) into the fourth. That’s when things got dicey.
“That fourth inning lead of walk just kills you.”
And the Dodgers weren’t done.
Adrian Gonzalez chopped one to Posey at first, who stared down Turner, holding him at third, before mowing down Puig at second. The aggressive Turner made a run for home plate and Crawford’s throw home just escaped the glove of Nick Hundley on a short-hop for what would have been in time for the double play. But, alas, it was to no avail.
Manager Bruce Bochy said it was the right play on Posey’s end — Turner was being coy — and Crawford made due, said the Gold Glove shortstop:
“I’d like to say I should have gotten a better throw, but I got rid of it as fast as I could.”
The Dodgers gave Kershaw a mighty one-run lead he’d keep through his 7-inning, seven-strikeout outing.
Blach ran into a bit of trouble again in the fourth. Chris Taylor singled to lead off and Kershaw pushed him into scoring position with a sac bunt. Bochy came out to check on Blach, who had reached 70 pitches — his highest total of the season by about 50 — to see if he could get one more batter. Enrique Hernandez line out right to end the threat, capping the rookie’s solid 5-inning, two-run outing.
Blach was grateful for Bochy’s vote of confidence. Bochy was pleased to have a pitcher able to keep this one close:
“Ty gave us all we needed against a tough pitcher and kept us in the game. And we were in the game.”
The Giants’ bullpen took over in the sixth and made sure some sort of comeback was still a possibility.
Cory Gearrin let the Dodgers load the bases on a single and pair of walks, one intentional, but kept a Kershaw attempt at a sac fly shallow enough to prevent a slow Gonzalez from expanding their lead.
The Giants threatened an ever-elusive late-inning comeback against All-Star closer Kenley Jansen. Posey rattled a two-out single to left and Crawford punched one the other way to put runners on the corners.
Crawford grabbed his groin as he rounded first, though, and was taken out of the game — he did look sprightly taking sprints during a replay review, but it wasn’t worth the fight, said Bochy:
“He did it good enough to the point where we had to take him out for a pinch runner.”
This presented the first Jeff Samardzija pinch-running appearance of the season.
But Jansen struck out pinch-hitting Brandon Belt swinging after evening the count on a borderline called strike up in the zone. He silenced the bottom of the lineup in order in the ninth to get the save and hand the Giants their 14th loss.
Crawford is scheduled to get an MRI on his right groin before he leaves for Los Angeles to attend his sister-in-law’s funeral services and be with family. Crawford said he felt tightness but no pop, which is a good sign, but didn’t want to aggravate the soreness he felt while running. Bochy said he is day-to-day, and he was scheduled to miss the next two games because of that trip, anyway. He is now likely to be placed on three-day bereavement leave. … Bumgarner had an MRI Monday, but there was no official announcement regarding its conclusion. One should be made available Wednesday, according to the team. Bochy said before Tuesday’s game that he should begin light rehabbing in four to five days as surgery has been ruled out. The timeline for his return remains at two months.