The Giants struck early with a burst of power in Friday night’s rival series opener with the Dodgers, and it looked like they and Derek Holland were preparing to go unchallenged as they contributed to the losing streak with which LA rolled into AT&T Park.
But the Dodgers (11-13) grabbed ahold of the game’s momentum in the fourth and things got dicey for a few innings before San Francisco (12-12) swept in to take the ‘W.’
Holland (ND, 0-3, 4.98 ERA), sporting a new mustache, pitched a solid first few innings and was given some cushion in the second when the Giants added two more home runs to their team tally (27) off the bats of Evan Longoria (4) and Brandon Crawford (1).
Longoria led off the inning sending an 81-mph changeup for a 425-foot ride to the right-center field bleachers for a solo shot. Not to be outdone, Brandon Crawford added a second solo shot three batters later.
After a 1-2-3 third inning with a 2-0 lead, many of the 41,936 in attendance — even those in blue — may have been surprised to observe Holland’s fourth-inning meltdown after having thrown just 50 pitches.
He opened the inning by walking Matt Kemp, and Yasmani Grandal made him pay for it with a line drive into the gap in right-center field. It would have been a three-bagger off the bat of someone who doesn’t spend nine innings in the squat, but as it was it was good for an RBI double to get the Dodgers on the board.
Holland continued to unravel as he followed by walking Cody Bellinger on four pitches and giving up a hard-hit ground ball down the left field line to Yasiel Puig. As the ball bounced around in the Giants bullpen area it was touched by a fan offering Holland a reprieve, after umpires in New York ruled it a double and placed the speedy Bellinger at third.
There was hope. The Giants could get out with the lead in tact, or at least a tie ball game, if only Holland could pull himself together. With that, the southpaw got Kyle Farmer to whiff on a 3-2 sinker and notched his first out of the inning. It seemed his second was likely in the on-deck circle with pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu up next. It was not to be.
Ryu drew eight pitches before grounding the ninth down the left-field line for a double that scored Bellinger and Puig giving LA the 4-2 lead and chasing Holland from the game. Pierce Johnson came in and finished the inning without further event, but the Dodgers had swiped the lead.
Holland was frustrated with the base-on-balls issue Friday night. He gave up four in his 3-1/3 innings, but just seven in his four previous starts combined.
“Those lead-off walks, they always come [back to get you], and as a pitcher it’s not like I’m out there saying, ‘Hey I don’t feel like pitching to you,” [but] it just shows how important walks are, and that’s why I’m frustrated — you can’t defend a walk.”
San Francisco slogged through the next three innings with a sense of inevitability as Ryu (ND, 3-0, 1.99 ERA) put Giant after Giant down, but after 5-2/3 innings and 89 pitches Buster Posey had had enough. The only way to get on base with Ryu on the mound was a direct assault, he must have thought. So he hit a grounder right at the hurler and ran like hell.
It worked, kind of. He legged it into a single, and it chased Ryu from the game, which made way for the damage to be done one inning later, in the seventh.
Brandon Belt led off that inning with a bunt single against reliever Tony Cingrani (L, 0-1, 6.52 ERA) to get the rally started. After taking second base on a Cingrani wild pitch, Belt got greedy and was put out on the base path between second and third on an Austin Jackson grounder to shortstop. But all was not lost, and Jackson replaced him at first on the fielder’s choice.
Manager Bruce Bochy credited Belt for getting the rally started:
“Belt did a nice job just igniting this offense [with] that perfect bunt, and we just had great at-bats.”
Hernández shot a ground ball double to left field to score Jackson and move Crawford to third making it 4-3. Tomlinson came up next to pinch-hit for Sam Dyson (W, 1-0, 4.22 ERA), who had pitched a clean seventh to collect the win, and knocked another grounder to left to score Crawford and move Hernández over, tying the game.
“Gorkys had a nice game and of course Tommy (Tomlinson) really came through there for us. Tomlinson’s got a short swing, it’s a base hit swing. He doesn’t strike out a lot, and you feel comfortable he’s gonna put the ball in play there. It’s his biggest hit this year. He had big ones last year coming off the bench, but a pinch-hit double like that, that’s what the bench can do for you.”
It was then that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts decided that Cingrani was done, but the Giants were not.
Righty Pedro Baez came in to mop up, but instead gave up two more runs and the lead. Hernández scored when Baez, who seemed to catch his spikes and slip off the mound during his delivery to Joe Panik, tried to throw to second to keep Tomlinson honest and was called for a balk. Panik then executed a sac fly to center field to score Tomlinson from third and increase the Giants lead to 6-4.
Both Bochy and Holland praised the bullpen for keeping the game close enough to come back. Johnson, Cory Gearrin, Dyson, Tony Watson and Hunter Strickland combined for 5-2/3 scoreless innings giving up just four hits.
“It’s huge what they did today. … Those guys picked me up big time and that’s what it’s all about. We came together as a team right there and we got a team win, not only our offense but also the rest of the pitching.”
The Dodgers threatened in the eighth with a pair of singles off Watson, including one from Corey Seager off the bench, who was said to be suffering from a sore hip-flexor, but it never came to anything and Strickland (S, 6, 1.64 ERA) came on in the ninth to nab another save, his sixth in seven chances.
The Giants and Dodgers will play a split doubleheader Saturday to make up for an April 6 rainout. The first game is scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m. then the stadium will clear out to prepare for game two to begin at 7:05 p.m. The Dodgers have announced they will call up right-handed rookie Walker Buehler to go up against Chris Stratton (2-1, 2.32) in the day game, while Johnny Cueto (2-0, 0.35) will go toe-to-toe with lefty Alex Wood (0-2, 3.72 ERA) in the evening.
Of the status of his bullpen for Saturday’s doubleheader Bochy said:
“All of them are available, sure we would’ve liked to have seven or eight innings [today] and go in with all of them fresh, but we just had a day off so they can pitch tomorrow and we’ll manage our way through this.”
Derek Law has also come up from Triple-A Sacramento to be the Giants 26th man for the double-dip.
The Giants placed left-handed reliever Josh Osich on the 10-day disabled list Friday. Outfielder Austin Slater was called up from triple-A Sacramento to take his place on the roster. Osich has given up 17 hits in 10 innings with nine strikeouts and five walks, and owns an ERA of 8.10. Slater is batting .358 for the River Cats in 2018 with eight doubles and two triples in 14 games. … Stratton became a father on Wednesday when his wife Martha Kate gave birth to a baby girl, Mary Bennet Stratton. … The Dodgers have now lost four games in a row after losing three games to the Miami Marlins in Los Angeles before coming to San Francisco to open this series. …Mac Williamson, who has taken a few days off for some neck stiffness since colliding with a wall in an attempt to catch a foul ball in the Giants bullpen area on Tuesday is expected to be in the lineup Saturday. … Hunter Pence appeared in his first rehab game with Triple-A Sacramento, going 0-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch. … Matt Kemp came out of Friday’s game in the fourth inning with left quad tightness.