Game two of Saturday’s Giants-Dodgers doubleheader held no similarity to the one that came before it.
San Francisco lost a nine-run laugher in the twin bill’s early afternoon game, but the matchup between Johnny Cueto (W, 3-0, 0.84 ERA) and Los Angeles lefty Alex Wood (L, 0-4, 3.72 ERA) resembled a staring contest, and Wood blinked first.
Cueto had a rough first inning and it was initially looking like a re-run, but Cueto found his rhythm in the second, and after quietly smoldering for four innings the Giants offense became like a house on fire. Austin Jackson led an uprising in the fifth giving San Francisco the lead and they never gave it back, taking an 8-3 win over the rival Dodgers.
Chris Taylor started the game shooting an 0-2 changeup down the left field line. The ball ricocheted into the seats adjacent to the Giants bullpen limiting Taylor to a ground-rule double, but it was an inauspicious start. Things only got uglier when Corey Seager came to the plate.
Seager has been suffering from sore hip-flexor, but it hasn’t stopped him from doing damage to the Giants. He went 3-for-6 in the afternoon game, so perhaps it was no surprise when he took an 83-mph slider and sent it over the right field wall for his second home run of the year, giving the Dodgers an early 2-0 lead.
Cueto settled down after the homer though, sending Dodger after Dodger packing, nine in a row to be exact. He had some trouble finding the zone in the fifth but pitched through traffic and got out unscathed.
Manager Bruce Bochy praised Cueto’s performance:
“After that first inning he was right on — hitting his spots and changing speeds and everything. We won the ballgame because he settled down and gave us six solid innings, which we needed.”
Bochy said the first inning woes are to be expected from time to time:
“You see it sometimes with good pitchers, and you’ve seen it with Johnny. You know, they’re getting settled in and he made some mistakes and [Seager] took advantage of it. But [Cueto] regrouped and that’s how good he is. He’s a pro”
Wood had San Francisco’s number Saturday, matching the shimmying Giants righty zero for zero. Wood got through each of the first three innings using only seven throws per frame, and going into the fifth he had only thrown 35 pitches. But the fifth was when the orange and black finally figured the Dodgers southpaw out.
Brandon Belt blooped a single to left and Kelby Tomlinson kept the line moving with a ground ball that looked destined for a double play but somehow found a hole for another single. Brandon Crawford followed with a third single on a grounder to left to load the bases and bring a pressing Jackson to the plate.
Jackson came into the game batting .200 with 26 strikeouts in 65 at-bats, but Saturday night against the Dodgers he went 2-for-3 and came through in the clutch in the fifth, shooting a line-drive two-bagger into the left field corner. Pederson struggled to handle it, and the knock cleared the bases, putting San Francisco on the board and ahead of LA 3-2.
Bochy was glad to see Jackson play the hero:
“It started with [Jackson] with a huge hit there. We got pummeled pretty good the first game and then we get down two [runs]. We needed somebody to come through for us, and look what he did. Good game by him.”
Jackson said he felt relief after coming through for the team:
“You know, it’s just one of those things where you just try to bear down and forget about the other at-bats and just focus on the ball and get a good pitch to hit and do the job.”
Cueto put up his fifth scoreless inning in a row in the top-half of the sixth and the Giants added one more run in the bottom of the inning on a McCutchen walk and another bloop single from Belt to make the score 4-2. After a respectable 98 pitches through six, Cueto came out.
Reyes Moronta came into Saturday’s game with a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings but from the get-go he couldn’t find the strike zone. After loading the bases without recording an out by way of two walks and a single, it looked like Cueto might have yet another should-be ‘W’ snatched from his record. Moronta was pulled for Sam Dyson, though, and Dyson miraculously got the Giants out of the inning with a double play and strikeout, giving up only one run and preserving the lead.
The Giants even added on in the seventh to give the taxed bullpen cushion. Dodgers right-handed reliever Daniel Hudson took the mound to start the seventh and struggled with control immediately. His mishaps seemed an odd echo of Moronta’s ragged sixth inning.
Hudson walked the bases loaded, including a four-pitch base on balls to Buster Posey. Unlike Bochy, Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts opted to leave his unraveling bullpen arm in the game, though, and Longoria was happy to take advantage. The third baseman who received his 2017 Gold Glove award, No. 3 in his career, Saturday, launched an 0-2 fastball to left field for a double, racking up two RBI’s in the process.
Roberts finally pulled Hudson for right-hander JT Chargois, but San Francisco cashed in two more runs on a Tomlinson single to center before the inning finally came to a close making the score 8-3.
Giants rookie D.J. Snelten made his major league debut pitching in the eight and ninth innings. He threw a flawless eighth inning eliciting a ground out from Seager, striking out Yasmani Grandal and coaxing a fly out to left from Cody Bellinger. But after getting Chase Utley to ground out to first he issued Pederson a walk and gave up a single to Alex Verdugo. Taking no chances, Bochy decided to pull the rookie for his closer, Hunter Strickland.
Of his first MLB appearance, Snelten said:
“I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to come up here and, you know, show whatever I have. To be in such rivalry such as [the Dodgers-Giants rivalry], and be able to go out there and compete is a blessing on its own, let alone just to stand in a park like AT&T.”
He said that waning adrenaline contributed to his difficulties in the ninth after such a successful eighth:
“When I went back out there my glasses flew off my face, and I went to put ‘em back on and that’s kind of when it happened ’cause I tried to get myself to breathe again and as that happened my glasses started fogging up. It was just because I was so excited to get out there in the first place and have that opportunity.”
The Giants and Dodgers will play the final game of the four-game series Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. The NL West Rivals will have played 11 games since the season opened in March but the teams will not face each other again until a three game series June 15-17. San Francisco can claim a series victory with a win.
In a blow to yet another one of the Giants core players, Bochy announced Friday that the team is seeking a second opinion from a different physician on the injury to second-baseman Joe Panik‘s left thumb, which he sprained tagging out Yasiel Puig on a play at second in Friday’s game against the Dodgers. According to Bochy the ligament in Panik’s thumb may be torn and they are seeking the opinion to find out whether the treatment should be surgical or rehabilitative. Either way, Panik is likely to be out for months, not weeks.
The skipper said:
“He may need surgery so he’s getting another opinion and we’ll know which way we’ll go with him, but it looks like he’s going to be out a while. There’s something going on with the ligament, I guess theres a tear or something and it needs to be repaired so [the opinion is] what we’re waiting on.”