Giants shut down by Freeland, swatted by Rockies

Derek Holland kept San Francisco in the game holding the dangerous Rockies to four runs over six innings. And the Giants offense started off strong with a home run and a single in the first inning Friday night at AT&T Park.

But San Francisco (22-24) scattered four more hits over the next eight innings and failed to ever string anything together, ultimately falling to the Rockies (25-20), 6-1, for the second night in a row, and adding a third game to their losing streak.

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

Gorkys Hernández entered into game two against Colorado hitting 5-for-10 against Colorado starter Kyle Freeland (W, 4-4, 3.17 ERA), including two walks and three RBIs — all from 2016 matchups. With an 18-mph wind blowing out to center field, the 30-year-old Venezuelan came in with the intent of continuing last year’s trend.

Overall, Hernández went 1-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. But “‘Ownage’ is still ‘ownage,’” as Kruk and Kuip like to say, and Hernández exercised his “ownage” leading off the first inning with a 433-foot rocket (2) that landed a couple dozen rows up above the Bank of America sign in left-center field to give the Giants an early 1-0 lead.

Manager Bruce Bochy said:

“I mean, it started out great. With the home run you’re feeling pretty good about how its gonna go, [but] their guy settled down and kept us off-balance.”

Despite pitch count-heavy first and third innings, Holland (L, 2-4, 4.94 ERA) remained steady, giving up just two hits and no runs through the first three innings. But he ran into trouble in the fourth.

Base-on-balls have been a point of frustration for “Dutch” this season. He’s allowed 20 walks, striking out just 42, in eight starts. He has acknowledge in the past that specifically lead-off walks have a tendency to come back to haunt.

He allowed only one walk Friday, but it was of the lead-off variety in the fourth inning. In this case it could be forgiven because the guy taking first base, Nolan Arenado, was one known for pulling the wings off of orange and black butterflies at AT&T Park. It was the hard-hit single by Trevor Story and the 2-1 sinker that Ian Desmond parked in the left-center field bleachers just left of Hernández’s homer to give the Rockies a 3-1 lead, that hurt.

Holland was hard on himself in light of the walk. So hard, in fact, that he seemed to recall having allowed two walks in the inning, though it was just the one. The sentiment was the same, though:

“The main thing is, I just wanna keep those guys off-balance and obviously get the first-pitch strikes. That’s a big deal. It hurt me with those two walks that inning — every time we’ve had a lead-off walk like that it’s come back and bit us. That was an example of it right there.”

Other than the troubling fourth inning, both Holland and Bochy felt he had an overall good showing Friday. Holland said:

“We kept us in the game that was a big thing. I thought me and “Hundo” [Nick Hundley] were definitely on the same page. We did a good job of mixing in and out, up and down. I made a mistake, and you cant do those kind of things at this level, and Desmond capitalized on two of ’em, so you gotta tip your hat to him, give him credit. … I did everything I could to stay in the game. I told Boch after the fifth, ‘Please let me get out there for the sixth. I know my pitch count’s up there, but please let me get out there.’”

Holland evidently made a strong case for staying in the game because Bochy put him back out to pitch the sixth with a pitch count already at 99.

The skipper said:

“I thought Holland gave us a good effort. We needed some work out of him with the usage of the bullpen, and he gave us a chance. I’m sure he’d like to have a couple pitches back, but still we just couldn’t get much going.”

The fourth was the only truly problematic sequence of the game for Holland. But Giants hitters not named Hernández couldn’t seem to make heads or tails of Freeland, unless you count a single from Buster Posey and a single to right that Holland himself earned. There was also a rally to nowhere, compliments of singles by Evan Longoria and Brandon Crawford, in the sixth that was squelched when Rockies reliever Bryan Shaw came in and struck out pinch-hitter Brandon Belt on seven straight cutters none of which came in under 95 miles per hour.

Of the dampened offense, Bochy said:

“You’re gonna run into a well-pitched game [from time to time] — I mean, last night we did, but we found a way to tie the game. We just had some guys that aren’t quite locked in right now and its tough when you get a little streak where guys aren’t quite swinging like they normally do.”

Before the strikeout, Belt fouled one of those cutters off of his knee, though it’s unclear if it was the same sore knee that kept the big lefty out of the starting lineup Friday and he did stay in the game for the remaining two innings in left field.

The Rockies continued to add insult to injury in later innings adding on with a Desmond RBI ground-rule double in the sixth off of Holland and a two-run Charlie Blackmon homer over Levi’s Landing off of reliever José Váldez in the top of the ninth to make a final of 6-1.

Up Next

The Giants will play game three of four against the Rockies Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at AT&T Park. Pitching probables are right-handers Chris Stratton (4-3, 4.88 ERA) and Jon Gray (4-5, 4.85 ERA).

Notes

Flags at AT&T Park were flown at half-staff during Friday’s game and they will remain lowered through May 22 in honor of the victims of a school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas in which 10 people, including staff and students, were killed. Several others were injured. … According to manager Bruce Bochy, Brandon Belt was contacted by Major League Baseball’s chief baseball officer Joe Torre Thursday in the wake of several balls and strikes calls in recent games that have come under scrutiny. Belt was out of the starting lineup Friday with a swollen knee, which he sustained a few days ago sliding into second base. With his pinch-hitting plate appearance, Belt’s home-run streak was broken at four. …  Mac Williamson (concussion) began a rehab assignment Friday in Salt Lake City with Triple-A Sacramento and Bochy gave a rough estimate of seven to 10 days for his return. … Joe Panik (left thumb), who took dry swings and ground balls at second base Thursday, progressed to taking batting practice in the cage Friday and is tentatively expected to begin rehab after the team leaves Colorado at the end of May.


Julie Parker is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @insidethepark3er on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.