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Giants bullpen wastes quality outing from ‘D-Rod’

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Friday night in San Francisco, the Giants took on Drew Hutchison, a righty who’s been a Ranger for under three weeks, who’s never had an ERA under 4.60 in his career and seems to have peaked with the Blue Jays sometime in 2015.

And facing Hutchison and the Rangers (58-72), a team that’s last in the American League West — by a lot — the Giants (63-67) lost a game they were one out from claiming and started their homestand off on a false note.

They gave Dereck Rodríguez and their relievers a margin for error, something that hasn’t happened a whole lot this season, but for the latter it wasn’t enough in their 7-6, 10-inning defeat.

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

The Giants offense made it apparent from the get-go that they had a level of energy that’s seemed to be missing in recent weeks as the top of the order led them to offensive success early.

Rodríguez (ND, 6-1, 2.30 ERA), with Batman cleats on for Players Weekend and his father in the house (perhaps to see the matchup between his son and his own former team), was a leader on the field. And while he’s got a very good case for Rookie of the Year, he didn’t look like a rookie on the mound Friday.

When he left in the seventh inning the Giants had a four-run lead, but Reyes ‘El Tibu’ Moronta,  Mark ‘Mel’ Melancon and closer Will ‘Smitty’ Smith (BS, 3, 1.87 ERA) combined to allow four runs to tie it up. And it was Sam Dyson (L, 3-3, 2.8 ERA) who popped the bubble for good in the tenth inning allowing two singles and a walk to load the bases before walking Robinson Chirinos to force home the winning run.

By the bottom of the tenth the Giants offense had lost its spunk and Jose Leclerc (S, 7, 1.85 ERA) came in to seal the extra-innings win for Texas.

Manager Bruce Bochy noted that the game was already lost by then, though:

“[Dyson] just lost his command there, but you know it was lost earlier. There’s so many things you can look at in that game. I mean we got nicked up late with the ‘pen twice [with] two outs [and] nobody on. Sometimes you gotta put a team away. [The Rangers] can score runs, you gotta give ’em credit, they battled back. We had our chances to put it away, we didn’t and that came back to haunt us.”

Before all that, Rodríguez was dominant. He retired Texas on seven pitches in the first inning of a game in which he would take a no-hitter into the fifth. And Andrew ‘Zoom’ McCutchen followed up his smooth opening by leading off the home half of the first with his 10th career leadoff homer (15) and far from a rally-killer, the Giants proceeded to do all the things an offense running on all cylinders does.

They hit all the way through the order drawing 37 pitches from Hutchison (ND, 2-2, 6.52 ERA), which is more than he threw in most of his relief appearances with Philly earlier this year. Joe ‘J.P.’ Panik singled and Hutchison gave back-to-back free passes to Buster Posey and Brandon ‘BOB’ Belt to load the bases with no outs. Evan ‘Longo’ Longoria kept the line moving with an infield single and chased home Panik. And timely sac flies from Brandon ‘DJ BC Raw’ Crawford and Alen ‘Chamaquito’ Hanson topped off the crooked number, giving the Giants a 4-0 lead.

Rodríguez, for one, enjoyed the show:

“It was nice seeing the bats come alive quick in that first inning.”

Rodríguez put up a praiseworthy six innings, tossing four 1-2-3 innings among the six, including striking out the side in the third and recording his second career hit in the fifth. He walked three for a season high, just the third time in 14 appearances.

San Francisco offered ‘D-Rod’ some insurance runs in the fourth, again led by the top of the order. McCutchen and Panik drew walks from the hapless Hutchison who walked four total, Friday. And singles from Posey and Belt tagged him for two more to give the Giants a 6-0 lead.

Texas wouldn’t put Hutchison out of his misery until the fifth when he was replaced by left-hander Jeffrey Springs who, despite allowing a trio of singles, escaped the fifth unscathed.

Rodríguez’s only rough inning came in the fifth when he allowed a trio of singles of his own, and a walk to his father’s old teammate, Adrian Beltre, to get the Rangers on the board, 6-2. But that seemed like that had to be enough wiggle room for the Giants to put a bow on it.

The rookie commented on how exciting it was to play against his dad’s former team:

“I was excited ’cause I knew a couple of the guys over there, the past couple years I’ve spent time with them. When the minor league season ends I usually visit my dad in Texas for a couple weeks and watch some of the Ranger games. It was fun seeing them on this side of the fence.”

At 92 pitches on 10 days rest after coming back from a minor hamstring strain, Rodríguez was pulled, though, and it was up to the bullpen.

But it was death by a thousand cuts, or ‘nicks’ as Bochy put it, once the rookie came out.

Moronta was sent out to pitch the seventh and he allowed just the third home run in 56-2/3 innings to leadoff hitter Joey Gallo (34) on the first pitch he threw, a 92-mph fastball right down the middle. But after a four-pitch walk to follow, Moronta collected himself and shut the inning down.

Melancon, who pitched the eighth, also failed to put up a clean inning. After recording two outs he allowed back-to-back-to-back singles from Nomar Mazara, Jurickson Profar and Gallo to allow the Rangers to inch closer, making it 6-4. But Melancon escaped without further damage and a two-run lead in tact.

Said Bochy:

“They just found a way to nick us there in the seventh and eighth. That’s a tough game to lose. I don’t know if we’ve had a tougher one we’ve had some tough ones but Rodríguez [did a] great job. He had a six run lead there and you gotta hold it, but we didn’t and thats a hard one to take, there’s no getting around it.”

The Giants had a chance to add on in the eighth when Texas reliever  Eddie Butler allowed two walks and a single to stack the bases with one out, but former Giant Cory Gearrin (W, 2-1, 3.62 ERA), stifled the uprising with two strikeouts and the opportunity that could have been the difference in the ballgame was wasted.

Bochy was frustrated by the offense’s inability to take advantage of the situation:

“We just couldn’t put a ball in play. Those things come back to get you.”

Smith came out to pitch the ninth inning, and it seemed like despite everything the Giants had reached a point of inevitability in the game. They were going to win. By all accounts, they were supposed to win this one.

But with two outs Panik booted a grounder from Shin-Soo Choo, to bring up Rougned Odor who took the first pitch from Smith an 80-mph slider that was more or less right down the middle and swatted it into San Francisco Bay (16) to tie it up. This was the second time in D-Rod’s last three starts that Smith has blown a win for him.

Gearrin came back to haunt the Giants a second time when he shut them down in the bottom of the ninth coaxing a Crawford popup and striking out Gorkys ‘Cazador’ Hernández and Steven ‘Dugg’ Duggar to force extra innings and remind the Giants what they gave up.

This set the stage for Dyson’s meltdown that ended in him walking home the winning run.

Said Posey of Dyson’s clamoring to find the strike zone in the tenth inning:

“It’s gonna happen [sometimes] it’s unfortunate that it did, [but] Sam’s been good for us all year. [He] had a couple balls fall in there, that’s a tough one. That’s about as tough of a loss as I can recall. Just getting up early like we did and then the bullpen’s been so solid throughout the year, they’ve really just done an outstanding job and it was tough.”

These lamentations were delivered about 30 seconds before the All Star catcher announced he would under go season-ending arthroscopic hip surgery Monday

Up Next

The Giants will put Andrew Suárez (4-9, 4.68) on the mound to take on Martin Pérez (2-5, 6.93) in game two of this three game series with Texas. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m.

Notes

With stolen bases numbers 12 and 13 Friday, McCutchen has notched the most he’s had since 2014.


Julie Parker is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @InsideThePark3r on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.

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