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Giants blanked by Rays in series finale

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The newest member of the Giants starting rotation, Drew Pomeranz, struggled with control in Sunday afternoon’s rubber match against the Rays. But even if he’d been perfect, it wouldn’t have mattered because the fiery offense of the day before was nowhere to be found in the 3-0 series-losing shutout.

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San Francisco (3-7) managed just two hits off Chirinos (W, 2-0, 0.75 ERA) through five innings, and two more off reliever Adam Kolarek in the seventh and there was barely a ghost of Saturday’s offense in the home dugout.

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

Despite limiting the Rays (7-3) to just two runs, Pomeranz (L, 0-1, 4.00 ERA) spent time in the stretch in each of the five innings he appeared. 

He allowed a Yandy Díaz dinger (3) on the second pitch of the ballgame to bump the Giants pitching staff’s already hideous first-inning ERA to 8.00. It was Díaz’s second homer of the series.

San Francisco’s offense is just as chilly in the early innings. Saturday they scored for the first time all season before the fourth inning with a two-run spurt in the third, and as a team they are 1-for-31 with a hit-by-pitch and ten strikeouts in first innings and 3-for-33 with two walks and ten strikeouts in second innings.

Manager Bruce Bochy said he may mix things up with the top of the batting order a little bit to try to get the offense going early, but he made it clear that he doesn’t plan to give up on the guys who are struggling.

Bochy also noted that the team really needs the core guys to lead the Giants out of this slump:

“You know we moved the order today a little bit, we put Joe [Panik] at the top and changed it up. With Buster [Posey] off, you saw a different order today, and [we] do try [new] things but you still gotta stay behind these guys. They’ll come out of it. I always say, at the end of the year the numbers should be what they normally are so that’s what you have to be encouraged about.” 

Pomeranz went on to scatter five singles and three walks over his remaining three innings, and was pulled for Trevor Gott after allowing a Daniel Robertson single to lead off the fifth. 

Bochy said despite all the traffic on the basepaths he felt Pomeranz did a good job keeping the Giants in the game:

“He was a little erratic, that’s fair to say–he wasn’t really sharp with his command–but he competed. That game could’ve gotten away from him.”

Bochy said he was hoping Pomeranz could have eaten up a few more innings, but he’s confident that the southpaw’s command and sharpness will improve as the season goes on.

Pomeranz said he was very disappointed with his inability to make it deeper into the ballgame, stressing that such a short outing is not up to his standards:

“That’s not really acceptable to me to go out there and throw four innings. I wanna be deeper into the games and I wanna not have to have the bullpen come in in the fourth or fifth inning or whatever. I think it’s just about making better pitches and just getting ahead of guys more instead of getting a deep count, it seemed like, on every hitter.”

Pomeranz tossed 92 pitches facing 21 batters over just four innings plus the one batter he allowed a single to in the fifth before being hooked, and in his previous outing in San Diego he also faced 21 batters, this time over five innings on 90 pitches.

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He had the worst season of career in 2018 with the World Series Champion Red Sox. He struggled with injuries and in 74 innings he went 2-6 and posted a 6.08 ERA with a 1.770 WHIP, walking 44 in just 26 outings.

Pomeranz came out of the bullpen for 11 of those outings after the Sox sought to find a solution for his struggles in early August. It was a role he hadn’t played since his 2014-15 stint in Oakland and it went no better—he earned a 5.56 ERA in 22-2/3 innings. He was on Boston’s postseason roster but never pitched for them this past October.

The 30-year-old lefty came into Giants spring training 15 pounds heavier with the explanation that the season before he had focused on clean eating, which resulted in the loss of that weight. In returning to his normal, he said he believed it would improve his performance. So far in two starts over a total of nine innings he’s allowed three homers and 12 hits.

Nevertheless, Bochy said he has no doubts about Pomeranz moving forward:

“You have to give him credit for really battling out there with all the traffic and so it’s only gonna get better with him.”

The Giants bullpen was leakproof excepting the eighth inning when offseason acquisition Nick Vincent allowed a triple and a single and then balked in the run.

Vincent made a throw to third base when Longoria was not close enough to the bag, which was enough to violate the rule, and while Bochy was frustrated he believed the balk call was warranted:

“Longo wasn’t expecting that throw, so it’s something we’ll take care of ’cause we have some new guys here and they’re getting used to some of our plays. It was probably the right call because the position player has to be in the vicinity of the base and so it was frustrating. We’re trying to keep it a two-nothing game and it’s obviously a lot easier to score two, so that didn’t help matters.”

The Giants witnessed some more of the experimentation the Rays are known for, along with their use of openers, when Kolarek started the seventh inning after a clean sixth and allowed a single to switch-hitting pinch-hitter Yangervis Solarte. Tampa Bay then played musical-chairs with their infield, moving Kolarek to first base, Díaz from first to third and bringing in right-handed reliever Chaz Roe to face righty Evan Longoria.

The strategy, a modified version of the Waxahachie Swap in which a pitcher is placed in a corner outfield spot for a batter or two, was to set up a righty-righty matchup against Longoria without burning Kolarek so he would remain available for the lefty-lefty matchup with Belt, who would come up after Longoria. The Rays strategy was a resounding success, as both Giants struck out swinging.

Neither Bochy nor Belt was surprised by the tactic. Bochy said he’d considered using it more than a few times when Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez were denizens of his bullpen.

Belt has had all sorts of strategies used against him during his career. He frequently deals with defensive shifts, and over the weekend the Rays used a four-man outfield against him several times:

” I don’t think I’ve seen [the Rays] in particular do it [before], but the way they do things over there I’m not surprised.”

An attempt at a Giants rally sprouted in the ninth when Jose Alvarado (S, 3, 0.00 ERA) allowed a two-out single and a walk. But Brandon Crawford grounded into a double play to end the Giants threat.

Up Next

The Padres come to town Monday for a three-game series at Oracle Park. Madison Bumgarner (0-2, 1.38 ERA) will take the ball against San Diego left-handed ace Eric Lauer (1-1, 3.27 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Probable starters for Tuesday’s game are Derek Holland (0-1, 5.00 ERA and Joey Lucchesi (2-0, 0.00 ERA), and Dereck Rodríguez is scheduled to make his third start in the finale against Nick Margevicius (0-1, 1.80 ERA) Wednesday.


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