In a Groundhog Day-like performance from the Giants (21-30), Andy Suárez (L, 0-2, 9.00 ERA) struggled amost immediately. His second outing since being called up from Triple-A and he left a lost cause after 4 innings having allowed nine runs (seven earned) on nine hits and three walks.
The Diamondbacks would add on one more against the bullpen but it hardly mattered, San Francisco offense was comatose facing Taylor Clarke (W, 1-1, 2.93 ERA) and the Diamondbacks (27-25) routed them 10-4.
For the second day in a row, the Giants found themselves down a run within the first 60 seconds of the ballgame. For the second day in a row, the Giants got boat raced.
Manager Bruce Bochy didn’t try to sugar-coat the way his roster has played its last 18 innings:
“The starting pitcher sets the tone and it’s been two rough starts. I know it looks bad and it’s hard to put a positive spin on–it’s bad baseball–there’s no getting around it.”
Arizona came into San Francisco on a five-game skid before opening the weekend series with the Giants Friday. But they’ve taken advantage of what has turned into a pretty hapless team by the Bay to recover, scoring 10 runs against the Giants Saturday, adding up to a total run differential negative-22 for the Giants over the last two games.
Ketel Marte slapped the second pitch of the ballgame for a sharp line drive to right field, good for three bags. Ildemaro Vargas next hit a grounder under Pablo Sandoval‘s glove at third for an error. Vargas was safe, Marte scored, and the déjà vu from the 18-2 Giants loss of the night before began.
There was a play for the highlight reel Saturday, though, that offered some relief from the heavy weight of failure. Suárez threw a wild pitch to move Vargas over and allowed a one-out Adam Jones single to bring Kevin Cron to the plate. In his second-career big league at-bat, Cron got to see the epitome of a big league play.
He knocked a 92-mph fastball Suárez left over the middle of the plate out to triples alley, but Kevin Pillar showed San Francisco fans why Blue Jays fans have been calling him Superman for years. As he dove to intercept it, his body horizontal, all he was missing was the cape when, with his arm fully extended, he grasped the ball in his glove. It had a 71 percent hit-probability according to Statcast.
Not only that, but Pillar had the wherewithal to spring to his feet and fire a rocket to second base. Joe Panik fed the ball straight to Brandon Belt at first, and he caught Jones off the bag, likely not expecting the spectacular catch, for a double play. It was Pillar’s second outfield assist of the season and the Giants lead all of baseball in outfield assists with 12.
Suárez said he thought Pillar didn’t have a chance off the bat:
“Then I saw him keep running, and when he laid out and caught it I was pumped for sure.”
The play was a morale booster and it got the team off the field but it was one of the very few bright spots Saturday for San Francisco.
The Giants scratched a run across in the second, when they loaded the bases for, of all people, Suárez. The pitcher mustered a single for the first RBI of his big league career.
Suárez allowed a three spot, including a Marte solo shot (11) in the third, and one more in the fourth to make it 6-1.
Suárez said he’s still trying to figure out how to put everything together. He said the difference between his last start and Saturday’s was that he struggled with leaving too many pitches up and allowing high pitch counts:
“There’s times that I feel good and there’s time that my mechanics are out of place, but I’m just going to keep working on it and hopefully next start can be better.”
He clarified that he doesn’t feel like his mechanics were off Saturday, though. He said:
“I just think I was rushing a little bit today [and] not staying back as much and that’s why my stuff wasn’t as sharp.”
He was hooked in the fifth after allowing a run on two doubles and a walk to lead off, and he bequeathed Sam Dyson two runners with no outs. Dyson didn’t have much better luck. He gave up a double to the first batter he saw, Tim Locastro, and the two inherited runners from Suárez scored on a Belt error, making it 10-1.
Pillar’s Superman catch was bookended with the return of Dereck Rodríguez as the only other morale booster Saturday.
Crooked score aside, the Giants got the opportunity to see whether he had successfully righted the ship during a brief stopover in Sacramento. He was called up Saturday after right-handed reliever Trevor Gott was placed on the 10-day IL for a strained right forearm.
In eight starts in 2019, Rodríguez lasted past the fifth inning just once and was rocking an ERA over five so the Giants demoted him to Triple-A two Saturdays ago.
But he came in to relieve Dyson in the sixth against the Diamondbacks and pitched two perfect innings. His, in fact, were the only innings without a hit or run allowed.
Rodríguez said he felt confident and that he’s back to his old self. He actually said it was confidence, not mechanics, that was out of whack in the first place:
“I went down there worked on a couple things that I needed to work on and, you know, they thought I was ready to come back up and you know, here I am…It was more just confidence, it’s more mental. I felt good today, I felt really good.”
The Giants managed to show some signs of life when they loaded the bases in the seventh and Bochy said that’s the only reason he didn’t leave D-Rod in:
“Those were solid innings there. He gave us what we needed. We needed some help there. We had the the bases loaded [in the seventh inning] and we were still fighting, we’re trying to get in it, that’s why I hit for him or else he probably could have finished [the game]. He kinda settled things down and brought some sanity to this game after last night and it kept us from overusing somebody.”
Mike Yastrzemski reached for the first time in his big league career when Clarke plunked him to lead off the inning. He said it wasn’t exactly how he hoped to get onbase for the first time, but he was happy to help the team in any way possible.
Asked when it would seem real to him that he’d made it to the bigs, he said:
“Probably just getting in bed tonight and getting a second to take a deep breath and really look back and realize what happened. That’s probably when it’ll hit me a little harder.”
That would be it for Giants bats.
Friday Bochy said he doesn’t need to give a veteran crew like his any speech or pep talk and he stood by that assertion Saturday. He said they know they need to do better:
“We we hit every facet today. We made mistakes defensively along with a lot of mistakes on the mound. And, you know, we did show a little life late offensively but early in the game there wasn’t a lot going on. This team got fired and most of those are mistakes.”
Shaun Anderson (0-0, 3.60 ERA) will try to be the stopper Sunday as the Giants seek to avoid the sweep against righty Luke Weaver (3-3, 3.14 ERA) and the Diamondbacks at Oracle Park. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.
The Giants designated Mac Williamson for assignment Saturday after an 0-21 skid. If Williamson clears waivers he has the option to go back to Sacramento or elect free agency. In his place the Giants called up Yastrzemski who Bochy said is expected to mostly platoon in left field with Tyler Austin, though he can play all three outfield positions.