Photo credit: @Padres
By Lewis Rubman
San Diego: 5 | 8 | 0
San Francisco: 3 | 8 | 0
SAN FRANCISCO — The 65-67 Giants opened a four-game series at Oracle Park hoping to inch back to the .500 mark against the lackluster Padres.
San Diego sent rookie Chris Paddack, arguably their best starter, to the mound. Paddack’s traditional statistics, 7-7, 3.84 ERA were mediocre enough, but so was his team’s won and lost record of 61-71, which put them in fourth place in the five team NL West Division. And Paddack has some eye-catching advanced statistics. Going into the game, he could boast of a WHIP of 1.03 and had struck out 121 batters in 117 1/3 innings, while walking only 27, all the while holding opposing batters to a measly on OPS of .668. The tall righty throws the traditional pitchers’ repertoire of fast ball, curve ball, and change of pace, the first and last more frequently than the curve. He hadn’t much of a chance to display his talents in his previous start, a disaster in which he surrendered six runs to the Red Sox in 2 1/3 innings. He sure showed them tonight.
Giants starter, Dereck Rodríguez, toed the rubber, dragging a record of 5-6, 5.26 ERA behind him but still, I assume, hoping to regain the form that had made him so exciting in his rookie 2018 season. D-Rod’s pitching in the opening frame gave the Giants’ rookie second baseman, Mauricio Dubón, making his major league debut, a chance to strut his defensive stuff as the two combined to turn a nifty 1-4-3 double play on Manny Machado to close out the inning. In the Pads’ next turn at bat, Dubón was even more impressive, robbing Wil Myers of a single with a diving grab of the San Diego right fielder’s shot behind second base and a bullet-like throw to first. Mike Yaztremski then stole a single from Luis Urías with another diving catch, this one of a sinking liner to short right.
Rodríguez’s stretch of being saved by brilliant fielding came to an end in the top of the third. With one out, Paddack sent a slow hopper to short that he would have beaten out even if Brandon Crawford could have handled it cleanly, which he didn’t. Then Manuel Margot launched a 2-0 four seamer into the left center field bleachers, and the Giants were looking up at a two-run San Diego lead. Doubles by Josh Naylor and Eric Hosmer to left and right center, respectively stretched the deficit to three.
Yaztremski came close to committing larceny a second time when he dove for Urías’s falling fly just in front of the 309 foot sign and just inside the right field foul line. The result was Urías’s first career triple and the prelude to Austin Hedges’ home run to left, his 10th of the season, upping the Padres’ lead to 5-0.
The worm finally turned a tiny bit against Paddack in the home fourth. After Yaztremski led off by striking out, making it 10 consecutive Giants that Paddack had dispatched since he threw his first pitch of the game, Brandon Belt blasted a change up into McCovey Cove, and the Giants were on the board. That’s only a figure of speech; the main scoreboard showed lots of pictures but no in- game statistics until a Wil Myers thumb nail made a cameo appearance in the top of the ninth.
Dubón laced his first hit in the bottom of the fifth, a one-out single to right that sent Kevin Pillar from first to third. But Rodríguez struck out and Yaztremski flew out to left, leaving the Padres still ahead 5-1 after five innings of play. Those five innings were enough for Rodríguez, who was removed and replaced by Jandel Gustave at the start of the sixth. Rodríguez had thrown 72 pitches (49 strikes). All five of the runs allowed were earned, and they came on eight hits. He struck out three batters and yielded no walks, a slight consolation. Gustave followed him with two innings of perfect relief before giving way to the veteran Fernando Abad for the eighth. He, too, hurled a perfect frame.
After pitching seven outstanding innings, in which he threw 92 pitches (67 strikes) and surrendered only one run (earned) on five hits and no walks while striking out eight, Paddack was replaced by lefty Matt Strahm.
Strahm’s work was not outstanding, but it was serviceable. He gave up singles to pinch hitters Donovan and Joey Richard and a walk to Belt to load thee bases with nobody out. Bu then he induced Evan Longoria to hit into a run scoring 5-4-3 double play and got Alex Dickerson out on a fly ball to Manuel Margot in left center.
Sam Coonrod retired the Friars on two called strike outs interspersed by a hit batter, Myers, who promptly was thrown out stealing.
It was left to Andrés Muñoz to defend San Diego’s 5-2 lead in the ninth. He struck Posey out on a full count. Then he K’d Pilar. Crawford walked on a 3-2, 99 mph four-seamer and advanced to second on a wild pitch with Stephen Vogt, pinch-hitting for Coonrod, at-bat. Vogt brought Crawford home on a double to right, closing the scoring gap to 5-3. But Donovan grounded out to short to end the game. Muñoz broke 100 mph several times in his inning of relief.
Paddack got the well-deserved win and Muñoz, the exciting save. The loss went to Rodríguez. None of the Giants’ relievers allowed a run.
At 65-68, San Francisco is seven games behind in the race to be the second wild card team. Their elimination number is 23.
The probable starters for Friday night’s contest will be right-hander Dinelson Lamet (2-2, 4.30 ERA) for San Diego with left-hander Madison Bumgarner (8-8, 3.71 ERA) going for the home team.