Photo credit: @SFGiants
By Lewis Rubman
San Diego: 3 | 7 | 1
San Francisco: 8 | 13 | 0
SAN FRANCISCO — Last night, the Giants were helpless against the Padres’ Chris Paddock, and they fell short in their comeback attempts against relievers Matt Strahm and the fireballing Andrés Muñoz. They looked to do better in tonight’s fray against the Padres. They were, after all, facing Dinelson Lamet instead of Paddock as their opponents’ starting pitcher, and that was a hopeful sign, but nowhere near a guarantee of success. Even though Lamet was only 2-2, 4.30 since his July 4 return from Tommy John surgery, the Giants had reason to be wary of the big right-hander from the Dominican. Before his injury, Lamet had shown promise with only a fast ball and slider in his repertoire. As fangraph’s Ben Clemons reports, since then Lamet has broadened the range of his sliders, throwing both hard and tight ones, so that, for practical purposes, he’s now a three pitch, or perhaps a two and two-half pitch, pitcher.
What put the Giants in a better position as far is pitching is concerned than they had been in yesterday was that they were not starting with the struggling Dereck Rodríguez on the mound. Rather, it was their ace, Madison Bumgarner, at 8-8, 3.71 ERA, toeing the rubber for the home team. Not vintage numbers for Mad Bum, but this year’s version isn’t a vintage Giants team.
The new quality of Lamet’s slider was was irrelevant to the first two batters he faced. Milke Yaztremski slammed a 95 mph four seam fastball down the first base foul line past Eric Hosmer, and Hunter Renfroe slipped trying to retrieve the ball. Yaztremski ended up on third with a little league triple, AKA a major league three-base error, charged to Hosmer. Two pitches later, Brandon Belt sent Lamet’s 96 mph four seamer into the right field stands for his 16th round-tripper of the year.
Lamet wisely used his curve to get Evan Lorriga to swing and miss on a 3-2 count for the first Giant out. The inning ended with San Francisco ahead 2-0 after Alex Dickerson popped out to third and Manuel Margot made a fine grab of Brandon Crawford’s sinking liner to left center, but not before the Giants had threatened again with Buster Posey’s single to center and Kevin Pillar reaching base when he was hit by a pitch.
Lamet settled down after that, and, in the top of the fourth, it was the Padres’s turn to use the long ball. Manny Machado drove a 3-2 cutter into the left center field bleachers to cut the Giants’ lead in half. It was his 28th home run and 75th RBI. Renfroe folowed with a solid single to left center, and the Giants’ slim margin suddenly seemed insecure. But now it was Bumgarner’s turn to settle down, which he did by coaxing a 6-4-3 double play out of Hosner and getting Ty France to ground out to third on a nice play by Longoria.
The Padres’ fifth also ended with a noteworthy piece of defensive work by the Giants. After Urías flew out to right, a patient Austin Hedges worked the count full and walked. Lamet attempted a sacrifice bunt on Bumgarner’s first offering, but he popped it up, Belt caught it, and threw to Dubón, covering first, to complete the double play before Austin could scamper back to first.
After this important failure at the plate, the Padres’ starter faltered on the mound. Yaztremski took his first pitch, a 96 mph two seam fast ball, yard. His blast landed in the left field bleachers, his 18th dinger in his 81st game. San Francisco’s two-run lead was re-established.
That ended Lamet’s labors for the night. His line was three runs, two earned, on three hits in five innings. He struck out 10 and walked two. 63 of his 95 pitchers were strikes. All in all, it was a pretty decent outing, especially when you consider his early difficulties. His replacement, Michael Baez, also experienced some early trouble, some of it not of his own doing, some that was. Posey’s infield single was an example of the former; Crawford’s one-out double off the center field fence, which sent Posey to third, of the latter. But Baez escaped when Posey was thrown out at home trying to score on Dubón’s weak grounder to second and whiffed with a mighty swing at a 2-2 97 mph four-seamer.
That one inning was enough for Baez. Out he went, and in came Robbie Erlin, and there went SanDiego’s chance to stay in the game. Yaztremski singled to left center. Belt, ditto, Yaz to second. Longoria, ditto, Yaztremski scoring, Belt to second. Joe Rickhard pinch hit for Dickerson and singled to center, driving in Belt and sending Longoria to second. Posey singled to right, loading the bases. Pillar’s sac fly to left plated Longoria. Crawford and Dubón ground out second. That added three runs to the Giants’ score, and they led, 7-2.
With a lead like this, Bochy could afford to relieve Bumgarner, who leaves with a line of one run, which, was earned, on four hits and two walks in seven innings. He struck out nine. He got the win, putting his record at 9-8, 3.62. Lamet would be saddled with the walk.
MadBum was replaced by Tony Watson, who gave back one run on a triple that Yaztremski almost caught in right and an RBI ground out by Greg García, who had entered the game in a double switch when Erlin replaced Baez.
But no one replaced Erlin until Oscar Allen pinch hit for him in the top of the ninth. This gave the Giants the chance to score two more runs on doubles by Austin Slater, pinch-hitting for Tony Watson, Belt, and Longoria.
The one San Diego scored off Tyler Rogers, who pitched the ninth, was a footnote.
The Giants’ won-lost record now stands at 66-68. They are seven games out of a play off spot and have an elimination number of 22 with 28 games to go.
In a pair of pre-game moves, the Guants placed catcher Francisco Mejía on the 10-day injured list and recalled Austin Allen from Sacramento to take his place.
Tomorrow’s 6:05 game will pit San Diego’s southpaw Joe Lucchesi (9-7, 4.11 ERA) against the Giants’ righty Logan Webb (1-0, 4.66 ERA) for the west coast orange and black.
One last note: Charge me with an error for having reported in my last dispatch that Mauricio Dubón made his major league debut in last night’s game. It was his first game as a Giant.