For the Giants this season, offense will be so scarce that they can ill afford to waste offensive barrages — and yes, by San Francisco standards, 3 runs and two homers is considered a barrage.
Holding a one-run lead over the Dodgers (5-2) in the game’s final innings Wednesday, the Giants (2-5) needed to win the bullpen matchup. Instead, Reyes Moronta (L, 0-1, 6.75 ERA) allowed a two-run double with two outs in the seventh inning to David Freese off the right field wall, the go-ahead hit in a 5-3 Dodgers win.
Rather than clinching a pivotal early-season win for San Francisco, which would have claimed a road series win over the defending NL champions, the Giants head home dropping five of seven to open the season against NL West rivals in the Padres and Dodgers.
Manager Bruce Bochy said the rough start hurts, especially considering the last two losses came by a run each:
“You take the first game here, you’re so close to winning another one. Last two games could’ve gone either way. That would’ve made it a decent trip. [It’s] disappointing.”
But it was Moronta’s mislocated fastball that Freese squared up, making the difference in a tight game. In lieu of offensive weapons, the Giants will need to come out victorious in close contests, and more often than not, it will depend on the bullpen.
“One run game, anything can happen. We have a good bullpen. That’s going to have to be our strength, holding onto those games.”
Four of the Giants’ five losses have been by 2 runs or fewer, which starter Derek Holland was keen to point out:
The thing is, we’ve been in every game, whether we’ve been hitting or not or pitching bad, we’ve been in every single game. So there’s a lot of upside, a lot of positives that we can take away from this entire road trip.
Freese’s hit wasted a fourth inning full of pop for the Giants, who are not going to be a power-hitting team this season by any means. Entering Wednesday they managed three home runs in their first six games — already 14 fewer than the Dodgers.
But Steven Duggar and Brandon Belt both crushed homers in the fourth to turn a two-run deficit into a 3-2 lead. Duggar (1) led off the inning with a no-doubter to right. After a one-out single by Evan Longoria, Belt (2) followed with a shot to right of his own.
Besides the fourth inning, though, the Giants’ offense was nowhere to be found, with just one other hit in the game. They could only watch as the Dodgers tacked on an insurance run in the eighth off the usually reliable Tony Watson on Chris Taylor’s RBI triple.
“We had that nice inning, but really besides that, we didn’t do much offensively.”
Holland calmed down after a rough first inning when he allowed a leadoff homer to Kiké Hernández and an RBI single to Cody Bellinger. He retired nine of the next 10 batters he faced after Bellinger’s hit.
Despite a 2-5 start, Holland believes the team is trending in the right direction:
“It’s not the way we wanted to start. The way we continue to progress as games go by, we’re starting to swing the bats, we’re hitting the ball … It’s going to come around. They have the right approach. It’s just a matter of things clicking all together all at once.”
The Giants have a day off before opening at Oracle Park on Friday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays.
With Pillar starting in center, Duggar shifted over to right. … Buster Posey had a day off behind the plate with Erik Kratz getting the start. … With the homer, Belt recorded a hit in all three games this series. … Brandon Crawford has hit safely in five consecutive games.