It was one of those days for Dereck Rodríguez facing the Yanks Sunday.
San Francisco’s offense has been broken for the better part of 2019 and nothing was working for the righty against a New York team which has lost as many games as the Giants have won this season.
While Rodríguez threw 81 pitches over three innings allowing six runs, four earned, on seven hits before the skipper put him out of his misery, Yankees right-hander Domingo Germán threw one-hit ball through the first five innings on 60 pitches before allowing a handful of runs in the sixth. But the Yankees (17-11) had plenty of insurance, taking the 11-5 victory for the series sweep.
This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at Oracle Park.
Rodríguez (L, 3-3, 4.35 ERA) threw his first pitch for a ball to 13 of 20 batters he faced in the series finale, and seemed unsteady on his feet from pitch No. 1. He would allow pairs of runs in each of his three innings, and manager Bruce Bochy said he was just off Sunday:
“He was battling a little bit and some of those pitches looked real close, too, it t wasn’t like he was missing by a lot. He had trouble getting the curveball over at times and that’s [usually] a big pitch for him.”
Rodríguez, however, said he didn’t feel off kilter and he felt fine throwing in the bullpen ahead of game time as well:
“Everything felt the same as every other day. I just didn’t have it. That’s the only thing I could say. I just didn’t have it today. And I own it.”
DJ LeMahieu slapped a 74-mph curveball to left for a single to lead off the first, and it got uglier from there. D-Rod walked the next two Yankees to load the bases and bring up Gary Sánchez.
It looked like Rodríguez might have been able to exchange a double play for a single run when Sánchez grounded out to Brandon Crawford, but the Gold Glove shortstop booted it and the fielders choice-error combo scored LeMahieu and everyone was safe.
The next batter gave Rodríguez his double play, and he notched a strikeout to escape the inning on 21 pitches.
If the first was the only inning like that, the Giants (11-17) could have come back, but things continued in similar fashion.
Germán (W, 5-1, 2.56 ERA) shut down San Francisco in order on just nine pitches in the bottom of the first, giving Rodríguez barely enough time to catch his breath before jumping back into the frying pan.
Bochy said Yankees pitching was outstanding this weekend and Germán was simply another example:
“He pounded strikes on three pitches, three quality pitches. He was really locating very well. We saw good pitching in this series.”
Rodríguez allowed another leadoff single followed by a walk, and when Erik Kratz tried to catch Gio Urshela sleeping at second, he threw into center field, setting Luke Voit up for a two-run single.
The Giants have a league-leading 28 defensive runs saved on the season, which is six better than the next competitor–the Dodgers –who will be in town Monday.
Bochy praised the strength of his squad’s overall defense and noted that while Sunday’s flubs were not the difference in the game, they certainly didn’t help San Francisco’s cause:
“We could have cut back some of the damage, but we made a couple of errors. We’ve been playing so well defensively and that cost us a couple runs.”
New York scratched another pair across in the third when Gleyber Torres took advantage of a leadoff Sánchez walk by connecting with a down-and-in fastball for a two-run shot (5) to left-center to make it 6-0.
Rodríguez struggled to get ahead in counts Sunday and expressed frustration at never being able to get the leadoff man out as he tied the shortest outing of his career with just three innings pitched. He said:
“I can tell you, I was the worst player out there today. But the great thing is we get to do this all again tomorrow and I get to go out there in five games and battle it out again.”
Before being hooked after back-to-back hits to open the fourth, Rodríguez managed to muster the Giants first knock, which, given the lethargic state of San Francisco’s offense to that point, seemed a triumph even though he didn’t score. The team wouldn’t touch Germán for another three innings.
Nick Vincent, who took the reins for D-Rod in the fourth, gave up a two-run jack in the sixth off the bat of Brett Gardner (6) that landed on the concourse well over the left field wall.
Down 8-0 in the bottom of the sixth, the Giants finally found a weakness in Germán’s armor. Pinch-hitting for Vincent to lead off, Tyler Austin drew a walk and after a wild pitch and a Joe Panik single, San Francisco got on the board 8-1.
They added on one more when, with two men on, the clutch-hitting Pablo Sandoval stepped to the plate.
Sandoval entered Sunday’s game batting .300 with a .925 OPS, filling in for Evan Longoria on a planned off day. The Kung Fu Panda answered the call with an RBI double off the wall in left-center to add on two more, making it 8-4. It was his eighth two-bagger out of 13 total hits on the season.
The Giants closer Will Smith needed some work after having no closing opportunities since the team was in Toronto, and the Yankees tagged him for three runs when he allowed a walk and three singles in the ninth.
New York’s rookie right-handed reliever Joe Harvey (H, 0-0, 6.75 ERA) got the opportunity to get some work in for Sunday’s more or less in-the-bag game in the ninth. It gave Kevin Pillar an opportunity of his own as he led off with a solo homer (5) to left-center with 106-mph exit velocity, but the game was well out of reach and it was simply a formality by then.
The Giants will dust themselves off after the series sweep as they prepare to face the division-leading Dodgers Monday for the first of three games at Oracle. Jeff Samardzija (2-1, 3.00 ERA) will toe the rubber against Kenta Maeda (3-2, 5.20 ERA) for the 6:45 p.m. start.
Bochy said Steven Duggar remains day-to-day after tripping over the visitor’s bullpen mound going after a foul ball in the first inning of the series-opener with New York Friday and jamming his right wrist in the fall. Radiographs were negative, but Duggar said he had poor range of motion with the wrist after Friday’s matchup and he continues to wear a brace on it. …Right-handed prospect Tyler Beede is turning heads with his performance down on the farm this spring, and Bochy’s is among them:
“He’s throwing the ball very well–it’s hard not to see that. He really opened some eyes there and trust me he’s on the radar with what he’s doing down there. With the stuff he’s throwing with too, he’s not doing it with mirrors I mean, he’s really demonstrating a good command with high velo and a good changeup and breaking ball.”
In 22-2/3 innings with Triple-A this season Beede has posted a 1.99 ERA with 13.5 strikeouts per nine and a 1.059 WHIP. …OF Mac Williamson has also raised eyebrows in Sacramento this spring. Williamson is batting .397 with a 1.075 OPS and according to Bochy, he’s most of the way back to where he was before he sustained a catastrophic concussion tripping over the home dugout mound last spring. Nevertheless, the skipper said as things stand presently, it would require an injury on the big league roster for Williamson to receive a call-up.
Julie Parker is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @InsideThePark3r on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.