Home sweet home — right? Home openers are always special for many reasons, but this year the San Francisco Giants welcome baseball back to Oracle Park in unceremonious fashion.
Splitting a four-game series in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, the Giants escaped southern California with a 2-2 record. Back north, the Giants hosted the red-hot Padres Tuesday night, and were unable to overcome a pair of early San Diego home runs, falling 5-3 in game one of their six-game homestand.
Yes, Jeff Samardzija will finally pitch for the Giants. Most, including myself, anticipated him starting the second game of the season. The Giants held off on throwing their second-best starter, saving him for the home opener.
Samardzija (L, 0-1, 11.25 ERA) retired the side on 10 pitches in the first inning of Tuesday’s game.
Mike Yastrzemski led off the Giants half of the first with a base hit to right-center off Padres starter Zach Davies (W, 1-0, 3.60 ERA). Two batters later, Yastrzemski scored from second on a ground-ball single under the glove of Manny Machado at third base, which was then bobbled by the left fielder Tommy Pham. The Giants pulled out to a 1-0 lead.
Samardzija recorded another 1-2-3 inning in the top of the second, followed by a quiet bottom of the second inning for the Giants.
Myers led off the top of the third inning with a base hit to right field, followed by a walk to Francisco Mejía. With one out and two runners on, Tatis Jr. homered just above the right-field wall, giving the Padres a 3-1 lead.
Tatis’ home run was impressive because it carried out to right field, something right-handed hitters do not do often at Oracle Park. This season the Giants have closed off the archways in right field where fans usually spectate on the other side of the wall. More home run balls may carry out to right field because of the walls blocking that thick McCovey Cove sea breeze.
The Giants went quietly once again in the bottom of the third before Padres sluggers added on in the top of the fourth.
With one out in the inning, Eric Hosmer singled to center. Two batters later, Myers crushed a two-run homer to center, extending the Padres lead to 5-1 in the fourth.
Wilmer Flores led off the Giants half of the fourth with a base hit to center, before being doubled-up at first on a line-drive double-play off the bat of Alex Dickerson. Another quiet 1-2-3 inning for the Giants.
Conner Menez took over in the fifth inning. Samardzija’s night was finished. His final line: 4 IP, 4H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.
Following Tuesday’s loss, Giants manager Gabe Kapler discussed Samardzija’s 2020 debut:
“I thought he came out and did a nice job to get the game going. He attacked the zone and was really efficient. Then I just don’t think he was able to maintain a rhythm throughout the game.”
Fast-forward to the bottom of the sixth inning, same score. Mauricio Dubón doubled down the left-field line to lead off the inning. Yastrzemski followed with a double to left field that drop[ed in front of Pham, giving the Giants runners at second and third with nobody out.
Pablo Sandoval was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Flores, who grounded in to a fielders choice out, scoring Dubon. With one out and runners at first and third, Hunter Pence popped out to the catcher for the second out.
Rookie catcher Tyler Heineman came through with two outs, singling to center, scoring Yastrzemski. After six innings, the Giants trailed 5-3.
Replacing Buster Posey is quite the daunting task for a rookie like Heineman. He has done very well so far, collecting five hits in five games for the Giants. Kapler had this to say about his young catcher after the game:
“It’s actually been an interesting all-around performance. We’ve seen him [perform] just like he did in our modified camp. He’s been impressive on the bases, he’s shown bunt a couple of times, he’s worked counts and he’s put the barrel on the ball. In the batters box, and all-around, he’s been a nice offensive weapon for us. I think that’s why we moved him up in the lineup, to see if he was able to continue it. I think he has [also] done a nice job of calling games, and blocking the baseball.”
Donovan Solano singled as the lone Giant to reach base in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Menez pitched three perfect innings behind Samardzija Tuesday night, striking out three. Sam Coonrod took the mound in the top of the eighth inning, with the Giants still trailing 5-3.
Coonrod surrendered a leadoff single to Ty France, followed by catchers-interference called on Heineman, allowing Trent Grisham to reach base. With two outs, Coonrod hit Pham with a pitch, loading the bases before retiring Hosmer to end the inning.
Still down by two, Yastrzemski led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a walk, followed by a Sandoval strikeout. Flores grounded into a double play, ending the Giants chances in the eighth.
Dany Jimenez pitched the ninth inning for the Giants. A clean 1-2-3 inning sent this game to the bottom of the ninth, three outs left for the Giants.
Former Giant Drew Pomeranz was on for the save for the Padres. Both Hunter Pence and Heineman struck out to begin the ninth. Darin Ruf was called on to pinch-hit as the last hope for the Giants and followed the previous two Giants with a strikeout of his own.
- Oracle Park in 2020 is weird…
- Over the weekend, a Covid-19 outbreak circulated through the Miami Marlins organization, infecting eight players and five coaches. The team they were playing, the Philadelphia Phillies, as well as the team they will play, the Baltimore Orioles, and the team the Phillies were going to play, the New York Yankees, have had their next few games postponed.
This was a big wakeup call for Major League Baseball, as the season hung in the balance. The season will continue on for now, but it certainly was an eye-opening experience for the league, and every major sporting league.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Gabe Kapler addressed how the Giants will adjust to the added severity of adhering to all guidelines:
“I think we’ve done a really nice job of following health and safety protocols, but there’s no question that this adds kind of an additional layer of sensitivity and gives us an opportunity to keep talking about it.”
You may have noticed while watching that players aren’t always following these strict guidelines. There have been many high-fives, fist-bumps, etc. caught on camera throughout the leagues opening weekend.
Kapler was honest about the habits his team, as well as others, have had trouble breaking:
“We know that every once in a while emotion is going to take over and you’re going to see people bump knuckles, and when that happens we ask that our players immediately move to a hand sanitizing station and take that precaution. We haven’t been perfect by any stretch, but we’re going to continue to work to get better and this — what happened in Miami — gives us a good opportunity to continue to talk about it and continue to tighten up our protocols.”
- The Giants made a move before Tuesday’s game, selecting the contract of another rookie catcher, Chadwick Tromp. Veteran catcher Rob Brantly was DFA’d as the corresponding move. Tromp had an impressive summer camp performance. After Tuesday’s game, Kapler talked about the three catchers, and how Heineman and Tromp will split time moving forward.
“I think the first complement is Tromp being a right-handed hitter, relative to [Rob Brantly]. I think we’re going to want to see Heineman as much as possible in the lineup, we need a left-handed bat, particularly because of some of the struggles we’ve had against right-handed pitching. We’re going to want him in there. Tromp is nice, and we’re going to see him against lefties, and obviously we’re going to try and get Tromp a start in this series.”
- Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Giants debuted a new video in support of Black Lives Matter.