Late-game heroics? Again? Yes and no.
The San Francisco Giants erased a multi-run deficit for the second night in a row, thanks to clutch hitting from Mike Yastrzemski (2-for-4, 2 BB, 1 RBI) and Donovan Solano (4-for-5, 2 RBI), but an impressive late rally for the second night in a row was undone by a disastrous 10th inning from the Padres to sink the Giants Thursday night, 12-7.
This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at Oracle Park.
Kevin Gausman made his first start for the Giants. Acquired this offseason, Gausman pitched four innings in relief in Los Angeles. The veteran righty is expected to carve out a sizable role for the Giants this season. He opposed Padres righty Dinelson Lamet.
Prior to Thursday’s game, the Giants activated first baseman Brandon Belt and third baseman Evan Longoria, two middle-of-the-order hitters they have been missing. The Giants offense looked to continue their offensive success from Wednesday night’s walk-off winner.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler said he is excited to have Belt back for two reasons:
“Our excitement about Brandon getting back in the lineup tonight is two-fold, one, it’s nice to have somebody in the middle of our lineup in the four-hole who can walk and do damage. No. 2, it’s nice to have somebody at first base who can play great defense.”
The common theme amongst Giants starting pitching this homestand has been a quick first inning. Gausman worked through the Padres top of the order on 12 pitches.
With two outs in the bottom of the first, Solano lined a double off the right-field wall. He continues to swing a hot bat after his game-tying three-run home run Wednesday night. Belt came to the plate for his first at-bat of the season, striking out to end the inning.
Gausman cruised through the first two frames. Six up, six down.
Longoria dropped a single down the right-field line to lead off the bottom of the second. Pablo Sandoval followed with a walk, runners at first and second with nobody out. Three weak pop-flies later and the Giants scoring threat ended without a run.
Gausman surrendered his first hit of the game, a double to Ty France. Two batters later, France scored on a wild pitch. 1-0 Padres in the third.
Yastrzemski led off the bottom of the third with a single. Alex Dickerson followed with a walk. First and second with nobody out for the second inning in a row.
Three-straight strikeouts of Solano and Belt and Longoria ended the inning. Five runners left on base through three innings for the Giants.
Gausman ran into trouble once again in the fourth. A leadoff triple from Trent Grisham set the Padres up with another run 90 feet away with nobody out. Manny Machado followed with an infield hit.
Tommy Pham extended the Padres lead to 2-0 with a base hit to right field, scoring Grisham. The fourth-straight hit, a base hit to right by Jurickson Profar drove in the third run. Profar stole second, giving the Padres runners at second and third with nobody out.
Three straight Padres strikeouts and Gausman escaped what could have been a disastrous inning.
Gausman departed in the top of the fifth after surrendering a one-out base hit to Fernando Tatis Jr.
His final line: 4-1/3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 8 Ks.
Eight strikeouts through four-and-one-third innings is evidence that his pitches were working tonight, he just struggled with command and location. All things considered, his outing could have been worse if he had not escaped that fourth inning jam.
Yastrzemski led off the bottom of the fifth with a walk. Two batters later, Solano roped a one-out single to left field. Belt followed with a double, loading the bases with one out.
After the game Belt talked about how he felt at the plate tonight, and how he’s been preparing for his 2020 debut while injured:
“After the first at bat, I felt like I was seeing the ball pretty well. [Lamet] was a little tough, just because his slider did so many different things, and it was tough to gauge it and get a good pass off at it. I thought I was seeing the ball pretty well, I’d like for the timing to be a little bit better. I’ve tried to stay as active as possible, you get out there, and face B.P. and you do your normal routine. Unfortunately we weren’t able to face live-pitching hardly at all. That’s the best thing you can do in order to get your timing.”
Longoria came to the plate and hit a line drive into right-center field, where the center fielder Grisham made an unbelievable diving catch to save multiple runs. Yastrzemski scored on the sac-fly, the Giants only run of the inning.
Caleb Baragar replaced Gausman in the fifth inning. He ran into trouble in the top of the sixth, surrendering a leadoff double to Pham, who came around to score on a Profar two-run home run.
Wil Myers continued the rally with a double of his own, still nobody out. Baragar escaped allowing just the two runs. Giants now trailed 5-1 in the sixth inning.
Sam Coonrod took over in the seventh inning. Tatis walked and stole second to lead off the inning. He came around to score on a double from Grisham, who advanced to third on a steal two batters later. Coonrod escaped, only allowing the one run.
Yastrezmski led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk, followed by a base hit from Dickerson. Solano came through with a double down the left field line, scoring Yastrzemski. Belt followed with his second walk of the game, and the bases were loaded.
Longoria struck out for out number one. Wilmer Flores pinch-hit for Sandoval, driving in a run on a sac-fly. Pinch-hitting for Brandon Crawford, Austin Slater came through with an RBI single to left. The Giants cut the Padres lead to 6-4 after seven innings.
Six outs remain as the Giants looked to pull off another late-game comeback against the Padres.
Steven Duggar, who was recently called up from the Giants alternate site in Sacramento, led off the bottom of the eighth inning with an infield single. Who else, but Mike Yastrzemski? The Giants slugger roped a triple into the right-center field gap, scoring Duggar. The tying run was now 90 feet away with nobody out.
Dickerson went down swinging for the first out. Solano, the hero in the eighth inning, came through once again in the eighth inning. A sac-fly to right scored Yastrzemski, and tied the game at six.
For the time being, the Giants have completed their second-straight game with a comeback of four runs or more. “Never say die” appears to be the mantra for this team.
After the game, Kapler discussed his team’s impressive comeback for the second night in a row:
“I’m really actually proud of our ability to come back, having done that two nights in a row, with Yastrzemski leading the charge and Solano swinging the bat very well. It certainly speaks to the grit and the tenacity of the team, and their willingness to keep fighting all the way to the end. Proud of that component of this game.”
Tyler Rogers came in for the ninth inning after earning his first win of the season the night prior. Back-to-back strikeouts, and a fly-out, and Rogers (L, 1-2, 20.25 ERA) cruised through the ninth inning.
Bottom of the ninth, could they walk it off for a second-consecutive night?
Flores dropped a base hit into right field to lead off the inning. Hunter Pence pinch-ran. Mauricio Dubon replaced Slater, flying out to right field on the second pitch. Catcher Tyler Heineman flew out to center for the second out. No ninth-inning walk-off Thursday night. Duggar struck out to end the inning.
A new rule added to the 2020 season, extra innings begin with a runner on second base. Grisham made the last out, so he took second for the Padres in the tenth inning. Rogers came back out for a second inning of work.
Machado led off the inning with a walk, putting runners at first and second with no outs. Pham broke the tie with a base-hit to center, scoring Grisham. The new rule hurts the Giants, giving the Padres a 7-6 lead.
The wheels fell off for Rogers and the Giants. A hit-by-pitch and two singles plated four more runs for San Diego. The score was 10-6 with nobody out in the inning.
Kapler talked postgame about his decision to pitch Rogers in the 10th inning, instead of his Trevor Gott, who has taken over the closer role:
“We had thought about [Trevor Gott] in a scenario where we needed a strikeout or potentially a second-and-third situation with two outs and needed a swing and a miss rather than a ground ball. So [Tyler Rogers] is always our best option when we need a double-play ball, or when we he feel like he’s a good option to get an out with nobody on. There are scenarios where we like Gott in a strikeout situation, or even in a fly ball situation, any time we have a runner at third base with less than two outs. Gott is more of a fly-ball guy, Rog is more of a ground-ball guy.”
A sacrifice bunt from Austin Hedges, which the Giants were unable to record an out on, scored the eleventh run. One more for good measure? The Padres scored their twelfth run on a base hit up the middle.
Down by six runs in the bottom of the tenth inning, the Giants needed a miracle.
The Giants began their half inning with Duggar on second. Yastrzemski grounded out to first as did Dickerson, scoring Duggar. They picked up one run, which Solano followed with a double to left-center. Pinch-hitter Darin Ruf struck out to end the game.
Taylor Wirth is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @WirthTM on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.