Home sweet home. The San Francisco Giants made their return to Oracle Park following a 10-game road trip where they lost seven of those ten games.
A dominant start from Johnny Cueto (ND, 1-0, 4.62 ERA) and key offensive performances from Evan Longoria (2-for-5, HR, 3 RBIs), Wilmer Flores (4-for-5), and Hunter Pence (1-for-4, HR, 3 RBIs), propelled the Giants to a sizeable lead heading into the ninth inning, when disaster struck.
Cueto took to the mound for the Giants against the cross-town rival Oakland Athletics, who earlier in the day scratched starting pitcher Frankie Montas with back tightness. Rookie lefty Jesus Luzardo (ND, 1-0, 4.79 ERA) started in his place.
A quick first inning for Cueto, retiring the A’s first three batters on seven pitches.
With two outs in the bottom of the first, Longoria gave the Giants an early 1-0 lead on a solo home run over the wall in left field, his second of the season.
Donovan Solano led off the bottom of the third inning with a base hit. Two batters later, Flores singled to left field. Pence followed with a three-run home run, his second three-run homer in three games. Giants extended their lead to 4-0.
Meanwhile, Cueto cruised through the first four innings, allowing just one hit and a walk and no runs.
Both Chadwick Tromp and Mauricio Dubon singled to begin the bottom of the fourth. Two batters later, Solano walked with one out, loading the bases for Longoria.
A big night for Longoria, who brought in two more runs with a base hit to left, scoring both Tromp and Dubon. Giants tagged the A’s rookie for six runs, ending his night after 3-2/3 innings.
Cueto continued to roll, completing six innings for the first time this season. Maintaining a 6-0 lead with 86 pitches, Cueto was due back out for the seventh.
The A’s scored their first run in the top of the seventh on a Robbie Grossman triple that scored Mark Canha from first base. With one out, Khris Davis grounded out, scoring Grossman, and cutting the Giants lead to 6-2.
Cueto escaped the seventh, and his night was over. His final line: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 104 pitches.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler discussed Cueto’s performance:
“He’s definitely one of the more interesting pitchers to watch that i’ve been around. His delivery, his ability to change tempo, his ability just off the plate, and then on the plate where he needs to be. I think he had some of his best velocity that we’ve seen today, some 93’s and some 94’s. He never really ran out of gas. He was prepared for when i went out and asked him how he was doing, to continue on in that inning, and i respect him for telling the truth and continuing to want the ball. That was a really nice performance by Johnny overall.”
Tony Watson took over for Cueto in the eighth inning, retiring the A’s in order.
The Giants weren’t finished. Mike Yastrzemski added on with a solo home run of his own, extending the Giants lead to 7-2 heading into the top of the ninth.
Trevor Gott came on for the ninth inning. Matt Olson homered with one out, cutting the Giants lead to 7-3. A walk to Canha was followed by a bizarre error by Flores at first, as he botched an easy game-ending double play ground ball. With one out, the A’s had runners at first and second.
Davis was hit by a pitch, loading the bases, which brought the tying run to the plate. And well, the worst-case scenario happened.
Stephen Piscotty hit a game-tying grand slam. The A’s scored five times in the ninth inning, and tied the game at 7-7.
After the game, Flores discussed his costly fielding error.
“It was an indecision. That was on me. I put Crawford in an awkward situation and i didn’t know if i stepped on the base or not. I thought i was closer to the base…I should have stepped on first base, with that lead we had.”
Tyler Rogers replaced Gott, immediately surrendering a single to Sean Murphy and a double to Marcus Semien. The A’s now had runners at second and third with one out.
Chad Pinder went down on strikes for the second out. Rogers came through, striking out the A’s best hitter, Matt Chapman to end the threat. Lots and lots of damage was done, and the game should have been over if it weren’t for a bad error from Flores at first.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Flores singled to left. Pence walked to put runners on first and second for pinch-hitter Brandon Crawford. A fielders-choice ground ball moved Flores over to third with two outs.
Pablo Sandoval grounded out to end the ninth inning. The A’s began the top of the 10th inning with a runner on second.
Jarlin Garcia (L, 0-1, 0.00 ERA) took over for the Giants in the 10th. A ground ball from Olson moved the extra-inning runner, Chapman, over to third with one out. A sacrifice fly from Canha scored Chapman, giving the A’s an 8-7 lead.
Down by one run, Austin Slater began the inning at second base for the Giants. Both pinch Hitter Brandon Belt and Dubon went down swinging, and looking, for outs one and two.
Yastrzemski watched strike three, and the Giants night ended with three-straight strikeouts.
Final: A’s 8, Giants 7, 10 innings
Kapler discussed how the team will process, and move on from Friday night’s tough loss:
“The first thing is, the processing happens tonight. The after-action review or the re-watching the game in your mind happens tonight, then we talk about it and figure out ways to get better for tomorrow. There were things that we could have done differently, and we’ll look at it as a ‘how can we raise the bar for ourselves?” perspective.”
- The hot-hitting Austin Slater was not in the lineup Friday due to a right flexor strain. Gabe Kapler was optimistic that he will be able to DH in a day or two and explained why Slater’s flexor strain is less severe than that of a pitcher.
“A flexor strain for a position player is less daunting, perhaps, than for a pitcher, because outfielders can monitor how often and how hard they throw, they may have one or two throws an entire game. I think there are ways to allow flexors to come around for outfielders that you just couldn’t do for pitchers.”
- Throughout Friday nights game, food service workers at Oracle Park held a demonstration outside the ballpark.