After a mighty April, the Giants were bashed by the Nationals to begin May, with Alex Cobb struggling to escape the first inning as the Nationals toasted San Francisco 11-5 in the series finale Sunday afternoon at Oracle Park.
The Giants were outplayed by the last-place Nationals on both sides of the ball, with Washington starter Josiah Gray (W, 3-2, 3.12 ERA) keeping the Giants hitless until the fifth inning.
The Giants couldn’t put runs on the board until the seventh, when they put together two singles, a walk and an opposite-field RBI single from center fielder Luis Gonzalez. Right fielder Darin Ruf followed with an RBI walk before a fielders choice from DH Wilmer Flores made it 8-3.
Mike Ford, acquired Saturday by the Giants from Seattle, debuted in the orange and black at first base, hitting fifth. After hitting .317 in 11 games for Triple-A Tacoma, Ford went 1-for-4 with a bases-loaded, two-run single in the seventh to make it 8-5.
Sunday was far from splendid for starter Cobb (L, 1-1, 5.40 ERA). Fresh off a brief injured-list stint, the veteran failed labored through 40 pitches and recorded only two outs before being relieved.
Two straight hitters reached on singles, before Nelson Cruz – a lifetime .407 hitter against Cobb – bounced one under third baseman Jason Vosler’s glove to score a run. The play was originally scored as a single, but the official scorer later ruled the play an error. What would have been an inning-ending double play instead heralded Cobb’s demise.
On his outing, Cobb said:
I analyze it based off of quality pitches. There were a lot of poor pitchers that I threw that inning. It seemed to be a combination of bad luck, really bad pitches and just not executing that one pitch you need to get out of the inning. There was plenty of opportunities just to make one pitch and not let that unravel the way it did.”
Vosler’s error ended up as San Francisco’s ninth error in eight games, unusual for a club among the best defensive teams of 2021. So far in 2022, when the Giants commit zero errors, they thrive with an 8-3 record.
After Yadiel Hernandez’s two-run single extended Washington’s lead to 3-0, Cobb walked two straight to load up the bases before balking home the runner from third. Visibly frustrated, Cobb yielded an infield single to Lucius Fox to allow another run. After Cobb walked his third hitter, Kapler brought in left-hander Sam Long, who struck out Juan Soto with the bases juiced.
Cobb’s final line: two-thirds of an inning pitched, four hits allowed, three walks issued and zero strikeouts. In bizarre fashion, all five first inning Washington runs were unearned because of Vosler’s error.
From a physical standpoint, Cobb said he felt fine but was fatigued halfway through the 40-pitch first inning.
Manager Gabe Kapler said Cobb deserved better:
He came out with really good stuff, started by filling out the strikes right off the bat. We also have to catch the ball and convert ground balls into outs. We weren’t able to do that as as much as we needed to today to protect both Cobb and other pitchers. So that’s no secret.”
The Nationals tacked on two more runs against Yunior Marte in the sixth. After Fox led off with a single, Soto followed up with a one-bagger of his own to advance Fox to third. Marte then unleashed a wild pitch that skipped a few feet away from catcher Joey Bart.
Fox – known for his speed – scored on a close play at the plate. On the play, Soto advanced to third because Marte’s attention wandered. Cruz was next with a sacrifice fly that made it 7-0, punishing the San Francisco mental mistake even more. Washington tacked on one more run in the seventh when Victor Robles cracked an RBI single.
Hernandez added on a three-run double into right-center field in the eighth off Jake McGee, clinching a five-RBI, three-hit afternoon to give Washington an 11-5 lead. McGee’s ERA climbed to 5.87.
San Francisco left fielder Jason Krizan finally notched the first San Francisco hit of the game in the fifth, a line-drive single to right for his first big-league hit. At 32 years old, Krizan was called up to the big stage for the first time on Friday after 1,132 total games at the minor league level across 11 seasons. With his family in the stands, the Oracle Park crowd rewarded him a standing ovation.
Krizan called his first big-league hit “special”:
Josiah [Gray] was pitching great, but up until that point I happened to get a fastball I can get barrel to and luckily it found a hole. I guess the best moment was everything afterwards. The crowd was awesome. It was just a special moment.”
After getting to first base, first base coach Antoan Richardson told Krizan to look around at the crowd and appreciate the moment that has been in the works for quite some time now. Oddly enough, Krizan was using Joc Pederson’s bat, which happens to be identical in size to his. As he entered back into the dugout after the hit, Krizan embraced Pederson and thanked him for playing “a small role” in the moment.
The Giants embark on a much needed offday on Monday before heading to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers for the first time this season in a two-game set Tuesday. It is the teams’ first matchup since the Giants in five games in last year’s National League Division Series. First pitch is 7:10 p.m.
Mike Yastrzemski is back in San Francisco well as he recovers from Covid-19 after initially quarantining in Washington D.C. … Evan Longoria (hand) and Tommy La Stella (achilles) are set to begin minor league rehab assignments this upcoming week. … Andy Brown, a diehard baseball fan from the United Kingdom, has a unique talent. In 2019, Brown visited and painted all 30 big league ballparks live. What he thought was just an enjoyable hobby became a way of life, and Brown considers himself a nomad, always on the move for a baseball stadium to paint next. He guesses he has visited `120 stadiums across 12 countries. Brown has been in San Francisco for a few weeks, and attended two games at Oracle Park between the Giants and Nationals, along with an appearance at an A’s game across the bridge.