Even with a five-run first inning in which they forced Baltimore Orioles starter Andrew Cashner to throw 46 pitches, and even with a career night from Mike Yastrzemski against the organization that drafted him, the San Francisco Giants were forced to deal with the truth on Friday night against a Baltimore Orioles team with no means of competing this year: the current core has seen its time come and go.
The marathon first inning in which the Giants knocked around Cashner, a former San Diego Padre who has held his own against the likes of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees but had difficulty with San Francisco’s struggling lineup, was reason for brief optimism, but when Drew Pomeranz took the mound for the visitors in their first trip to Camden Yards in over a decade, those hopes were quickly dashed.
Pomeranz didn’t have any help from his defense, with two errors in the inning allowing the Orioles to pick up extra bases, but all six runs the hosts scored in the frame were earned, highlighted by a grand slam from Dwight Smith Jr., an under-the-radar pickup who has not only held his own playing left field for Baltimore (18-39), the worst team in the Majors, but has outperformed any and all Giants outfielders in the process.
San Francisco (22-34) would knot the game up in the top of the second on Yastrzemski’s first career homer, undoubtedly the feel-good story of the night as he came up big against the only organization he knew until he was traded to the Giants on March 22 in an unheralded move, but the feelings once again wouldn’t last for long.
Pomeranz recorded just one out in the second inning, with Trey Mancini’s two-run homer putting the hosts up 8-6 and ending the southpaw’s night with an ERA of 8.08 on the season. With the visitors unable to score again against Cashner or any of the three Oriole relievers, Pomeranz fell to 1-6.
If Pomeranz’s spot in the rotation in the rotation is indeed in jeopardy, Dereck Rodriguez, who turned in 4 2/3 scoreless innings in long relief while inducing soft contact, would be the obvious candidate to take his spot. As good as Rodriguez was, and as encouraging as the outing was for his long-term prospects, the offense couldn’t do anything to help his cause. The Giants got just two hits after the second inning, with one on a bunt single from Steven Duggar and the other with two outs in the ninth on a hit from Brandon Belt before Richard Bleier got Pablo Sandoval to pop out to complete the five-out save. While the San Francisco offense struggled, the home bats tacked on an insurance run, with former Oakland Athletics prospect Renato Nunez walloping his 14th home run of the year on the second pitch Sam Dyson threw in the bottom of the seventh, the third and final Baltimore homer of the night.