Bruce Bochy on today’s game pic.twitter.com/NTlq27WBHM
— Ryan Gorcey (@RyanGorcey) September 8, 2019
LOS ANGELES — Manager Bruce Bochy admitted on Sunday that he’d miss games like his Giants’ two one-run wins over the rival Dodgers the previous two nights. But, he said, “I like 10-run leads a lot better.”
Starter Dereck Rodriguez allowed just three hits to the Dodgers, but two were home runs, and he came out the loser as the Giants’ seasonlong offensive swoon continued. Falling short of the sweep, Bochy finishes one game under .500 at the 57-year-old building, but he still finished his career with the most wins there by an opposing manager — 107 — while extending a telling club record.
“The boys bounced back, took the series against a tough team,” Bochy said. “Sure, you’d like to finish it off and get greedy, but we were just quiet.”
For much of the season, Rodriguez had bounced Sacramento and San Francisco, and the starting rotation and the bullpen, going 5-7 in 22 appearances (13 starts) at the big league level with a 5.49 ERA and a .269 opponents’ batting average. It was a far cry from his 2.81 ERA as a rookie last season.
Then, against St. Louis last week, he struck out seven in seven innings, allowing one run on five hits and one walk in a loss, one of three the Giants suffered at the hands of the Cardinals. Rodriguez started Sunday looking just as comfortable, striking out the first three and retiring 11 of the first 12 men he faced.
“He’s coming off a really good start, a tough loss there and St Louis,” Bochy said. “I thought he carried that into today’s game.”
Then, with two outs in the fourth, he walked Cody Bellinger and gave up an 0-1, two-run homer on a mislocated changeup to Matt Beaty.
In the fifth, Russell Martin ripped an 0-2 single off Rodriguez’s leg, and with two outs, Joc Pederson sent a ball to the right side and into the shift. Sure-handed rookie Mauricio Dubon — who started at short but moved to second — flubbed the grounder momentarily, enough for the speedy Pederson to reach first. With two outs, Cory Seager hit a three-run homer to center on another misplaced changeup. One batter later, Rodriguez was pulled. Only two of the five runs he allowed in 4 2/3 innings were earned.
“I feel more frustrated than probably any other outing because you know, I was throwing the ball well,” Rodriguez said.
Last year, he felt like he could throw strikes his eyes closed, but many of those were down the middle. With the book now out on him, he’s had to adjust, but it took some time. Before his last two outings, Rodriguez said he finally shuffled some things in his head, and as a result, has been able to live on the edges, mix up his pitches and throw them all for strikes.
“I think this year I’ve learned more about baseball this year than I have my whole life,” said Rodriguez. “I’ll go into the offseason, with this mentality and knowing what I need to work on for next year.”
As they had all series, the Giants failed to capitalize on the openings Los Angeles handed them. They got two on with one out in the first against left-handed opener Julio Urias — the ninth time this series they’ve had two on with one out or fewer — but, for the seventh time, came up empty. Kenta Maeda came on in the third and retired 10 straight, and 12 of 13, and San Francisco got just two hits over the final eight innings.
“You need the timely hits,” Bochy said. “We thought we did a good job getting runners on in this series, but you need that one more hit that keeps it going, keeps it moving, and we had a tough time doing that.”
With two outs in the seventh, left-hander Wandy Peralta replaced reliever Kyle Barraclough. In doing so, Peralta became the 61st player to see game action for the Giants this season, a franchise record. That figure is the most in the National League, but still two back of the MLB leader Seattle. The all-time record is 64 (2014 Texas Rangers).
It’s no surprise that the number is so high, given that this is the first season under president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. Incremental roster upgrades have been his line since the day he was hired. By adding more option-able players (another of his trademarks), he’s increased roster flexibility, a goal of his headed into the second year of an on-the-fly rebuild.
As Bochy finishes out the string, the Giants will move into phase two of that rebuild, with Shaun Anderson — who flashed on Saturday — along with Rodriguez and Tyler Beede — who spun a nifty outing on Saturday — likely to be centerpieces of a rotation that may or may not include Madison Bumgarner.