By Doug Bruzzone
Special to S.F. Examiner
ORACLE PARK — Around 9 p.m. on Saturday night, one of the wheels on Bruce Bochy’s car came off as he was crossing the Bay Bridge. He called AAA, got the tire taken care of and made his way home.
On Sunday afternoon, the wheels came off again.
After embarrassing themselves in the first two games of their series against the Arizona Diamondbacks this weekend, the Giants finished the trilogy in appropriate fashion, losing 6-2 in another sloppy, uncompetitive game.
“That’s the worst series of the year,” Bochy said after the game. “I can’t remember when we had three consecutive games with that kind of baseball we just played. Starters had a hard time getting the ball where they wanted. [Starter Shaun] Anderson was up today early … Along with the hits, the mistakes he made, now you throw in bad defense, and that’s a recipe for what happened today. It’s three games. We just played our worst ball.”
Anderson had an up and down day. In five innings, he allowed nine hits, six runs (four earned), struck out one and walked one. Most of the damage came in the first two innings, and while he was able to settle down after that, the Giants were already in a hole they wouldn’t climb out of.
“[The Diamondbacks are] a really aggressive team,” Anderson said. “I made some bad pitches early and they got to them.”
San Francisco, continuing a season-long trend, put itself in an early hole, giving up two runs in the top of the first inning. Those two runs brought the team’s total to 53 runs allowed in 52 first innings on the year, a number that’s far, far higher than any team can live with.
This time, Ketel Marte started the scoring with a one-out solo homer, a booming, 436-foot shot into the arcade at the deepest part of the park. Eduardo Escobar followed with a single.
And then the errors started.
Anderson threw a wild pitch that bounced away from Buster Posey. Posey, seeing Escobar advancing, threw to second, but his throw sailed into center field and Escobar got all the way to third, which allowed him to score on Adam Jones’s sacrifice fly.
The second inning was the true defensive disaster, though. After Nick Ahmed led off with a single, he took second on a wild pitch that bounced so high, he was easily able to advance to third. One out and one walk to Carson Kelly later, pitcher Luke Weaver laid down a sacrifice bunt that Anderson fielded and threw to first for the out. Anderson, though, gave Ahmed just a cursory check at third base, so Ahmed took off for home before the ball was out of Anderson’s hand, and scored easily.
“I fielded it and I checked him,” Anderson said. “He seemed pretty close. I was talking to Buster about it, and apparently once I turned my head, he took off. That’s something I probably should have checked him longer.”
Later in the inning, with another run in on a Jarrod Dyson single, came the coup de grace. Marte singled into right field, and when Dyson tried to advance from first to third, right fielder Kevin Pillar unsuccessfully tried to throw him out at third. Third baseman Evan Longoria, seeing Marte advancing to second on the throw, tried to throw him out, and the ball flew into right field, allowing Dyson to score from first and Marte to get all the way to third on a single.
It was an ugly play that encapsulated the entire weekend of baseball at Oracle Park: It started out bad, got worse, and then turned into a disaster.
“No question,” Bochy said when asked if the poor defense was a surprise. “That’s what’s been there all year. Just little things. Yeah, we throw a ball away, but we’ve got to back it up. We were slow there. Letting guys take extra bases … It surprised me, the shaky defense that we showed in this series.”
While the Giants offense was, once again, unable to get the team back in the game in the face of an early deficit, there were individual contributors who came through. Joe Panik and Buster Posey each had two hits, with Panik scoring a run, and Brandon Belt was on base twice, but the biggest game came from rookie Mike Yastrzemski.
Playing in his second Major League game, the grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski recorded his first big league hit in the second inning, a pop up in no man’s land in front of left fielder Blake Swihart. But, in typical 2019 Giants fashion, there was no success without it being countered by an immediate mistake. Yastrzemski, thinking the ball was an out, put his head down and hustled around first, but he had drifted too far from the base, and was thrown out trying to make it back.
“It’s not really how you draw it up in your mind before it happens,” said Yastrzemski, who spent seven years in the minor leagues, “but you take them any way they come. Never complain about a hit.”
Yastrzemski hit a clean single to left in his next at bat in the fifth inning, and wisely stopped at first. He later doubled and scored a run in the seventh.
Reliever Sam Coonrod made his major league debut on Sunday, throwing a 1-2-3 eighth inning, which he finished with a strikeout of pinch hitter Kevin Cron.
“I really don’t know how to put it into words, but it feels good to be here,” said Coonrod, who came back from Tommy John surgery after losing most of 2018. He attributed some of his success to being able to pitch on his first day in the majors, saying, “Whenever you’re thrown in there instead of having to dwell on it for a while, it seems like it would be easier.”
San Francisco threatened in the bottom of the ninth, getting two runners on with one out, but Arizona closer Greg Holland worked out of the jam by inducing a pop out from Panik and a long fly out from Steven Duggar to end the game.
The Giants, now having mercifully finished a 1-6 homestand, head on the road for nine games. They’re hopeful they’ll be able to come out stronger when they start a new series.
“We got a fresh series coming up,” Anderson said. “We’re going to Miami. Let’s just start a new series and put the Diamondbacks series behind us and start with the first inning against Miami.”