DETROIT — Chris Stratton was called up from Triple A Sacramento on July 1. His wife Mary Kate and son Mack joined him on the flight to Pittsburgh to join the team.
So unexpected was his start on Thursday in Detroit — Stratton’s first as a major leaguer — his family had already headed back home by the time he got word scheduled starter Johnny Cueto could be scratched.
At 12:34 p.m. — before a 1:05 start — pitching coach Dave Raghetti made it official, informing Stratton he would be taking the mound.
When asked if that’s how he envisioned his MLB debut, Stratton said, “Definitely not.”
Early in the Giants’ 6-2 loss, Stratton looked like a pitcher unfamiliar with throwing at the highest level against a Detroit Tigers lineup loaded with veterans.
Justin Upton drew a walk in the first, stole second as Stratton lagged getting the ball to the plate and then scored on a Miguel Cabrera single.
In the next frame, Nick Castellanos drove a leadoff triple to the left-center gap and was plated by a Alex Presley basehit. When Dixon Machado turned on an inside 90 mph fastball for a two-run homer, the Giants’ day went from bad to worse.
“I’m sure the pitch he’d like to have back would be to the young kid who hit the home run,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s a fastball hitter and he threw that in his wheelhouse and it did some damage there or else it’s a closer ballgame.”
San Francisco scratched back some runs in the sixth, when Joe Panik ripped a triple into the gap in the spacious Comerica Park outfield. The second baseman was cashed in on a Hunter Pence ground out, tightening the score, 5-2.
To his credit, Stratton settled in after those rocky opening three innings. He faced one over the minimum until the seventh, when he was pulled after walking Alex Avila with two outs. If Stratton is going to stick as more than a spot starter, he’ll have to tighten up his command: He allowed five walks over the 106 pitches he threw.
“I was a little gassed there at the end,” he admitted. “Getting loose earlier [with the relievers] and then going back out and doing that probably had something to do with it.”
The bigger issue for the Giants was the strikeout. Of their 27 outs, 13 of them came on the third strike.
Anibal Sanchez — who hadn’t won since August 23, 2016 — finished six innings with eight strikeouts. After being demoted to the minors earlier this season, the 10-year veteran has logged three-straight quality starts.
“[Sanchez] has been tough on the Giants and he threw well today,” Bochy said.
Despite scratching their best pitcher on the active roster shortly before the game, the Giants didn’t seem overly concerned with Cueto’s long-term prospects. Bochy said he could be in line for a start before the All-Star Break next week if the righty can shake the “crud” that he’s been dealing with over the last few days.
Cueto felt dizzy as he went through his pregame routine and didn’t think it would be smart to take that uncertainty to the mound.
“We’re going to re-evaluate [Cueto today], see where we’re at,” Bochy said. “See where he may fit in.”