By Cyril Penn
Special to S.F. Examiner
ORACLE PARK — As the Los Angeles Dodgers’ lead grew on Tuesday night, Oracle Park began to feel less like the San Francisco Giants’ home and more like a neutral playing field.
Fans checked out early to catch the second half of the Golden State Warriors playoff game, and San Francisco was left hearing chirping Dodger fans, who erupted in glee after Brandon Crawford’s swinging strikeout closed out a 10-3 loss.
Coming off his most productive start of the year and first win as a Giant, starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz was cruising before a three-run David Freese home run skimmed off the Levi’s Landing siding in the fourth.
“I thought that [Steven] Duggar was going to catch it or it was going to hit off the wall,” Pomeranz said. “I mean, I felt like I was feeling pretty good there. And, you know, you make one bad pitch and it costs us three runs … I left that one up a little bit. If I execute a pitch where I’m trying to throw it I don’t think that happens. But you know, (Freese) has some power that way on balls up.”
The left-hander looked sharp at the onset, showing solid action on his two- and four-seam fastballs as he struck out three across the first two innings and retired eight of the first nine batters he faced. After being shaken up in the fourth, Pomeranz was relieved by Trevor Gott.
“We just wanted to give him some coverage there in case it became a long inning,” Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy said of pulling Pomeranz after four.
After Gott’s 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, Ty Blach came in for his first appearance of the season, after being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Monday when Derek Holland was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left index finger bone bruise.
Blach looked like a minor leaguer on the mound, loading the bases for Chris Taylor, who cashed in with a two-run double to right. The very next batter, Austin Barnes, knocked his own two-run double to deep right-center to give the National League’s highest-scoring team a 7-1 advantage.
With Bochy opting to let Blach pitch through his mistakes, Kiké Hernandez took advantage with a two-run homer over the left field wall. Blach gave up six runs on four hits and two walks in his first inning of the year, as the Giants spotted Los Angeles (20-12) a 9-1 lead.
San Francisco found a sense of urgency at the plate after the Dodgers’ sixth-inning onslaught, scoring two runs courtesy of an RBI double down the left field line from Buster Posey and subsequent sliding triple that Brandon Belt hit deep into Triples Alley.
That momentum faded quickly, as Blach gave up a first-pitch home run to Justin Turner, his first of the year. Blach would end up soaking up 3 1/3 innings of relief, striking out one and giving up seven earned runs on seven hits and three walks, before he was pulled for Travis Bergen.
“He was up here to help out the bullpen,” Bochy said of Blach’s extended outing. “He was the guy that was going to eat up some innings for us to give [other relievers] a break. It’s tough when your long guy goes up and has an inning like that for him to stay out there, but we really needed to stay away from some guys that needed a break. So we had to stay with him there and then he settled down and ended up getting up to the ninth.”
Kevin Pillar notched his team-leading 18th RBI to kick off the scoring in the second inning, knocking a shallow single to center that drove in Brandon Belt and gave San Francisco (12-18) an early 1-0 advantage.
As an early season trade acquisition from Toronto, Pillar has been the Giants’ most potent hitter thus far this year, leading the team in runs, stolen bases, home runs and RBIs. The fact that Pillar is leading the Giants in so many offensive stats despite hitting only .204 throughout the season speaks volumes about the offensive ineptitude of the NL West’s last-place team.
“Doesn’t seem like many things are going our way right now,” said Pomeranz, who took the loss, going four innings and striking out three while allowing three runs on three hits and two walks. “And it seems like a lot of things are going [the Dodgers’] way … I think we’re playing good. We’re pitching good. We’re playing good baseball. We just need to change a little bit so we can start winning some games.”
The Giants are now 5-12 when scoring 3 runs or less and 2-13 when outhit by their opposition.