ORACLE PARK — For the first time under manager Bruce Bochy, the San Francisco Giants went with an opener. Instead of having a starter go five innings and handing things over to the bullpen, Nick Vincent took the mound against the Toronto Blue Jays in the analytics inspired move.
It made sense on paper: San Francisco is being outscored 42-5 in first innings this season over the first 40 games. It didn’t go as planned.
The result? Toronto Blue Jays rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a bomb off Vincent to straight-away center and the Blue Jays opened with three runs in the first inning in their 7-3 win over the Giants.
“I mean, it didn’t work out tonight,” Bochy said. “Nick made a couple of mistakes … It didn’t work out quite liked we had hoped.”
Vincent last took the mound as an opener for the Seattle Mariners last August, allowing one hit with a walk and a strikeout in a pair of innings in a 3-2 loss to the Houston Astros.
On Tuesday, Vincent opened over previously-announced Tyler Beede, and had an opening to forget, pitching just the first inning and allowing Toronto’s three opening runs on four hits, highlighted by Guerrero’s first career homer, a 113.7-mph screamer that traveled an estimated 451 feet.
“When you leave balls over the plate, you’re going to get hit,” Vincent said. “Today just didn’t work out for us … I missed pitches over the plate. Usually I’m not, but when I do, I know I’m not going to have a good day, no matter if it’s in the seventh inning or the first. You miss pitches over the plate they’re going to get hit.”
Guerrero stole the show Tuesday night as he also hit his second home run in the sixth inning, a three-run rocket to left-center to extend Toronto’s lead to 7-2. That ball left the bat at 111.3 mph and traveled 438 feet. The highly-touted son of Hall of Famer Vlad Guerrero Sr. entered the game hitting just .191 with a lone RBI and two doubles in 47 at-bats.
“This kid, he’s going to be a great player,” Bochy said of Guerrero Jr. “I know he’s gotten off to a slow start, but you saw the bat speed, the ball comes off his bat, so you better make pitches to him … I’ve seen his dad hit balls like that. So, he had a great day.”
Beede took over in the second inning and, kept the Giants in the game for just over two frames until he couldn’t escape a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, which brought in Trevor Gott.
While Vincent had a tough, short night, Beede held his own, for the most part. He went 2 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits with five strikeouts. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second inning and struck out the side in order in the third. However, he couldn’t escape a second in the fourth, and was taken off the mound after allowing a one-out, bases-loaded walk to Justin Smoak.
“You’ve got to continue to just trust what you’re doing out there and just keep learning from each opportunity that we have,” Beede said.“[The opener strategy] didn’t work today, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work the next time.”
With Drew Pomeranz expected back in the rotation for Friday’s series opener at Arizona, the Giants could give the opener experiment another shot to help ease Pomeranz back into the rotation.
“It’s not a big enough sample for somebody to say that it doesn’t work,” Bochy said. “So, at times we’ll do it again, but we’re not going to let one time dictate that.”
As for Wednesday, 24-year-old Shaun Anderson is expected to make his Major League debut on the mound in the finale of the short, two-game series against the Jays, weather permitting.
Anderson is the Giants’ No. 4 prospect, as rated by MLB Pipeline. He was 2-1 in seven starts at Triple-A Sacramento this season, logging a 4.11 ERA with 37 strikeouts in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, while allowing a .257 batting average against him.