For all the troubles the San Francisco Giants have had over the past two years, they’ve built themselves a pretty good relief core, and on Saturday, that backbone led them to their first win of 2019, a 3-2 triumph over the San Diego Padres.
Reyes Moronta, in his first outing of the season, struck out five over two innings after the hosts got on the board to answer a three-run Giants rally. Tony Watson escaped a jam in the eighth and Will Smith took care of the ninth to close out the victory.
The Giants (1-2) got their three runs in the top of the sixth, chasing rookie starter Nick Margevicius from his MLB debut and piecing together hits against relievers Robert Stock and Robbie Erlin. Perhaps the prior night’s ninth-inning rally, which came up short, ended up having positive effects on Saturday, as the visitors were able to benefit from a weary Padres bullpen.
After a Steven Duggar single to start the inning ended Margevicius’ night, Yangervis Solarte snuck a grounder past the bag at first and down the right field line to score Duggar, who had advanced to second on a wild pitch. Evan Longoria singled Solarte home, and after Erlin managed to record two outs, a Gerardo Parra walk loaded the bases and Joe Panik singled home the third run, though Hunter Renfroe managed to throw Buster Posey out at the plate to end the frame.
That out looked for a moment like it would change the game, as San Diego (2-1) immediately got two runs back. Dereck Rodriguez, who had shut the hosts down over his first five innings, allowed a Manuel Margot double and Ian Kinsler single, and both those runners would score when Eric Hosmer doubled off rookie reliever Travis Bergen. That brought Moronta to the mound with no outs and the tying run in scoring position, but he handled the heart of the Padre order with ease, striking out Manny Machado, Wil Myers and Renfroe.
That same part of the order had a chance to strike against Watson in the eighth. After Moronta worked around Greg Garcia’s one-out double in the seventh, Watson gave up a one-out single to Hosmer, and Machado reached on an infield hit. Myers grounded into a force out to put men on the corners, and Posey handled Renfroe’s weak tapper in front of the plate to end the inning.
Had the hosts managed to come through with men in scoring position, San Francisco would have regretted wasting a golden opportunity for insurance runs in the top of the inning. Brandon Crawford, who had entered the game in the bottom of the sixth after Longoria left with an undisclosed injury, doubled off Aaron Loup, and Brandon Belt‘s one-out single put men on the corners. Loup struck out pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval, and though a Parra HBP loaded the basss, Panik grounded out to end the threat.
For all the excitement the eighth inning provided, the ninth was much simpler. Nothing came of Solarte’s two-out double in the top of the frame, and Smith retired the side in order in the bottom half for his first save of the year, striking out pinch-hitter Franmil Reyes and Francisco Mejia to wrap things up.
All of that made a winner out of Rodriguez in his first start of the year, allowing the two runs in the sixth while scattering four hits without any walks, striking out just two but generating weak contact early in counts. He would throw just 71 pitches.
While it took them until the sixth inning to strike against a starter who had never even pitched above Single-A, it was a win against a left-handed starter for the Giants, something that’s been incredibly hard to come by over the last few years. Margevicius allowed just three hits and struck out five. Having put up incredibly low walk rates in the minors, he stayed true to form and didn’t issue a base on balls, though he did hit two batters.
Another Padres prospect is slated to debut on the mound in the series finale, with highly-touted rookie Chris Paddack toeing the rubber Sunday afternoon against Giants hurler Jeff Samardzija.