After two solid starts against first-place teams thanks to a new arm angle, Drew Pomeranz may have to go back to the drawing board.
Pomeranz had an ERA north of eight in his first 10 starts, but seemed to have solved something with a new arm angle against both the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 1, and again against the Milwaukee Brewers on June 7, but it all fell apart on Wednesday.
Los Angeles teed off on him for three of their four homers and six earned runs in a 9-2 Dodgers win, and the offense — despite seeing Dodgers starter Rich Hill go down — mustered just three hits. It was only the fourth game in 12 between the two rivals to be decided by more than two runs, but that takes little drama away from Thursday’s series finale, which pits Madison Bumgarner against Julio Urias in likely the San Francisco ace’s last start as a Giant against Los Angeles.
Pomeranz — who had allowed just two unearned runs in his last 10 innings — had seemed to find his 2017 form, fanning 12 and walking just four over his last two starts, and utilizing his curve — which he throws over 39% of the time — to great effect out of the new arm slot.
In a disastrous first inning against the Dodgers (50-25), though, he threw almost exclusively fastballs, and got pounded.
First, Justin Turner sent a sharp single off the glove ofEvan Longoria on a four-seamer, then Cody Bellinger ended a six-pitch at-bat by lining another to right. Chris Taylor then sent a 92.3-mph four-seamer to left center for a three-run homer, capping the scoring in a first inning where Pomeranz threw 37 pitches. It was Taylor’s first of two homers on the night, with the second — a 426-foot shot to left center off the curve — ending Pomeranz’s night in the fifth.
Dodgers lefty starter Hill, during his warm-up for the second, felt discomfort in his left forearm and took a seat after throwing just 15 pitches, but San Francisco — with a lineup built to take advantage of a left-hander — was ill-equipped to capitalize. The first run came, ironically, on a Tyler Austin fourth-inning solo shot against right-hander Yimi Garcia.
Manager Bruce Bochy had wanted to get Austin — hitting .246 against lefties versus .147 against righties — more at-bats against right-handers to see if he could be something of an everyday left fielder, and besides that homer, Bochy also got a pair of highlight reel grabs by Austin in left, and an outfield assist, as he threw out Justin Turner at second in the seventh.
The Dodgers, added four more earned runs against Pomeranz, before a Mike Yastrzemski solo homer got them within five, but a two-run homer by Cody Bellinger off of Dereck Rodriguez in the seventh did away with any comback notions.
In order to salvage this series and stay competitive in the season series — San Francisco is 5-7 against Los Angeles — the Giants (31-41) will turn to Bumgarner, likely in his final start against the Dodgers. The two rivals do not face one another again until September — well after the trade deadline, when the Giants are widely expected to deal Bumgarner for a package that includes high-level prospects and perhaps a big league-ready right-handed bat.
Not only will San Francisco get a chance to split the series behind Bumgarner (3.58 ERA over his last nine starts), but the surly lefty will also get another shot at Max Muncy. Bumgarner — who long feuded with the mercurial Yasiel Puig — sparked a tiff with Muncy last week in San Francisco.
Muncy, Farhan Zaidi’s proudest acquisition while the general manager in Los Angeles, hit a first-inning solo home run into McCovey Cove on June 9. Bumgarner’s chiding — “Don’t watch the ball, run,” he allegedly barked — at Muncy’s fairly innocuous home run trot led Muncy to answer back: “If you don’t want me to watch it, go get it out of the ocean.”
Hydrologists and oceanographers be damned, the phrase quickly made it onto a t-shirt, which will likely be worn by many in attendance when Bumgarner faces off against young lefty Julio Urias.
Urias went five shutout innings in his season debut against San Francisco and Pomeranz, allowing just three hits and fanning seven on April 1 in Los Angeles.