Kelby Tomlinson

Series of Giants mistakes allows Dodgers to overcome 'Tommy-ball'

Series of Giants mistakes allows Dodgers to overcome 'Tommy-ball'

SAN FRANCISCO — In three plate appearances against the best pitcher in the world, Kelby Tomlinson had a homer, single and walk. He also made a spectacular play up the middle that ranks as one of his best as a big leaguer. 

“It was a little bit of Tommy-ball tonight,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

Tomlinson was not able to fully enjoy his night. The Giants weren’t able to celebrate him, either. Tomlinson’s game also included one of several defensive mistakes the Giants made behind Johnny Cueto, and they never recovered. Clayton Kershaw got the first 18 outs and Kenley Jansen got the final four as the Dodgers edged the Giants 5-3, ending their 11-game losing streak. 

The Dodgers officially clinched a postseason spot after two weeks of confusion. The Giants officially became the first MLB team to 90 losses. 

Three plays stood out as the Giants fell behind 4-1. Hunter Pence drifted toward a pop-up to shallow right and watched as it dropped behind Joe Panik. That misplay cost Cueto 10 grueling pitches on a night when he felt like his old self. An inning later, Austin Slater whiffed on Kershaw’s liner to left that turned into a double. Tomlinson tried to get Kershaw at third on an ensuing grounder, but his throw was wide. Kershaw would come around to score, and the Dodgers would tack on two more. 

The sequence taught two lessons … 

First of all, the official scorekeeping rules are dumb. Neither ball to the outfield was ruled an error, and despite getting what should have been four outs in the fourth, Cueto was charged with four earned runs. 

The second lesson: “You’re going against one of the elite pitchers in the game,” Bochy said. “With somebody as good as Kershaw, you’ve got to play your best ball, and we didn’t do that.”

The Giants rarely have this season. The 90-loss year is their first since 2008 and it has included so many nights like this one. There was plenty of good, but the bad moments outweighed the highlights. Tomlinson was left shaking his head after what could have been a career night. 

“I really wanted to get that one,” he said of the missed out at third. “I tried to make a play and it didn’t work out. It makes it tough when you look back at the end of the game.”

The Dodgers are in such a tailspin that they didn’t even realize they had clinched a postseason spot until after their postgame handshake line. MLB’s computers did more work during the game and realized that their previously stated tiebreaker scenarios were off. 

“We’re in the postseason?” Dave Roberts asked Dodgers reporters. 

The Giants have known for months that they won't be. They are playing spoiler, and they missed an opportunity to add a little more pain to a brutal September for their rivals. A clear single to right and two infield singles to the mound loaded the bases against Jansen in the ninth, but Buster Posey swung through a cutter right down the heart of the plate and Nick Hundley struck out for the 10th time in 10 career at-bats against Jansen. 

Giants lineup: Tomlinson takes over for Panik, hits in the two-hole


Giants lineup: Tomlinson takes over for Panik, hits in the two-hole

After scoring 11 runs, the Giants look to keep the bats hot and are turning to Kelby Tomlinson near the top of the lineup.

Arizona D'backs (62-46)

1. David Peralta (L) LF
2. Chris Iannetta (R) C
3. A.J. Pollock (R) CF
4. Paul Goldschmidt (R) 1B
5. J.D. Martinez (R) RF
6. Adam Rosales (R) SS
7. Jake Lamb (L) 3B
8. Brandon Drury (R) 2B
9. Anthony Banda (L) P

San Francisco Giants (42-68)

1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 2B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Hunter Pence (R) RF
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
8. Ryder Jones (L) 3B
9. Madison Bumgarner (R) P

As Giants look to future, a couple of bench bats keep coming up big

As Giants look to future, a couple of bench bats keep coming up big

OAKLAND -- The Giants have some big decisions to make before next opening day. They also have smaller decisions to make, and those are sometimes just as impactful. 

For years, the Giants have had a talent deficit on the bench. It shows up when players get hurt. It shows up when the weather heats up. It shows up when they spend a series with deeper teams, most notably the Dodgers.

To compete next season, the Giants will need to move around some big pieces, but they'll also need to be better equipped for the injuries and rest days of a long season. In that respect, Tuesday night's 10-4 win was a big one for two players.

Gorkys Hernandez hit leadoff and played center field. He had two hits, including a double. Over his last 36 games he's batting .327, raising his average to .260. He also showed off in center, making a running catch at the wall.

"Gorkys, what a job he's done," manager Bruce Bochy said. "In the early going I know there were questions about him and he wasn't playing much, but he's been one of our better players. You look at the way he's swinging the bat and you saw the range he has (in center)."

The Giants have always viewed Hernandez as a sort-of right-handed Gregor Blanco-type. It's possible that they'll look around this offseason and realize they are best off with his glove in center, which would allow for a power addition in left.

When the Giants look around for bench infielders this offseason, they probably shouldn't look too hard. Experience is always welcome, but Tomlinson continues to contribute. He reached three times Tuesday and scored twice while handling all his chances in left. He’s batting .261 with a .330 on-base percentage, numbers that are more than acceptable from a bench bat. He’s also a .344 batter as a pinch-hitter. 

"Tommy, he's showing his versatility by doing a good job in left," Bochy said. 

Of course, these two are primarily viewed by management as bench bats. They're extremely helpful to winning teams, but the Giants need the big guns, too. Brandon Belt hit his 17th homer and Hunter Pence added a huge insurance blast. Nick Hundley's first-inning homer was one of a season-high-tying three.

Bochy said Hensley Meuelens has been working with select regulars to try and add a little more pull-power. The Giants have fallen behind the rest of baseball, but they feel there's more power in this roster. They'd like to join the home run revolution, too. 

"You don't do it with all of them," Bochy said of swing adjustments. "You don't cookie-cutter hitters. But with guys you think can handle it and do it, it's okay to do it."