Giants bats pick up the slack in win vs Nationals

Giants bats pick up the slack in win vs Nationals

WASHINGTON D.C. — Bruce Bochy smiled and shook his head. The numbers don’t make sense to him, either. 

“I guess they like home cooking?” he said of a lineup that is having a backwards season. 

The Giants walked into Nationals Park on Friday averaging 3.38 runs in 32 games away from AT&T Park. At home, where they happen to, you know, take their at-bats in the worst hitters’ park in the majors, they are averaging 5.03 runs per game. 

It makes no sense. A deep and improved lineup is one of the league’s best when at AT&T Park. But put those same hitters in smaller parks, in warmer weather, in thinner air, and they had been turning back into the 98-loss Giants. No team in the National League was averaging fewer runs on the road entering play Friday.  

“You go on the road and the parks are a lot more conducive to hitting,” Bochy said in the afternoon. “You look at the past and we’ve hit pretty well on the road. That’s what’s surprising. You could say it doesn’t make sense because it’s a pitchers’ park at home.”

On Friday night, this lineup started to act accordingly. The Giants had 15 hits against the Nationals, and all of the production was needed. Andrew Suarez nearly gave back a 5-0 lead and the Nationals got within a run in the sixth inning, but the Giants struck back with three more in the top of the seventh. They kicked off a long trip with a 9-5 win. 

“The bats picked us up. A lot of good things we did offensively, and throughout the lineup,” Bochy said. “Everybody did something to contribute. The thing I liked is we came back and scored a couple times after they scored. That’s always huge.”

The onslaught started early and was all-encompassing. Andrew McCutchen homered in the first inning and Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence highlighted a two-run second with doubles. Alen Hanson, starting at third base for the first time, tripled to lead off the fourth. Gorkys Hernandez hit his seventh homer a couple minutes later. When the Giants ran into trouble, they responded by sending eight hitters to the plate in the top of the seventh. Sandoval and Pence had RBI singles this time around. 

The rallies kept Suarez from what could have been a brutal night. He had his best fastball of the season early and struck out four in the first two innings, but he couldn’t maintain it. His command disappeared in the fifth but the lineup had already done enough.

“It was a good feeling. I was already out of the game, but it's nice know we had the lead and with our bullpen it's pretty much game over once they grab the lead,” Suarez said. “Coming here and getting that first game definitely sets the tone."

Why Dereck Rodriguez's injury hits outside-looking-in Giants at worst time

Why Dereck Rodriguez's injury hits outside-looking-in Giants at worst time

SAN FRANCISCO — Your view of which side was to blame Tuesday night depends almost entirely on which side of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry you grew up on. That much was made clear over the past three days, both in the aftermath of the mini-brawl and when the punishments were handed down Thursday. 

At this point, it doesn’t really matter how much blame to place with either party. The only thing that matters for the Giants is that for the second consecutive year, they found themselves mixed up in a silly skirmish that cost them a player. This time around, the price is steeper for the team, both because of the player involved and the circumstances of the season. 

A year ago, Michael Morse’s career ended with a concussion suffered when Jeff Samardzija crashed into him seconds after Hunter Strickland threw at Bryce Harper. Morse was put on the DL and soon found himself retired, but with a .194 average on a terrible team, he wasn’t going to stick around much longer anyway. Morse admitted to USA Today earlier this year that he looks back on that stretch as “playing with house money.”

This season’s injury will have a far greater impact, even though the hamstring strain Dereck Rodriguez suffered was announced as just a Grade 1. The timing couldn’t be worse for the Giants, who are on the fringes of the playoff race, sure, but are far from the 98-loss pace they were on when Morse went down last season. They still have hopes of making a run. 

The staff got together in Los Angeles and went away from manager Bruce Bochy’s tradition, using the off day to skip the fifth starter spot. That had Rodriguez lined up to face the Reds on Friday night, with the hope that the Giants could build off the momentum from the Dodgers series. He was going to face the lowly Mets next week, too. Those were two very good opportunities for road wins. 

Instead, it’ll be Casey Kelly on Friday, and the Giants will piece it together from there. The rotation is weakened with the loss of a dominant rookie who was soaking up innings like an ace, and the repercussions surely will be felt in the bullpen at some point on this important road trip.

The Giants have no margin for error this season, and they already have found themselves reeling from things like Madison Bumgarner being hit by a liner, Brandon Belt’s appendix acting up, Evan Longoria getting drilled by a pitch, Joe Panik spraining his thumb on a tag, and Mac Williamson suffering a concussion when he ran over a bullpen mound. 

There was blame to be placed Tuesday, but this also is another bad break. Rodriguez was the first from the dugout to reach the scrum, doing what players do dozens of times a year without injury, and he appeared fine as he hopped around the outside of the altercation. Two days later, the Giants admitted their latest beef with Yasiel Puig had come at a costly price.

The Giants will hope Rodriguez can return on the next homestand, but this is a blow to his Rookie of the Year campaign and a big shot to a roster that now has just three healthy starters and really could have used two more Rodriguez starts over the next week. Chris Stratton is an option to return, and Ty Blach is available for spot-start duty. Tyler Beede is on the minor league DL, so you can cross him off. Perhaps Shaun Anderson is thrown into a playoff push. Management surely spent the flight to Cincinnati trying to figure all that out instead of enjoying a successful and dramatic series at Dodger Stadium that was highlighted by Tuesday's shoving match. 

An hour after the shoving had ended, catcher Nick Hundley said he hoped the incident would bring the team closer together. 

“This is a tight-knit group,” he said. “We’ll feed off that. What a great win.”

The next night, the Giants lost in extra innings. They now have lost at least two starts from a player who was the best part of a season forever stuck around the .500 mark.

It doesn’t really matter who is to blame at this point. The simple truth is that the Giants have been involved in several of these incidents the last five years, and they finally paid a steep on-field price. 

Giants put Dereck Rodriguez on DL with injury from brawl with Dodgers

Giants put Dereck Rodriguez on DL with injury from brawl with Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tuesday's brief scuffle at Dodger Stadium ended up being much more costly for the Giants than for the Dodgers.

A few hours after Yasiel Puig was suspended two games by Major League Baseball, the Giants announced that rookie right-hander Dereck Rodriguez was placed on the disabled list after being hurt during the altercation between the Dodgers outfielder and San Francisco catcher Nick Hundley. 

Rodriguez went on the 10-day DL on Thursday with a Grade 1 hamstring strain. He was one of the first players on the scene when Puig and Hundley exchanged shoves Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. Rodriguez came from the dugout and apparently got hurt somewhere during the exchange. 

The blow is a big one to a Giants team that's on the fringes of the National League playoff race. Rodriguez, a rookie, has been the club's best pitcher, posting a 6-1 record and 2.25 ERA to this point. He has allowed just six runs in five second-half starts, throwing his name into the NL Rookie of the Year race. 

The Giants skipped their fifth starter so Rodriguez and Madison Bumgarner could kick off the three-game series in Cincinnati. Instead, Casey Kelly will start Friday's opener against the Reds. The Giants will announce a corresponding roster move Friday.