Giants

Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gary Sanchez hit the ball so hard that Derek Holland appeared to flinch on the mound. A beat later, he dropped his head. In the dugout, his manager did the same. 

Bruce Bochy tried to get his starter through the fifth inning, something that no longer is a given in this game. The third-time-through penalty bit Holland hard, and after a 6-4 loss to the Yankees, his manager took the blame. 

"I took this one," Bochy said. "I own it."

With Holland leaking oil and the Giants already down a pair, Bochy had hard-throwing right-hander Trevor Gott up in the bullpen as Sanchez walked up with the bases loaded. For a second, as coaches looked around in the dugout, it appeared Bochy would make a move. But he stuck with Holland and Sanchez hit a 467-foot grand slam, continuing an early theme for the staff. 

Entering the day, Giants starters had held opposing lineups to a .622 OPS the first time up and .699 OPS the second time. But in that third matchup, the OPS against jumps all the way to .913, with a .313 batting average and .563 slugging percentage. The starters had allowed seven homers in 112 at-bats when facing a hitter for the third time. Bochy knows the numbers, but he tried to show faith in Holland. 

"I tried to get him through the inning," he said. "That's my fault. I had Gott up. I felt (Holland) still had good stuff and was making good pitches. I gave him a chance to get through that and he made a mistake there."

 

That maybe shouldn't have been a surprise. Holland had already given up three homers in 20 at-bats the third time through this season and had allowed six runs. He put himself in a jam Saturday by giving up singles to Cameron Maybin and Thairo Estrada -- both of whom were batting for just the second time -- as the lineup turned over. Leadoff hitter DJ LeMahieu drew a walk in his third plate appearance and Holland plunked Luke Voit.

Sanchez got a two-strike fastball that wasn't in enough and he blasted it to left-center. The grand slam was the third-longest homer at Oracle Park since Statcast began tracking four years ago.

Holland explained that he had gotten too fastball-happy inside, so Sanchez didn't have to think hard to know what was coming. It's an issue Holland has had at times before, but it also illustrates why front offices are so hesitant these days to let starters get deep. If you spend the first few innings succeeding with one gameplan, eventually hitters will adjust. The Giants didn't adjust back quickly enough Saturday, and it cost them.

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As Bochy talked about the decision-making process, he pointed out that it's a long season and you can't overwork a bullpen. But ... 

"We had a right-hander ready," he added.