Reyes Moronta

Giants pitchers dig too deep a hole for hitters in loss to Nationals

Giants pitchers dig too deep a hole for hitters in loss to Nationals

WASHINGTON D.C. -- The Giants trailed by seven runs at the beginning of the ninth inning Wednesday night. About 15 minutes later, Sean Doolittle was on the mound and Reyes Moronta was hurrying to get hot in the visiting bullpen.

A spirited comeback fell short when Evan Longoria popped up with two on, capping a 9-6 loss. Those kinds of rallies leave you feeling better about your night. They also leave you with plenty of regrets. The main ones on Wednesday: Jeff Samardzija gave up two homers in the first and Travis Bergen allowed two more in the seventh.

"We just dug ourselves too big a hole," manager Bruce Bochy said. 

Samardzija had not allowed a homer in his six previous starts, including three strong ones to start this season. That was a big deal for a pitcher who once led the league in homers allowed and gave up 30 bombs in another season. But on this night, the Nationals jumped on two bad two-seamers in the first. 

Juan Soto got one that leaked up and in and crushed a no-doubter to right, giving the Nationals an early 2-0 lead. Two batters later, Howie Kendrick did similar damage to a two-seamer that again was in the happy zone. Samardzija said he'll go back to the drawing board, noting he felt too quick with his delivery. 

"It was a battle out there," he said. "Especially early."

The Giants lost for the 11th time in their first 19 games, and while this one was unfamiliar in terms of power on both sides -- they hit two homers in the ninth -- the comeback was something they've become used to. The lineup makes a habit of coming through late, and on most nights the regret is that there wasn't enough production early. This time the hole was too deep because of the pitching, but Samardzija hoped that ninth inning would help out in the series finale. The Nationals ended up using three relievers in the inning, including their closer. 

[RELATED: Braves lose their closer; Could Giants be trade partner?]

"It's not surprising," Samardzija said. "It was great to see. You get into the bullpen and even in a loss you make them get a few guys up, a few more than they wanted to. Those things carry over."

Could Giants trade bullpen arm to Braves after Arodys Vizcaino injury?

smithgiantsap.jpg
AP

Could Giants trade bullpen arm to Braves after Arodys Vizcaino injury?

The Giants don't have a bonafide closer. They do, however, have several quasi-closers who have filled that role in the past, or possibly could do so in the future.

Will Smith, Mark Melancon, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson and Reyes Moronta have combined to post a 1.82 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 39 2/3 innings, giving San Francisco what ranks as one of the best bullpens in all of baseball. The Giants' relievers rank first overall in WAR (plus-1.6), according to FanGraphs.

With the emergence of Trevor Gott (plus-0.3) and Travis Bergen (plus-0.2), the Giants suddenly have an abundance of good-but-not-great options from both sides of the mound in the later innings.

The Atlanta Braves, however, suddenly have one fewer option, and it's a big loss. The team announced Wednesday that closer Arodys Vizcaino had season-ending shoulder surgery.

Of the Giants and Braves, one team seems significantly more likely to make a run at the postseason than the other, and it's not the one that has scored the third-fewest runs in all of baseball.

San Francisco could certainly use an influx of youth and talent into all levels of the organization. Although a potential trade for one of the Giants' aforementioned quasi-closers wouldn't net a ton in return, the Braves entered the season with the third-best farm system in the majors, according to MLB.com.

[RELATED: Why Giants envision 'great comeback' from injury for Bart]

The Giants' bullpen has surpassed expectations and been a pleasant surprise, and yet, San Francisco has been below .500 since Opening Day. They're not going to contend this season, and if they're going to a year or two from now, a call to the Braves is the kind the Giants should be making.

Giants' bullpen has been their strength, and it 'got away' from them in LA

Giants' bullpen has been their strength, and it 'got away' from them in LA

LOS ANGELES -- You probably have your own opinions about whether the 2019 Giants are truly built to win, but this much is true: They are built to win the close ones where they enter the late innings with the lead. 

The bullpen is the strength of this team, particularly the back end, but that wasn't the case in a 5-3 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday. This result was straight out of the Upside Down. 

Reyes Moronta, so dominant in his first outing, got pushed around in the decisive seventh. Moronta gave up a double to Austin Barnes, walked Kiké Hernandez, and then threw a fastball that didn't fool David Freese. The scorcher to the gap brought Barnes home as the tying run and Hernandez home as the game-winner, erasing a rare two-homer effort from the Giants lineup. 

"For some reason we don't get away with walks, man," manager Bruce Bochy said. "They come back to haunt us."

Moronta's lack of command haunted him, and Tony Watson gave up another run in the eighth, making the comeback attempt a bit harder.

[RELATED: Pence is hitting .400, and is having fun]

The Giants went 26-30 in one-run games last year and have dropped two of three to start the season. All seven of their games have been close, but they're just 2-5 as they head home. Bochy said 3-4 would have at least made it "decent," but the bullpen couldn't close it down.

"We have a good bullpen," Bochy said. "That's going to have to be our strength, holding on, and it got away from us."