BY ANTHONY SOSA
After an exhilarating 5 hour and 16 minute, 14-inning affair last night, the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers followed it up with another extra inning game Sunday at AT&T Park. This time the late-inning heroics came for Los Angeles instead as pinch hitter Kyle Farmer delivered a clutch, two-out RBI double in the top of the 10th inning to give the Dodgers a narrow 2-1 victory as they salvaged a split of the rain shortened series.
It was a pitcher’s duel throughout the game. Clayton Kershaw looked nearly unhittable through his first seven innings of work, allowing just three hits and no runs. However, when the eighth inning came around, the Giants singled three consecutive times and scored their only run of the game. Kershaw finished with seven innings pitched and one run allowed on six hits, no walks and six strikeouts. He’s now pitched 19 innings with three runs allowed for an ERA of 1.42 in three outings this season.
Squaring off against Kershaw was Giants’ lefty Ty Blach, who started Sunday’s game a lot better than his previous outing against the Seattle Mariners, where he allowed four earned runs in the first inning. The lefty had a routine three-up, three-down inning to start the game. The Dodgers threatened in the second inning by loading the bases but Blach induced an inning-ending double play off the bat of Austin Barnes. In the fourth inning, Blach hit another rough patch. He allowed a leadoff single to Yasiel Puig and walked Kike Hernandez before giving up an RBI single to Matt Kemp. However, Blach buckled down and got Logan Forsythe to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Despite the two shaky innings, Blach pitched well overall and earned a quality start. He finished with six innings pitched, allowing one run on four hits, with three walks and a strikeout. Blach’s now pitched in three games this season for a total of 15.1 innings where he’s allowed seven runs for an ERA of 4.11.
“Once again, he just gives a great chance to win the ballgame,” said Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy. “He’s thrown the ball well. He’s done a nice job filling in for Madison (Bumgarner).” Sunday’s start marked Blach’s fourth career start against Kershaw. He hasn’t backed down against arguably the best pitcher in baseball. In those four starts, Blach has pitched 24 innings and allowed just three runs for a 1.13 ERA. “You got to keep the score down and try to keep your team in the game and give them a chance,” Blach said when asked about facing a pitcher with Kershaw’s talent.
Buster Posey delivered the game-tying RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning. The hit was the Giants first and only with a runner in scoring position on Sunday. They finished the game 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Pierce Johnson entered the game for the Giants in the top of the 10th inning and immediately allowed a double to Cody Bellinger. Going to left field with the pitch, Bellinger beat the shift and cruised into second uncontested. With one out, the Giants decided to intentionally walk Corey Seager to put runners on first and second. Johnson was a strike away from getting out of the jam when Farmer came through with an RBI double off the right-field wall.
Kenley Jansen came out of the bullpen in the bottom of the 10th and shut down the Giants. Despite the shaky start to Jansen’s 2018 season, he faced just four batters on Sunday and recorded his first save of the year.
Hunter Pence singled with one out in the bottom of the 10th and got to second via a stolen base, but he was stranded there as the game ended on a controversial third strike call on pinch hitter Brandon Belt. Home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman rang up Belt despite the pitch appearing to be above the strike zone.
“That’s tough no matter how you look at,” Belt said after the game. “That’s just so far out, that should never happen. It was easily too high. I mean, there’s not much else you can say about it. It just wasn’t a strike.”
With the loss, the Giants fall to 4-4 on the season, which has them tied with the Colorado Rockies for second in the NL West. The Dodgers improve to 3-5 , placing them fourth in the division. The Arizona Diamondbacks currently sit atop the division with a 7-2 record.
“The NL West is going to be a battle all year,” said Giants’ catcher Nick Hundley. “Doesn’t matter who you are playing against, it’s going to be a grind. There’s a lot of good teams, a lot of good players, a lot of good lineups, so it’s going to be a great battle for everyone.”
The Giants will now prepare to close out their homestand as the Diamondbacks head into San Francisco for a three-game series. Derek Holland (0-1, 5.40) gets the ball in the opening game of the series for the Giants. Holland was originally scheduled to pitch Friday against the Dodgers but due to the rainout, Bochy rearranged the rotation and Holland got three extra days of rest. In Holland’s first outing of the season against the Dodgers, he pitched five innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on three hits, three walks and four strikeouts.
For the Diamondbacks, Zack Godley (1-0, 1.29) will get the starting nod. In his first outing of the season, also against the Dodgers, he pitched seven innings with just one run allowed on four hits, with a walk and three punchouts, which earned him the win. Monday’s game is set for a 7:15 p.m. start time.
The Giants’ bullpen continues to impress early in the season. So far, the bullpen combined has pitched 36.1 innings and allowed nine runs for a 2.05 ERA. If you take away Roberto Gomez’s rough outing on April 1 in Los Angeles, the Giants’ bullpen ERA would sit at 1.28.
Bochy had high praise for right-handed reliever Reyes Moronta before today’s game. Moronta has yet to allow a run in five innings pitched this season. “I wouldn’t rule out him being a closer,” Bochy said about Moronta’s potential. “You’re looking at a guy throwing 95-96 with a good slider and has that mentality you love from a guy at the back end of a game. There’s no fear, he comes at you. You saw last night what he is capable of doing.”
Although it’s very early in the season, the Giants currently rank No. 1 in baseball when it comes to allowing opponents to homer. Their pitching has given up just two home runs in eight games to start the season. “That’s two mistakes,” Bochy said. “That’s pretty impressive against the teams that we’ve played. The guys have really done a great job of executing their pitches. The long ball hurt us last year.”