BY ANTHONY SOSA
With the San Francisco Giants losing Johnny Cueto to the DL due to an ankle injury, manager Bruce Bochy called on rookie left-hander Andrew Suarez to make his Major League debut on Wednesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Suarez responded by providing his skipper 5.1 solid innings, allowing four runs on four hits, along with seven strikeouts in the Giants 7-3 loss to the Diamondbacks at AT&T Park.
The rookie cruised the first time through the Diamondbacks’ order. He went nine-up, nine down, while striking out four batters in the first three innings. However, in the top of the fourth inning, he surrendered a base hit to Ketel Marte. Following the single, Suarez gave up a two-run, 436-foot homer to Paul Goldschmidt on a 1-2 pitch. “I’ve never faced him (Goldschmidt) but I just learned that I can’t make a lot mistakes because he can do a lot of damage,” Suarez said.
The home run was Goldschmidt’s second of the year and series. He hit a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth in Tuesday’s game off Hunter Strickland. Goldschmidt entered the series just 3-for-30 with zero home runs and two RBI to start his 2018 season. In three games against the Giants, he went 5-for-12 with a double, a triple, two homers and five RBI.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Diamondbacks added a run to their lead when catcher John Ryan Murphy sent a no-doubt home run into the left-field bleachers. It was Murphy’s second home run of the season. “I felt good other than those mistake pitches,” Suarez said. “I thought I threw pretty well.”
Despite threatening in both the third and fourth innings, the Giants didn’t put any runs on the board until the fifth inning. With one out, Austin Jackson walked and advanced to third on a Joe Panik single. With runners on the corners, Andrew McCutchen gave the Giants their first run of the day via a fielder’s choice. Buster Posey followed up with a left-field two-run home run to tie the game at three.
Posey’s homer was his second of the season and it also chased Diamondbacks’ starter Robbie Ray out of the game. Ray managed to avoid any blemishes through the first four innings but couldn’t avoid damage in the fifth. His final line included 4.2 innings pitched with three runs allowed on five hits, along with three walks and six strikeouts.
After the Giants tied the game in the bottom of the fifth, the Diamondbacks retook the lead the in the following frame. Ketel Marte doubled with one out, which ended Suarez’s day on the mound. Reliever Sam Dyson came out of the pen and promptly gave up a double to Goldschmidt, giving Arizona a 4-3 lead.
“I thought he did a nice job,” said Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy about Suarez’s debut. “Sure, he made a couple mistakes, but I thought overall it was a pretty good start by him. Throwing strikes, getting ahead, overall, I thought it was pretty impressive.”
The game unraveled a bit for the Giants in the top of the seventh inning. Dyson allowed an infield single and a stolen base to Deven Marrero before giving up an RBI double to Murphy. Pinch hitter Daniel Descalso followed Murphy with a double of his own to drive in another run. Two batters later, Marte singled in the third run of the inning and the Diamondbacks expanded their lead to four.
Goldschmidt, Marte and Murphy all had stellar days at the plate. The three combined for seven of the club’s nine hits. They had three doubles, two home runs and six RBI. “He was probably one of their coldest hitters when he came in here, but you know his numbers were going to get up there,” Bochy said on Goldschmidt’s great play in the series. “He took advantage of some mistakes.”
Despite Ray not getting through the fifth inning, the Diamondbacks’ bullpen kept the Giants’ offense at bay. In 4.1 innings of work, Arizona’s bullpen combined didn’t allow a run. They allowed only one hit and one walk. The Giants’ bats went dormant after Posey’s homer.
With the Giants’ top three starters (Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija and Cueto) on the DL, the team turned to two starters making their Major League debuts on back-to-back nights. Tyler Beede made his first big league start on Tuesday. He earned the no-decision with four innings of work, where he gave up two runs on three hits, allowing five walks to go along with three strikeouts. MLB Pipeline had Beede listed as the No. 4 prospect for the Giants heading into the 2018 season. Suarez sat at No. 10 on that list.
The Giants have yet to win a series this season, as they fell to 5-6 after their first homestand. With their win today, the Diamondbacks secured their fourth-consecutive series victory. They improved to 9-3 on the year, which has them leading the NL West by 3 1/2 games.
After completing their seven-game homestand, the Giants now hit the road where they will travel to San Diego, Arizona and Anaheim. They’ll start with a four-game series against the Padres. “I think this road trip is going to be good for us,” said Giants’ third baseman Evan Longoria. “Just get on the road as a group and be able to relax a little bit.”
Chris Stratton (0-1, 4.35) will make his third start of the season for the Giants on Thursday. In his two previous starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Stratton pitched 10.1 innings combined and allowed five earned runs along with seven strikeouts.
Opposing Stratton is Padres’ right-hander Bryan Mitchell (0-1, 4.22). The Padres acquired Mitchell in a trade with the New York Yankees during the offseason. Like Stratton, Mitchell will also make his third start of the season. In his first two starts, he faced the Colorado Rockies and Houston Astros. His starts were polar opposites of each other. In his first outing against the Rockies, he allowed five earned in five innings of work. Against the Astros he pitched better. In 5.2 innings he didn’t allow a run. Thursday’s game is slated for a 7:10 p.m. start at Petco Park.
Jackson left the game after the sixth inning in Wednesday’s game because of a tight groin, according to Bochy. “We think he’ll be fine tomorrow but for it to tighten up on him, we didn’t want to risk him injuring that,” Bochy said after the game.
With Suarez being added to the 40-man roster, the Giants moved Bumgarner to the 60-day DL. They also optioned reliever Steven Okert back to triple-A.
After Beede and Suarez made back-to-back Major League debuts on the mound, Tuesday and Wednesday, they became just the second pair of Giants to make debuts on consecutive days. The other occasion happened in 1976 when Bob Knepper made his debut on Sept. 10 and Frank Riccelli made his on Sept. 11.
The Giants continue to struggle with runners in scoring position. They came into today’s game with the second worst average with runner’s in scoring position in all of baseball. They went 0-4 with RISP during Wednesday’s game. For the season, the Giants are 12-79 with RISP, which equates to a .151 average.
Samardzija is nearing a return after suffering a strained pectoral muscle in Spring Training. He threw off the bullpen mound before today’s game and the team expects him to make a rehab start this coming Saturday for the minor league San Jose Giants.