SAN FRANCISCO -- Under the circumstances, which were decidedly unfavorable for the Giants, the 15-6 setback they absorbed in the first game of Saturday's day-night doubleheader against the Dodgers was a success.That's because Giants manager Bruce Bochy avoided using an excess number of relievers to halt the Dodgers' offense, which
SAN FRANCISCO -- Under the circumstances, which were decidedly unfavorable for the Giants, the 15-6 setback they absorbed in the first game of Saturday's day-night doubleheader against the Dodgers was a success.
That's because Giants manager Bruce Bochy avoided using an excess number of relievers to halt the Dodgers' offense, which pasted runs on the scoreboard in five of the first six innings. With another game awaiting the teams Saturday, Bochy had no desire to exhaust his bullpen. Indeed, after starter Chris Stratton lasted only 1 1/3 innings while yielding a career-high six runs, Roberto Gomez and Derek Law worked 3 1/3 and three innings, respectively, to spare most of their fellow relievers unnecessary work.
Stratton -- back from paternity leave, which enabled him to be present as his wife, Martha, gave birth to their second child, Mary -- plainly wasn't sharp. He needed a whopping 45 pitches to complete the first inning, when Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson rapped back-to-back RBI singles to highlight the Dodgers' offense.
"I feel like my job is to put us in the best position to win the game and I blew it early on for us," Stratton said.
One of Stratton's pitfalls was walking four batters in the first inning. Each free pass was involved in the scoring. Two of those batters scored and one loaded the bases to set up the final walk, which forced in a run.
Stratton became the first Giants pitcher to walk four batters in an inning since Matt Moore walked four Rockies in the third inning on Sept. 5, 2016. The last Giants pitcher to issue four first-inning walks was Ryan Vogelsong on June 13, 2015, against Arizona.
The ninth inning saw utility man Pablo Sandoval pitch a 1-2-3 inning, the first Giants position player to pitch since Greg Litton on July 4, 1991.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Maybe the runs were meaningless, but don't tell that to the Giants, who were impressed by the pop that second baseman Alen Hanson displayed when he belted a three-run homer in the seventh inning. Hanson, who played in the Majors with the Pirates and White Sox during the previous two seasons, had been playing for Triple-A Sacramento and began Saturday shopping with his wife when he received orders to report to the Giants. Spectators may see more of Hanson, since Bochy announced plans to divide playing time between him and Kelby Tomlinson -- "ham-and-egg" it, as he put it.
Sandoval became the fourth Giants position player to pitch since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958. The first was Matty Alou, who pitched two shutout innings despite allowing three hits and walking one at Pittsburgh on Aug.26, 1965.
Dave Kingman received two chances to pitch during the 1973 season -- April 15 against the Reds and May 13 against the Dodgers. He allowed two runs in two innings each time, totaling six walks and four strikeouts. Then came Litton.
The Giants' unusual stretch of 10 games against the Dodgers in the season's first month will end with Sunday's 2:05 p.m. PT series finale. Left-hander Ty Blach will start for the Giants, countered by right-hander Kenta Maeda for the Dodgers.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.