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Panda tosses scoreless inning -- for second time

Infielder pitches, homers, steals a base in loss as SF splits four-game series
@mi_guardado
May 6, 2019

CINCINNATI -- Shortly after arriving at Spring Training, Pablo Sandoval met with manager Bruce Bochy and reiterated his desire to do anything to help the club. That included pitching. After making his first career pitching appearance in a blowout loss to the Dodgers last April, Sandoval returned to the mound

CINCINNATI -- Shortly after arriving at Spring Training, Pablo Sandoval met with manager Bruce Bochy and reiterated his desire to do anything to help the club. That included pitching.

After making his first career pitching appearance in a blowout loss to the Dodgers last April, Sandoval returned to the mound and pitched a scoreless eighth inning in the Giants’ 12-4 loss to the Reds in Monday afternoon’s series finale at Great American Ball Park.

Box score

“It was fun,” Sandoval said. “Tough loss, but whatever I can do to help this team, I want to take that punch and sacrifice everything to help the bullpen.”

Sandoval, who also crushed a three-run home run off Anthony DeSclafani in the sixth and stole a base for the first time since 2012, hit Jose Peraza to start the inning before inducing a flyout from Josh VanMeter and a 6-4-3 double play from Nick Senzel. He threw seven of his 10 pitches for strikes and topped out at 84.3 mph, according to Statcast, keeping his 0.00 career ERA intact.

“It’s not easy, man,” Sandoval said. “Pitching is not easy. I make it easy because I have fun with it, and I don’t care about the situation.”

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Sandoval became only the second player since 1900 to throw a scoreless outing, hit a home run and steal a base in the same game, joining fellow Giant Christy Mathewson, who accomplished the feat on May 23, 1905.

Apart from adding a bit of levity to a lopsided loss, Sandoval also helped spare the Giants’ bullpen from further overuse, as the relief corps was called into action early on Monday when left-hander Drew Pomeranz was chased after allowing seven runs over 1 2/3 innings.

With the Reds leading by eight runs, Bochy approached Sandoval in the seventh inning and let him know that he would likely get the ball in the eighth.

“There was nobody else I was going to put out there,” Bochy said. “Those guys needed a break. And you know Pablo, he gets excited about stuff like that. He had one of the easiest innings we had, similar to the last time he pitched.”

Monday’s loss extended a troubling theme for the Giants’ starters, who were shelled for 27 runs (26 earned) -- including 12 home runs -- over 14 innings in this four-game series. Tyler Beede, Dereck Rodríguez, Jeff Samardzija and Pomeranz became the first Giants starters to allow at least 27 runs in any series since September 21-24, 2006, at Milwaukee.

While the Giants managed to come back from early deficits on Friday and Sunday to secure a series split, they will need better length and effectiveness from their starters as they head to Denver for a three-game series at Coors Field, another hitter-friendly ballpark. Bochy said the club will add one or two fresh arms to its bullpen ahead of Tuesday’s series opener. Left-hander Williams Jerez, who was brought to Cincinnati over the weekend in a taxi squad capacity, is a strong candidate to get his first look with the Giants.

“I’m trying to think if I’ve seen four games where starters have given up this many runs or home runs,” Bochy said. “It caught up with the ‘pen. Those guys were getting overused a little bit, we were just totally off our game as far as the starters. It catches up with you. I was good to get two wins out of this, trust me. If we wouldn’t have gotten those two, it really would have been a long four days.”

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.