Wood stumbles, still searching for early form

June 20th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- There were no shutdown innings during the opening third of Saturday afternoon’s game at Oracle Park, with the Giants and Phillies repeatedly trading blows and matching each other’s offensive firepower. The Phillies didn’t let up, but the counter-punches ultimately faded for the Giants, who watched a back-and-forth affair turn into a blowout in an ugly 13-6 loss.

’s second home run in as many days -- a solo shot that was blasted into McCovey Cove -- tied the game at 6 in the bottom of the third, but Ronald Torreyes launched a go-ahead shot off left-handed reliever Jarlín García in the sixth, and Rhys Hoskins broke the game open with his second home run of the afternoon in the seventh.

Hoskins, a Sacramento, Calif., native, supplied a career-high six RBIs to help snap the Giants’ five-game winning streak and set up a rubber match in Sunday’s series finale. The 13 runs were the most allowed by San Francisco in a game since a 15-3 loss to the A’s on Aug. 16, 2020.

“It just wasn't a crisp game all the way around,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We have a better brand of baseball in us, and this wasn't our best today."

The Giants tagged right-hander Aaron Nola for six runs over 2 1/3 innings, but they were shut down by the Phillies’ bullpen the rest of the way, mustering only two hits against five Philadelphia relievers.

LaMonte Wade Jr. and Mike Yastrzemski combined to go 4-for-9 with a home run and five RBIs at the top of San Francisco’s lineup, but their production wasn’t enough to overcome a rough start from left-hander , who lasted only three innings in his shortest outing of the year.

Wood gave up six runs (four earned) on six hits while walking two and striking out four, causing his ERA to spike to 4.09 on the season. The Giants had to use six relievers to cover the remaining six innings, stretching their relief corps ahead of another expected bullpen game on Sunday, which will be started by left-hander Sammy Long.

“I just didn’t have it today,” Wood said. “It’s just one of those days where you go out there and you hope you can compete and grind it out and hang in there for however many innings you can last and give our guys a chance to win. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t able to do that today.”

The Phillies forced Wood to throw 35 pitches in the first inning, but the 30-year-old veteran managed to limit the damage to one run. He returned to the mound in the second with a 2-1 lead after Yastrzemski blasted a two-run shot off Nola in the bottom of the first, but he caught a bad break when second baseman Donovan Solano fielded a grounder from Odúbel Herrera in shallow right field and made a wide throw that pulled Belt off the bag at first base, allowing Herrera to reach on a two-out error.

Three pitches later, Hoskins crushed a 2-0 changeup from Wood out to left field to put the Phillies back in front, 3-2.

"I think at least some of it is a function of their right-handed hitters swinging the bat really well,” Kapler said. “Obviously, Rhys Hoskins is confident. When he's confident, you kind of have to get in the zone quickly with him. You know there's going to be some hard contact, but you don't want to stretch out at-bats to guys like him and [Andrew] McCutchen right now because they're going to be pretty good about making you come on the plate. It's almost like you use your best stuff to get in the zone early and look to rely on your defense. Unfortunately, I don't think our defense played our best game today.”

Wood gave up three more runs in his final inning, but he approached Kapler in the dugout after the top of the third and unsuccessfully lobbied to stay in the game.

“He definitely wanted to go back out and save our bullpen one inning of work,” Kapler said. “At that point, and I shared this with Woody, I didn’t think he was the option to get the next three hitters out.”

Wood posted a 2.44 ERA through the first two months of the season, but he’s now logged an 8.50 ERA over four starts in June. One of the missing ingredients for Wood has been the ability to command his slider, which has held opposing hitters to a .140 clip and generated a 40.7% whiff rate, the highest of his three offerings. His slider usage has fallen from 38.8% in April to 20.7% this month, and he’s tried to compensate by increasing his reliance on his changeup, which he’s thrown 31.1% of the time in June compared to 20.4% in the opening month of the season.

“It’s still a work in progress for Woody,” Kapler said. “You’re seeing him rely pretty heavily on the changeup. I thought his fastball was fine at times. He’s going to keep working on his slider to refine it and get it where he wants it to be.”