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Bats lack bite as Pomeranz labors in loss

Giants manage just five hits, drop series to hot Rays
@mi_guardado
April 7, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants trailed just two pitches into Sunday’s series finale against the Rays at Oracle Park. They never recovered, falling 3-0 in the rubber match to secure their third consecutive series loss to start the season for the first time since 2007. One day after scoring a

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants trailed just two pitches into Sunday’s series finale against the Rays at Oracle Park. They never recovered, falling 3-0 in the rubber match to secure their third consecutive series loss to start the season for the first time since 2007.

One day after scoring a season-high six runs, San Francisco’s offense once again fell flat. The Giants mustered only five hits against right-hander Yonny Chirinos and four Tampa Bay relievers in San Francisco's second shutout loss of the year.

“We just couldn’t do anything offensively,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We just couldn’t really get guys on base to put some pressure on them in the early go there. They played very well. It’s a good team. Good athletes, they made some great plays on us, even at the end of the game. But with that said, you’ve got to find a way to get some runs. Pitching, I thought they did their job. They gave us a chance.”

Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s defeat, which dropped the Giants to 3-7:

1. Pomeranz battles command issues in home debut
Yandy Diaz hit left-hander Drew Pomeranz’s second pitch of the game out to left field for a leadoff home run, giving Tampa Bay all the runs it would need on Sunday. Pomeranz did not look as sharp as he did in his first start of the season in Los Angeles, needing 92 pitches to get through four-plus innings. He gave up six hits, walked three and struck out five.

“I feel like my stuff was pretty good today,” Pomeranz said. “I just didn’t do a good job of staying ahead of guys and making good pitches when I needed to. I think I was out there kind of throwing today because I was feeling good, but I wasn’t really keeping them off balance.”

Pomeranz was forced to pitch out of the stretch in each inning and yielded an RBI single to former Giants prospect Christian Arroyo that extended the Rays’ lead to 2-0 in the fourth. Pomeranz came out to start the fifth, but he was removed from the game after surrendering a leadoff single to Daniel Robertson.

“He was a little erratic,” Bochy said. “He wasn’t real sharp with his command. But he competed. That game could have gotten away from him. We were hoping to get a little length from him today, but it got to the point where I had to go get him. I think you have to give him credit for really battling out there with all the traffic. It’s only going to get better with him.”

2. Keeping bullpen arms fresh will be tricky if starters can’t get deep into games
Trevor Gott replaced Pomeranz in the fifth and worked two scoreless innings before handing it off to Nick Vincent, who posted a clean seventh but allowed Kevin Kiermaier to triple and score on a balk in the eighth. The Giants don’t have much flexibility in their bullpen -- Reyes Moronta is the only reliever who can be optioned -- forcing them to lean on their arms for multiple innings when they don’t get much length from their starters. San Francisco has been able to minimize any potential overuse by carrying eight relievers, but that could prove difficult to sustain over the long run.

“I make it real hard on myself and everybody else when I throw that many pitches in that many innings,” Pomeranz said. “It’s not really acceptable for me to go out there and throw four innings. I want to get deeper into the games and not have to have the bullpen come in in the fourth or fifth inning. It’s just about making better pitches and getting ahead of guys more instead of getting a deep count on every single hitter.”

3. Early offensive woes continue
Diaz’s homer gave the Rays six first-inning runs over this series, providing a stark contrast to the Giants, whose hitters have gone 1-for-31 (.032) with a hit by pitch in the opening frame over their first 10 games of the year. Joe Panik nearly came away with a one-out infield single in the first after appearing to beat out shortstop Willy Adames’ throw to first base, but the call was overturned following a replay review.

“You always want to score first,” Bochy said. “The numbers show that your chances of winning are better when you take the lead. That’s never a good thing to get down, but there’s a lot of ballgames and you deal with that. With that said, we need to get some early runs. We did a nice job yesterday, but that’s been one of our issues, coming out and firing and getting some runs early to take some pressure off these pitchers.”

Bochy could tinker with the top of the order during the Giants’ upcoming three-game series against the Padres, who will start a trio of lefties in Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi and Nick Margevicius. Bochy said he expects Yangervis Solarte, who finished 2-for-2 after entering the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, will draw some starts during that series.

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