LOS ANGELES -- The magic that the Giants sustained through the season's first two games was too fragile to be prolonged.San Francisco's charmed life featuring Joe Panik home runs and shutout pitching crumbled under the weight of three fielding errors and 10 strikeouts by Los Angeles starter Kenta Maeda in
LOS ANGELES -- The magic that the Giants sustained through the season's first two games was too fragile to be prolonged.
San Francisco's charmed life featuring Joe Panik home runs and shutout pitching crumbled under the weight of three fielding errors and 10 strikeouts by Los Angeles starter Kenta Maeda in Saturday night's 5-0 loss at Dodger Stadium.
Maeda left the game after five innings, but Giants hitters could not rouse themselves. San Francisco went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, bringing its season total in that category to 1-for-21.
"Clearly we have to get the hits when we have guys on base," right fielder Andrew McCutchen said. "We've got two runs but we've got two wins as well. No one's stressing over here. It's Game 3, guys. We're going to show up tomorrow ready to go."
The Giants' joyride took them through historical paths. They became the only team besides the 1943 Cincinnati Reds to record 1-0 triumphs in their first two games. They opened the season with shutout victories for the first time since April 4-5, 1994, against Pittsburgh. And they turned back the clock to May 11-12, 1960, against Philadelphia, when they last won consecutive 1-0 games in the same series.
The realization that this night would be different materialized immediately. Los Angeles scored twice in the first inning off Giants starter Derek Holland, who made his National League debut after eight years with the Rangers and one with the White Sox. He walked the first batter he faced, Chris Taylor, who came around to score. So did the other two batters Holland walked.
"If [the defeat] is anybody's fault today, it's mine for sure," Holland said. "You can't defend a walk."
You can defend, period. That's what McCutchen tried to do when he hustled after Taylor's sinking third-inning line drive near the right-field line. McCutchen dove, but the ball skipped past him for a triple. Enrique Hernandez's sacrifice fly scored Taylor.
McCutchen received a welcome visitor in the dugout after the inning ended: Holland, who informed him that he appreciated his effort. As McCutchen related, Holland said, "Hey, it's all right. Great effort. I've got your back."
Then the mutual unfamiliarity between McCutchen and center fielder Gregor Blanco revealed itself in the fourth inning, when they converged on James Farmer's fly ball to right-center field with two on and two out. Both called for the ball before McCutchen pulled up. Blanco gloved the ball but dropped it, enabling Cody Bellinger and Austin Barnes to race home with unearned runs.
"I don't think we heard each other because we were both screaming," said McCutchen, who was obtained in an offseason trade from Pittsburgh. "I backed off at the last second when I saw him going after it.
"... At the end of the day, we have to catch everything out there."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
No easy feat: Taylor's ball sprayed near the right-field line went for a triple as McCutchen came up empty on his do-or-die dive, but there was only a 7 percent catch probability according to Statcast™. McCutchen would have needed to cover 70 feet in 3.9 seconds of opportunity time and nearly did, reaching 29.2 feet/second sprint speed. Meanwhile, Taylor was even faster, running the bases at 29.3 feet/second sprint speed.
Making amends:John Forsythe, who committed three errors Friday night starting at third base in place of the injured Justin Turner, took the early lead for best defensive play of the year in the seventh inning to preserve the Dodgers' shutout. With two out, runners on first and second and playing second base, Forsythe ranged up the middle, threw across his body and retired McCutchen at first base.
Chris Stratton will try to sustain the momentum he built toward the end of last season when he faces Los Angeles in Sunday's series finale beginning at 5:37 p.m. PT. Stratton allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last nine starts, posting a 2.42 ERA in that span.
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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.