After another arduous night for Giants' 'pen, what's next?

June 30th, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO -- It took a combined 16 pitchers, 11 innings and nearly four hours for the Giants to fall to the Dodgers, 14-7, on Saturday evening at Oracle Park.

What began as a back-and-forth contest remained deadlocked until extras, when the Dodgers hit right-hander hard for eight runs (six earned), including seven in the 11th inning.

The seven runs are the most the Giants have allowed in an extra inning since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958. The last time the club had allowed that many in extras was Aug. 6, 1922, against the Cubs at the Polo Grounds (eight runs in the 10th).

"We gave a couple of runs away early," manager Bob Melvin said. "But we had a chance to win the game, too. I mean, the guys battled hard. … We had an opportunity to win the game in extras, we didn't come through, and we obviously gave up a big number in the 11th."

The momentum was there, but the Giants struggled to keep it on their side. Here are three takeaways from what ended up as a lopsided loss:

Dodgers handle Hjelle
With the game knotted at 6-6 after nine innings, Hjelle entered for the 10th. He allowed automatic runner Chris Taylor to score on Miguel Rojas' RBI single, but that was all.

After the Giants tied the game back up but failed to go ahead in the bottom half of the frame, Hjelle returned for the 11th -- and that's when things took a turn. San Francisco opted to intentionally walk Shohei Ohtani to bring up Will Smith, and Los Angeles responded by notching five consecutive hits to kick off the decisive inning.

Given the state of the Giants' beleaguered bullpen -- which leads the Majors with 350 2/3 innings -- Hjelle had to wear the loss and was tagged for a career-high-tying six earned runs, eight in all counting the two automatic runners. His ERA ticked up by more than a run to 3.54.

"I really had one inning in him today, and we asked him to do a little bit more," Melvin said. "It's too bad that he gave up as many as he did, but we couldn't use another pitcher at that time."

Missed opportunities pile up
The Giants had been off to a promising start, jumping out to a 5-2 lead and chasing Dodgers starter Tyler Glasnow after a four-run third inning.

"I feel like he's done a good job throwing strikes this year," catcher Patrick Bailey said, "and we were kind of able to get him out of the zone, couple walks."

But San Francisco also had multiple opportunities to put the game out of reach and failed to cash in. The team's big third inning started off with a Jorge Soler RBI double, but he was thrown out at third base on LaMonte Wade Jr.'s grounder to Dodgers shortstop Miguel Rojas.

One inning earlier, Matt Chapman had doubled to lead off the second only to be thrown out attempting to steal third base, right before Michael Conforto hit a two-bagger of his own. Glasnow then retired the side.

"I thought he wasn't going to be paying attention to me," Chapman said. "I thought I could just kind of roll into third there, and I think I broke a little bit too early."

And in the 10th inning, after David Villar's pinch-hit RBI double tied the game, the Giants had the bases loaded with one out. Bailey struck out, and Chapman popped out to end the threat.

Who's on tap for the finale?
With Logan Webb, Jordan Hicks and recently promoted No. 6 prospect Hayden Birdsong representing the team's only healthy starters, the Giants had to lean on their bullpen for the last two games of their weekend series against the Dodgers.

San Francisco ended up using seven pitchers on Saturday, putting the club in a jam for the rubber game.

Only three members of the 'pen did not appear on Saturday: Tyler Rogers, who was unavailable after pitching in three of the prior four games; Luke Jackson, who has struggled in leverage situations; and Spencer Bivens, who could be a candidate to cover bulk innings on Sunday. The 30-year-old rookie has thrown up to three innings and 49 pitches in the Majors this year.

When asked how the Giants would get through the finale, Melvin's answer was brief: "We'll see."