The 4-10 Giants get their first up-close look at the 9-3 Dodgers this week over three games at AT&T Park. The second game of the series Wednesday is a tantalizing pitching match-up of last year’s National League MVP, Clayton Kershaw, and the World Series MVP, Madison Bumgarner. But the Giants are in no position to look past the next game on their schedule.
“I think every game’s critical,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The last thing you want to do is get too far back here early, and until we get our mojo or whatever going here …
“It’s early. But at the same time, I think we all know it’s time to really pick things up – especially here at home.”
Bochy was speaking after the Giants’ 5-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. It was their ninth loss in 10 games, a span in which they’ve been outscored 49-20. It dropped them to 4-10, matching the team’s worst record through 14 games in the San Francisco era and standing alone as the worst 14-game mark by a Bochy-managed team.
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The minus-29 run differential in the past 10 games indicates the Giants have struggled with hitting and pitching, and the cozy confines of AT&T Park have provided little comfort. Chris Heston’s 72/3 good innings Saturday night gave the Giants their lone win in seven games at home, where the offense has scored an average of two runs a game.
Their one run Sunday – coming on Angel Pagan’s sacrifice fly in the first inning – was one more than Tim Hudson received in either of his first two starts this season. But by that time the Giants already trailed 2-0, with Hudson allowing a two-run home run to Giants-killer Paul Goldschmidt in the top of the first.
Goldschmidt’s homer followed a single by A.J. Pollock and came on Hudson’s first pitch of the at-bat, which had the Giants right-hander scratching his head afterward.
“Looking back, I’m not sure he’s ever swung first pitch off me,” Hudson said. But it was the ninth time this year Goldschmidt has put the first pitch of an at-bat into play, and the third time he has hit it over the outfield wall.
Since debuting in the majors Aug. 1, 2011, Goldschmidt leads the world with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs against the Giants. He also walked and scored in the Diamondbacks’ three-run third inning against Hudson – which turned on a non-strike call that had Bochy barking from the Giants’ dugout.
With two on, two out and the score still 2-1, Hudson threw a full-count fastball to Aaron Hill that plate umpire Dan Iassogna ruled missed just high for ball four. Catcher Andrew Susac said afterward he thought the pitch was a strike, and Bochy said he thought Hudson “was out of the inning.”
“The call didn’t go our way,” Bochy said. “That seemed like it threw him out of whack.”
Hudson then hit Jordan Pacheco with a 2-0 pitch to force in a run, and threw a high 0-2 fastball that Chris Owings lined into right field for a two-run single. Hudson threw 31 pitches in the inning and departed after the fifth, which he said was frustrating because, “Honestly I think this was probably the best I’ve felt all year so far.
“I think two pitches, you bring back two pitches and we beat them 1-0,” Hudson said, referencing the home run pitch to Goldschmidt and the close fourth ball to Hill. “But that’s not the case, and obviously I gave up five runs through three innings, and that’s kind of tough to crawl back from.”
Especially tough given how the Giants are hitting. Bochy ran out a different lineup Sunday – with Brandon Belt making his first start in left field since 2012, Nori Aoki in right field and Buster Posey at first base – saying he wanted to get struggling regulars like Belt into a rhythm.
Belt collected two hits, as did Brandon Crawford and Aoki, who led off the first inning with a double and scored on Pagan’s sacrifice fly. But the Giants hit into three double plays off Arizona starter Jeremy Hellickson, and other hard-hit balls with runners on – including Hudson’s two-out sinking liner to center field in the second inning and Joe Panik’s scorcher to the second baseman Owings in the fifth – were caught for harmless outs.
The Giants have their first off-day of the season Monday following 14 consecutive games to start the year, which Bochy said he hopes “will freshen guys up.” The focus then turns to the Dodgers, who have won eight of 10 to seize the early lead in the N.L. West – with the Giants bringing up the rear.
“We’re not looking at the numbers just yet,” Panik said. “We just know we have to play better baseball.”