On Friday, the Giants played their first home game of the 2019 season at newly named Oracle Park, marking a momentous occasion, as it was manager Bruce Bochy's final home opener.
The Giants were hosts to the AL East's Tampa Bay Rays (6-2), who came in playing solid baseball from a pitching, defensive, and an offensive standpoint. In front of a sold out, orange and black-laden crowd, the Giants' young right-handed starter Dereck Rodriguez took the hill.
Things went sideways from the get go. After retiring the first two Rays he faced, D-Rod proceeded to give up four consecutive extra-base hits, including two doubles, followed by back-to-back home runs. Just like that, San Francisco was in an early 4-0 hole before they had even recorded an official at-bat. Fans who've been paying attention to the team's early offensive trend understand that the G-Men are struggling mightily at the plate in the early innings of games.
Facing a four-run deficit out of the gates is not a recipe for success for this team. Right on cue, the Giant offense proceeded to go down, in order, in the first, third, and fifth innings. In fact, the only real opportunity they created for themselves came in the second, when San Francisco had runners on first and second with no outs. Surprise, surprise... they couldn't execute, coming away with a "goose egg."
The middling Giant offense finally came alive in the seventh, when center fielder Kevin Pillar started things off with a single, followed by back-to-back doubles from pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval and right fielder Steven Duggar. The mini-rally plated two runs and thrust the Giants right back into the game. It looked like there would be a comeback bid when the G-Men loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth. However, this represented false hope, as the next two batters proceeded to strike out and ground into an inning-ending double play.
Again, the Giants manufactured a potential rally, in the bottom of the ninth, down three runs. After the first two hitters reached base, they had three chances with the tying run at the plate. Yet, once again, their rally fell short and Bochy's final home-opener ended on a sour note in a 5-2 loss.
Although the Giants' bats have been woefully silent against opposing starting pitchers, they have tended to come alive late and against tough relievers featuring nasty stuff. If they can begin to chip away at the starters they face earlier, the Giants will set themselves up for a greater opportunity to snag a few more wins.
From a pitching perspective, we left the game after Dereck Rodriguez's horrible first frame. However, the young righty proceeded to settle down and settle in comfortably, retiring 13 of the next 16 batters he faced. He left in the sixth, after retiring one and leaving two base runners, who were eventually stranded by reliever Travis Bergen. All in all, D-Rod had a pretty strong outing outside of the disastrous first inning. The bullpen did their part, surrendering only one earned run in 3.2 innings of work, keeping the Giants alive until the end.