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Giants waste a five-run first, lose 9-6

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In the first inning, the bats exploded and Drew Pomeranz imploded.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

For about 20 minutes, the Giants were in absolute control of this game. They jumped out to an early lead with an unprecedented first-inning rally. The Giants kept the line moving with some well-placed grounders and by drawing a few walks. Evan Longoria had himself a nice at-bat when he went from 2-2 to getting himself a free pass. Pablo Sandoval scorched a ground ball that Jonathan Villar couldn’t come up with. Steven Duggar finished a nice appearance with a shot through the five and six hole to plate the final two runs of the inning.

The big hit in the inning was the one that brought in the first inning. In his first at-bat against the team that initially drafted him, Mike Yastrzemski roped a triple into the right field corner. What was impressive was that it was off the first curveball he had seen from Andrew Cashner. It came on a 1-2 count after three straight fastballs, and Cashner, to his credit, got it below the zone. He wanted Yastrzemski to swing at that, but Yas the Younger beat it. I can’t imagine that it’s easy to hit a breaking ball from a pitcher you’ve never faced before especially in a two-strike count.

There might have been something about Cashner that Yastrzemski liked because in his next at-bat, he got his first big league homer.

As Alex Pavlovic reminded us, Yastrzemski had to play in more than 700 minor league games to make it to this point. To get his first home run against the team that kept him down for most of that time must have felt pretty good.

After tripling and homering in his first two plate appearances, Yastrzemski had the two most difficult legs of the cycle, and it was only the second inning. He wound up not getting another hit because the Giants offense shut off after the second inning. Any runner they got on base was immediately erased with a double play or a force out.

The Giants had the Orioles right where they wanted them. Before Drew Pomeranz even took the mound, the Giants batted around and brought five runs in. For a team that took a month to score even just one run in the fifth inning, a five spot is otherworldly. When Pomeranz finally did take the mound, I thought it was a large enough cushion to protect against some terrible pitching and defense. I was wrong.

After getting the first out, Pomeranz walked Jonathan Villar and gave up three consecutive singles. He struck out DJ Stewart, but then walked Keon Broxton. At that point, it was 5-2 Giants and all Pomeranz had to do was get out Dwight Smith Jr., Baltimore’s eighth place hitter. He did not get him out. Smith, who would be leading the Giants in homers, hit a grand slam to make it 6-5.

Not only did the Giants fail to end the first inning with a lead for just the third time this year, they still found a way to trail at the end of it. It’s really just incredible how consistently and demonstratively they can get their foot stuck in a bucket.

Pomeranz didn’t look great in the first (and that’s putting it nicely), but the ordinarily stellar defenders didn’t help him out. Brandon Crawford made a diving stop on a play, but he tried to create a play where there was none. Then, on a single to centerfield, Steven Duggar just missed an easy play and allowed the runner at second to take third. Neither error wound up costing the Giants anything. All they caused were runners to advance when they would have scored on the grand slam regardless.

Pomeranz’s night ended after he gave up a two-run homer to Trey Mancini. His ERA now stands at 8.08 which is pretty impressive. Not even Matt Moore could reach those heights. Pomeranz has made Derek Holland look good by comparison.

There’s a non-zero chance this was his last outing as a Giant. He’s on the roster for one purpose: to establish trade value. He’s not here to help them win games, he was supposed to help them replenish the farm. Nobody is going to want a pitcher with an 8.08 ERA, and it’s not as if the Giants can’t fill out a rotation with any combination of Bumgarner, Samardzija, Rodríguez, Holland, Suárez, Beede, and Anderson.

Maybe the Giants will swap Pomeranz and Holland to see if he can regain some confidence, but I don’t really see the point of that. It would have to take a serious revival to get a contender interested in him as a reliever.

On its own, it’s hard to get upset about the signing of Pomeranz. It was a worthwhile gambit to pick him up. He seemed like a good candidate for improvement, and after the first few starts it seemed like he would get there. But he hasn’t. Over the better part of a season, he’s been wildly ineffective.

It was a low-risk, high-reward move, but it hasn’t panned out. That’s okay. They can’t all be Trevor Gotts.

The Giants may have coughed up a five-run lead, but at least Dereck Rodríguez looked good. He got swings and misses with each of his pitches even if he only struck out two in 4 2/3 innings. His curveball looked especially sharp. He ran into trouble in the fifth, but he managed to work his way out of it. Since coming back from his brief stint in Sacramento, Rodríguez has thrown 6 2/3 innings without giving up a run.

I’d say he’s ready to get back into the rotation. He couldn’t be any worse than the Giants starters were in May.