Kruk & Kuip: We didn't recognize this Giants team
The Blue Jays batted around in the first inning of two straight games for the first time since 1994. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
TORONTO – Take a deep breath and say it. Again and again and again.
The Giants are leaving Toronto in first place. The Giants are leaving Toronto in first place. The Giants are leaving Toronto in first place. The Giants are leaving Toronto in first place. The Giants are leaving …
Feel better? There wasn’t much else to say after the Giants arrived for a two-game series at Rogers Centre and appeared bewildered by the most basic tenets of baseball.
Tuesday’s loss, if you haven’t already blocked out the trauma, was historically bad. It was the first time in the modern era that the Giants struck out at least 15 times and allowed at least 18 hits.
Wednesday’s 11-3 loss might have been worse. Two more errors opened the gates for Toronto’s five-run first inning against Ryan Vogelsong.
Here are the scary sums from the Blue Jays’ first innings in two games against Barry Zito and Vogelsong: They sent 20 batters to the plate, scoring 11 runs (eight earned) on nine hits and four errors.
If this were a three-game series, Giants manager Bruce Bochy might have made inquiries into trading the DH for a fourth outfielder.
The Blue Jays led 8-1 after two innings and 10-1 after three.
Vogelsong was gone after just two innings – his shortest start as a Giant and his shortest in the big leagues since Sept. 24, 2004 at Pittsburgh, when he faced seven Reds batters and didn’t retire any of them.
Only three of the eight runs charged to him were earned.
Starting pitching report
Vogelsong’s outing was hard to evaluate.
On one hand, he should’ve been out of the first inning after facing just four batters. Errors by Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan made for another disastrous opening frame.
On the other hand, Vogelsong gave up plenty of hard hits. Even three of the six outs he recorded were loud line drives.
Pagan not only whiffed on J.P. Arencibia’s fly ball in center field but then let it bounce past him and go to the wall to score a pair of runs. Like Barry Zito a night ago, Vogelsong found himself in a jam he didn’t create.
He didn’t have the pitches to find his way free. Adam Lind followed the two-run error with a two-run homer when he connected on a 1-1 changeup that stayed over the plate. The Blue Jays made it 5-1 on two singles and a hit batter. It took a lineout double play to shortstop Brandon Crawford from No. 9 hitter Munenori Kawasaki for Vogelsong to escape.
The pitches didn’t get much better in the second inning, and neither did the defense.
Hunter Pence, who owns more bad reads in this series than a dime-shop bookstore, took a step in before Melky Cabrera’s double went over his head to start the second inning. Then Scutaro couldn’t knock down Bautista’s RBI single.
Arencibia connected for a two-run home run when Vogelsong’s 0-1 fastball started outside and ran back toward the middle.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy made a mound visit in the second inning without pulling Vogelsong, in the hopes the right-hander could go a little further to spare the bullpen. But the right-hander didn’t return in the third.
Chad Gaudin wasn’t perfect, but he lasted 72 pitches over 3 1/3 innings as Bochy worked his relievers from back to front. Gaudin also got a rise out of the crowd when he struck Brett Lawrie with a pitch just after Lawrie had called timeout while the right-hander was about to start his windup.
Tensions never escalated, though. Let that stand as a credit to both teams.
The Giants might be without only Gaudin’s services in the bullpen Thursday at Coors Field. That’s because Jose Mijares threw 17 of 22 pitches for strikes in 1 2/3 innings. Javier Lopez needed just 12 pitches to get through the eighth.
At the plate
The offense was but the getaway driver in this convenience store robbery gone wrong, but it’s worth pointing out that spot starter Ramon Ortiz had his most effective outing in more than a half-decade.
Despite striking out just one over seven innings with stuff that was less than overpowering, he didn’t give up a run after Angel Pagan doubled to start the game and advanced on a pair of sacrifices.
Scutaro assuredly was bunting on his own when he moved Pagan to third base – a questionable decision, given Vogelsong’s struggles and the fact that Ortiz is hardly an ace. And besides, Scutaro was hitting .491 over a 13-game hitting streak.
That streak is the one thing that will emerge intact from Toronto. It looked to be over when Scutaro walked in the eighth, but the Giants got enough traffic to give him another chance in the ninth, and he flared a single to right field.
Scutaro did not manage to extend his streak of multi-hit games, however. It ended at seven -- one short of matching the longest by a Giant since Hall of Famer Bill Terry in 1934.
At least the Giants didn’t foul up the first play of the game, as Pablo Sandoval did Tuesday night. No, they waited till the second batter, when Scutaro dropped Jose Bautista’s pop-up in shallow right field.
Pagan’s error was even more damaging.
The misplays didn’t end there. But at least Pence was able to take an early exit from foreign turf. He had played all 357 1/3 defensive innings in right field this season before Andres Torres replaced him in the sixth.
The Giants weren’t the only team that had trouble with the turf. Cabrera tripped as he let Angel Pagan’s charitably scored double take a high bounce over his head. (It’s not like the Blue Jays have any huge advantage here, by the way. They were 7-12 at home before this series began.)
Even in a game only Medusa could love, Crawford still managed to make a tremendous play. With his bare hand, he gathered up a ball that deflected off Lopez and made an off-balance throw to first base to record an out.
A paid crowd of 32,863 watched the Blue Jays bat around in the first inning for a second consecutive day – something they hadn’t done since April 10-11, 1994. (Otherwise known as the Mike Huff Era.) Randy Johnson was one of the pitchers the Jays smacked around back then, if it makes you feel any better.
The Giants don’t have much time to flush one of the worst series in franchise history. After arriving in Denver early Thursday morning, they begin a four-game series Thursday night against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Matt Cain (2-2, 5.04), who skipped the Toronto trip so he wouldn’t have to adjust his body clock, will start against right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (3-2. 2.70). First pitch is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. PDT.