Kruk & Kuip: 'The Giants took one on the chin'
Barry Zito allowed three home runs and was pulled following a leadoff walk in the third inning Sunday in San Diego. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN DIEGO – They say momentum is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher.
And if the next day’s pitcher is Barry Zito on the road … well, good luck with that.
One day after Bruce Bochy let Tim Lincecum throw 148 pitches in a most memorable no-hitter, the Giants’ manager decided he’d seen enough after just 41 offerings from Zito.
The San Diego Padres hit home runs on three of those pitches, Zito scampered off the mound following a leadoff walk in the third inning, and he’ll head into the All-Star break winless with a 9.89 ERA in eight road starts after the Giants lost 10-1 at Petco Park Sunday afternoon.
Tasked with a lot of mop-up work, the Giants bullpen slipped on a wet floor. The Padres scored four runs in the third inning to break open a 3-1 game, then Carlos Quentin crushed a two-run home run off George Kontos in the fifth.
After taking three of four in San Diego, the Giants are 43-51 – the first time they’ll enter the All-Star break with a losing record since 2008, when they were 40-55 at the midsummer classic. They remained 6 ½ games behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks, and in fourth place in the NL West.
Starting pitching report
Zito threw 107 fewer pitches than Lincecum did the night before.
He served up a home run to Chris Denorfia in the first inning, and was fortunate to have picked Everth Cabrera off first base just prior to the shot. Then Nick Hundley and Will Venable, the Padres’ Nos. 7-8 hitters, connected for back-to-back shots in the second inning.
When Cabrera walked to start the third, Bochy brought out the same quick, Vaudeville hook that he used on Matt Cain in the first inning last Wednesday against the Mets.
It’s kind of nutty to think that over the last five days, Giants starting pitchers have had outings of 36, 41 and 148 pitches.
You couldn’t blame Bochy for wanting to get Zito (4-7) out of the game. Not only has be been non-competitive away from AT&T Park, but the Giants are 0-8 in his road starts. It’s not like he’s had similar struggles at home; despite coming off a mediocre start last Tuesday, he is 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 11 home assignments.
One problem: Left-handed hitters are crushing him for a .387 average, the highest in the National League.
Bochy had a well rested bullpen and the All-Star break looming, so he had no reason to avoid running through his relievers.
Jake Dunning and Javier Lopez allowed six of eight batters to reach after Zito’s departure, and Kontos, who returned from his three-game suspension, allowed his sixth home run after giving up just three last season.
At least Santiago Casilla, who had surgery to remove a bone cyst near his knee, made his first appearance since May 20 and worked around a soft single in a scoreless sixth inning. Jeremy Affeldt followed by throwing nine of 12 pitches for strikes in a 1-2-3 seventh. That was a positive development for the Giants, who will need both setup men to be in top form in the second half.
At the plate
The Giants got off to a racing start against left-hander Eric Stults, as Andres Torres pumped his little sprinter’s arms on a leadoff triple. Marco Scutaro plated him with a single.
Two batters into the game, and that’s all she wrote. Stults has been the Padres’ best pitcher and he did enough to keep the Giants off balance through the seventh.
Jeff Francoeur whistled a single to right field in his first at-bat as a Giant but he grounded out to strand two runners in the third. He also lined out and flied out.
One other good sign: Pablo Sandoval has drawn a walk in five of his last six games.
Francoeur’s arm. As advertised. It was just a routine throw to the plate and the runner wasn’t going from third, but … yep. He can wing it.
The Padres announced 33,243 paid. All six actual Padres fans had to be insufferable to deal with.
The Giants’ coaching staff took one small, private jet to New York for the All-Star Game. Buster Posey, Marco Scutaro, Madison Bumgarner, Sergio Romo and the Padres’ Everth Cabrera took another. Everyone else headed off for a few days of rest and relaxation. They’ll reconvene Friday at AT&T Park to begin the unofficial second half with a 10-game homestand against the Diamondbacks, Reds and Cubs.
(Or is it a nine-game homestand plus one road game, since Cincinnati will be the home team in a makeup game July 23?)