PHOENIX – How did the Giants’ first experience go with the replay challenge procedure?
Let’s just say they’d like a do-over.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy challenged a pickoff play in the fourth inning and lost when the official in New York determined there was not conclusive video evidence to overturn the call. The Giants lost the right to challenge again, and that just plain stunk later in the fourth when Matt Cain appeared – conclusively appeared – to tag A.J. Pollock’s shoe a few inches in front of the plate.
Because it happened prior to the seventh inning, umpires could not use their own discretion to review the play. And while Pollock’s run only cut into the Giants’ lead, it ended up making a huge difference as the Giants lost 5-4 to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
Starting pitching report
Matt Cain sweated through 99 pitches and that only got him through five innings. His delivery often came unglued. And the Giants’ unsavory experience with the replay rules cost him a run.
Yet somehow Cain managed to keep the Giants in the game, even leaving with a 4-3 lead when he was lifted as part of a double-switch in the sixth.
Cain appeared to deal with the same mechanical inconsistencies that he fought to correct in the second half of spring training. The Diamondbacks scored a pair of runs in the first inning and Cain needed a double-play grounder from Mark Trumbo to escape further damage. He pitched through more traffic in the second inning, benefiting from a forceout at third base after Arizona pitcher Wade Miley pulled back a bunt attempt and slapped a grounder to the left side.
Then came the fourth, when Cain tossed a few warmups during a three-plus minute replay challenge delay, then threw a first pitch that Gerardo Parra laced for a double. Cain would have escaped that inning without a blemish, too, but the Giants couldn’t challenge plate umpire Eric Cooper’s safe call after Cain appeared to tag Pollock’s shoe in front of the plate following a passed ball.
If health is an issue for Cain, the radar gun holds no evidence. He hit 93 mph on consecutive pitches in the fourth.
Through two games, the Giants have received just nine innings from Madison Bumgarner and Cain. Good thing they chose to begin the season with a pair of long relievers.
Juan Gutierrez’s Giants debut resulted in a blown lead and a loss. The Diamondbacks scored the tying and go-ahead runs on three consecutive hits, a stolen base and Parra’s sacrifice fly. Pollock’s RBI double was the key stroke.
At the plate
Brandon Belt became the first Giant since 2003 (Benito Santiago and Ray Durham) to homer in each of the team’s first two games. That’s a mild surprise because Belt didn’t homer and hit just .222 in 54 spring at-bats.
His three-run shot off Miley landed in the pool party area beyond the right field fence – no, it did not clank off the heads of any partying Dodgers – and gave the Giants a 4-0 lead in the first inning.
But the Giants did not keep up the pressure on Miley, who retired the next 15 batters. The Giants didn’t get another hit until Belt singled in the seventh, and they were unable to tag Arizona closer Addison Reed for a second consecutive night.
They got a stroke of luck when Hector Sanchez’s fly ball to shallow left field eluded shortstop Chris Owings for a double, but pinch runner Ehire Adrianza got no closer to scoring the tying run. Brandon Crawford fouled out and Juan Perez struck out looking to end it.
Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill provided a world-class tease when he let Angel Pagan’s pop-up squirt out of his glove, then caught it with his bare hand to end the seventh inning and strand two runners.
The Diamondbacks announced 18,971 paid. That’s a drop of 29,570 from their home opener a night earlier. I blame the corn dog.
The Giants and Diamondbacks continue their four-game series Wednesday night. Tim Hudson makes his Giants debut against right-hander Trevor Cahill (0-1, 11.25 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. PDT.