SAN DIEGO — The Giants headed for Boston with the best record in baseball, but the long trip will not be one of their so-called “happy flights.”
Not when they just got swept by the Padres. Not when the sweep happened with Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto pitching. And not when the final game featured journeyman Edwin Jackson aiming for a no-hitter in his Padres debut.
“It was a rough series,” manager Bruce Bochy said in a silent clubhouse. “We’ll reboot. We’ll reset.”
They had better do so in a hurry, because this weekend was supposed to be the easy part of a three-city trip. Big leaguers will never admit to thinking that, but the Giants entered Petco Park with a 9-0 record against the Padres. Before the first game of the series, San Diego dealt Drew Pomeranz, the team ace, to Boston. The Giants faced struggling right-hander Andrew Cashner, former Rule 5 draft pick Luis Perdomo, and Jackson, who was starting for his ninth team. It didn’t matter.
The bats went mostly silent and the three top starters had their roughest series since being put together in the offseason. Combined, Bumgarner, Samardzija and Cueto pitched just 16 innings and gave up 13 runs. Each of them allowed a pair of homers.
“That’s uncommon for us, to give up the long ball like we did here,” Bochy said.
Cueto allowed just six homers in the first half, with the Giants losing only two of his first 18 starts. But he was taken deep twice in the second inning of the All-Star Game on Tuesday and Matt Kemp and Christian Bethancourt did it in a span of four batters Sunday.
“I’m ready to go,” a smiling Cueto said through interpreter Erwin Higueros when asked about his week in San Diego.
His time at Petco Park wasn’t just rough on the mound. Cueto has been sick all week, and he woke up Sunday with soreness in his left ribcage. Cueto was stretched out and said he didn’t feel discomfort during the start, but from the bench, Bochy saw a different pitcher.
“He wasn’t full strength,” he said. “That’s why we wanted to cover him.”
Jake Peavy sat in the bullpen for the first four innings just in case Cueto needed to be pulled early. When the first two batters of the sixth reached, Bochy went to his bullpen. Both runners scored anyway.
“Unfortunately we cashed in his runs,” Bochy said.
Jackson was cruising on the other side, aiming for his second strange no-hitter. He once walked eight while no-hitting the Rays, and he gave up five free passes on this day. Two other Giants reached on errors.
Still, the Giants had just two hits and Jackson allowed just one. It was a big one, a loud three-run pinch-hit job by Conor Gillaspie that got the Giants within one in the seventh.
“We just couldn’t finish the deal,” Bochy said. “We had the right guys up there with a couple guys on base. We just couldn’t get it done.”
The two batters after Gillaspie reached on walks. But Angel Pagan flied out and Brandon Belt struck out. The five regular starters in the lineup went 0-for-18. Ramiro Pena’s broken-bat single was the only hit after Gillaspie’s.
The road doesn’t get any easier. The Red Sox are the only big league team that has scored 500 runs, and while the Giants missed Pomeranz in San Diego, he’ll make his Red Sox debut Wednesday. The first game of the series features Rick Porcello, who is 11-2.
“We know (how tough they are). We’ve played them already,” Bochy said. “It’s a good club and they’re swinging it well … We’ll see if we can reset and get the bats going.”