LOS ANGELES — The Giants didn’t have many holes as they broke camp two weeks ago, but you didn’t have to look hard to see a potential depth problem in the infield. The starters are all young and potential All-Stars, but a collection of veteran non-roster invitees failed to impress, leaving the backup jobs to two young middle infielders.
When Ehire Adrianza fractured his foot Thursday, manager Bruce Bochy was left with just rookie Kelby Tomlinson. The first night in the spotlight wasn’t kind to Tomlinson, who was filling in because Brandon Crawford has a tight hip.
Tomlinson made two errors and failed to record a sure out on a third play. Throw in a Joe Panik error and Enrique Hernandez’s huge night against Madison Bumgarner and you have the recipe for a sloppy 7-3 loss to Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers.
“We just didn’t play a clean game,” Bochy said. “That would’ve helped matters. That’s uncharacteristic for us. We’re pretty good at catching the ball, and we had a tough time tonight.”
The deciding inning was the fourth, when Tomlinson booted a double-play ball for the second time in a week and Panik made an error on a flip to second. Bochy said he does not think Tomlinson is rushing in big spots.
“He’s got to put this behind him,” he said. “That’s what young players have to deal with. He’ll get adjusted to not playing every day. It’s not easy.”
Adrianza found that out the hard way, and it wasn’t until this month that he truly looked comfortable as a role player. Now he’s out six to eight weeks and the Giants are in a tough spot. Crawford expects to be back Saturday, but there’s little on the horizon if he needs another day or two at some point. There isn’t an infielder on the 40-man roster who isn’t already in the big leagues, so on Friday the Giants replaced Adrianza with power-hitting outfielder Mac Williamson and had Trevor Brown start taking grounders.
It's hard to add veteran depth this far from the deadline. The best option long-term should be Christian Arroyo, but he’s only 20 and only a couple weeks into his Double-A career, and the Giants won’t rush him just to sit on the bench. It’s a difficult role for a young player, and it will continue to belong to Tomlinson, with no safety net beyond the current cast. The Giants remain confident that one of their September stars can put this slow start behind him.
“When a guy makes an error nobody feels worse than him,” Bochy said. “He’s not trying to. You’ve got to stay behind him. They’re trying hard, maybe too hard out there. It’s a tough role but he’ll be fine.”
--- Tim Lincecum had Paul Goldschmidt … every Giants pitcher has Nolan Arenado … Bumgarner has Hernandez. The Rally Banana hit two monster homers and a crushing double off Bumgarner, improving to 10-for-16 with three homers and four doubles in their matchups. Per MLB.com, he has the three hardest-hit balls against Bumgarner this season.
Bumgarner said there won’t be extra film study after this one. “He’s just seeing the ball really (well),” Bumgarner said. “I just need to make better pitches.”
Bumgarner is a perfectionist, and he’s also one of the most competitive human beings you’ll ever meet. He’ll be very, very eager to turn the tables here, and his next start against Hernandez should be fascinating.
--- The night wasn’t a complete loss. Derek Law entered in the seventh and simply blew the Dodgers away. Bochy put him in a big spot against the heart of the lineup in front of 50,000 — “this (park) is not an easy place to break in,” Bochy said — and Law struck out three around a triple.
“I don’t think I can ask for much more,” a beaming Law said an hour later.
Law didn’t seem to notice that he struck out Adrian Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick. “I try to treat them all the same regardless of what level,” he said. It was impossible not to notice, though, that he turned back toward Justin Turner as he walked off the field. Turner tripled and broke a third of the way down the line as Law came set on a pitch.
“I think I got caught up in the Giants-Dodgers rivalry a little bit,” Law said.
Between the strikeouts and that walk-off, it’s hard to picture a rookie doing more to ingratiate himself with Giants fans in just one inning.
--- George Kontos is fine, and he pitched an inning tonight. He keeps himself in great shape and is as durable as any reliever, but it’s worth asking: What’s the point of having a 13-man staff if you’re going to put one guy in there seven times in the first 11 games? That seems to be playing with fire.
--- I drove across town in the afternoon, so I was somewhat surprised that Mac Williamson — who had a 5 p.m. flight out of Sacramento — made it through traffic in time to pinch-hit against Kershaw. Williamson had a good at-bat, and later said the day was crazier than it seemed from the outside. His day started in Las Vegas with the River Cats, and he didn’t arrive at Dodger Stadium until the fifth inning.
Oh, and along the way he stopped to sign his lease in Sacramento. His roommates: Clayton Blackburn and Derek Law. So … Blackburn, thanks to two roster moves in a span of a few hours, is now living by himself.
“There may be a lot of Facetime,” Law said.
Blackburn had other ideas. If he gets called up at some point the rest of the River Cats are going to fight each other to sign that lease.