PHILADELPHIA — Will Smith flew from San Diego to Philadelphia on Tuesday, arriving at the ballpark around 90 minutes before first pitch.
“I shook hands and tried to remember as many faces and names as I could,” the newest Giants reliever said.
He had just enough time to say hello to Buster Posey and shake his catcher’s hand. Four hours later, Smith and Posey met on the mound, having a long discussion before the start of the eighth. Their first inning together didn’t go as planned, with Smith giving up two hits that turned into two runs in the five-run eighth inning of a 13-8 loss to the Phillies.
“That’s not an excuse by any means,” Smith said of his long travel day. “I told them I was ready.”
The Giants hope that Smith, a versatile left-hander acquired Monday morning, is a piece that helps their bullpen find consistency. The group has been much better in the second half, but the first night of a three-city road trip was a nightmare. Madison Bumgarner was charged with eight runs -- four unearned -- but the Giants fought back, taking the lead at one point. The game was tied going into the eighth, but Smith gave up an infield single and a double. Sergio Romo entered and a bouncer up the middle scored two runs. A three-run homer to right just about ended the night.
“Our strength is our pitching and bullpen,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That’s what wins games for you, your bullpen late. They’ve been doing a good job. Tonight, it just got away from us.”
The night slipped through Bumgarner’s grasp early. He never had his trademark command, and the Phillies went up 6-0 on a pair of homers.
“Just chalk it up to an off night,” Bochy said. “He’s human, and he had trouble getting the ball where he wanted. The command wasn’t quite there and he just made a lot more mistakes than we’re accustomed to.”
Bumgarner said he knows himself well enough to try and get out of those ruts during a game. But he couldn’t do it. The Giants tied the game on two hits by Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt’s three-run blast, and they took a lead when Angel Pagan homered. But Bumgarner walked the leadoff batter in the sixth and his night was done.
“I didn’t make a whole lot of good pitches,” Bumgarner said. I had a hard time putting guys away … I got out there and I just wasn’t making good pitches. An aggressive team like that, guys are ready to swing the bat, and that usually works in their favor. It wasn’t all bad, but when it was, they capitalized.”
The Giants learned during a series at AT&T Park that these young Phillies are aggressive, and it didn’t stop once Bumgarner was out of the game. Romo was the final one to feel the pain, with Cameron Rupp smashing a shot the opposite way. The rally clinched a loss for Smith in his Giants debut, but he said he’s thrilled to be here.
“It should be fun,” he said. “I’m just ready to get back on track.”
So are the Giants, and they’re hoping the new guys help.
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