SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have been burned multiple times this season when an injured player returned to the field too soon, so it’s easy to see why they’re being so cautious with Sergio Romo, who has been sidelined since April 15. It was not easy, however, for them to feel all that good about the strategy Tuesday night.
The bullpen gave up 10 runs in a 13-11 loss to the A’s, including eight in the eighth and ninth, a home for Romo for the better part of a decade. The stunning blow was Jake Smolinski’s three-run blast off Javier Lopez in the eighth that gave the A’s a one-run lead.
Manager Bruce Bochy had Santiago Casilla, his closer, warming up, but in the past, that frame would have been Romo-Lopez territory. Lopez had retired all 10 right-handers he had faced before Smolinski, but still, Bochy has traditionally not allowed him to face many of them.
“He had two strikes and I had Casilla ready if he somehow loses (Smolinski),” Bochy said. “I didn’t see the long ball coming, to be honest. At worst, it’s a base hit. He made a mistake.”
Lopez was not alone on this night. Bochy used seven of his eight relievers after Albert Suarez pitched 5 2/3 solid innings, and four of them allowed runs. Help is not immediately on the way for a group that has struggled this season.
General manager Bobby Evans said the Giants won’t add a fresh arm when this series moves to Oakland the next two days, and Romo — who needed just 24 pitches to get through two innings for the San Jose Giants earlier Wednesday — is scheduled to pitch once more in the minors.
“If we need to speed that up, we’ll review that,” Evans said.
Romo wouldn’t be available for at least a couple days either way, and the Giants know that one right-handed arm won’t fix all their problems late in games. The trouble on Wednesday started before the eighth. George Kontos couldn’t strand two of Albert Suarez’s runners, with a Conor Gillaspie error compounding the damage.
Cory Gearrin has been a find, but he walked the first two batters he faced in the eighth before allowing a single. That was it for Gearrin, who called his night “really unacceptable.”
“I didn’t do my job tonight. You can’t give guys free passes,” Gearrin said. “Obviously you want to avoid that. You can’t give guys an opportunity to get back into the game. That’s the most disappointing part for me. You get guys 3-2 and you’re not making competitive pitches.”
The A’s took the lead with the five-run eighth and they appeared to blow the game open in the ninth. Bochy was left with Casilla and Chris Stratton, who had thrown 57 pitches on Monday. When Casilla imploded, there was no safety net. Stratton warmed up, but the Giants didn’t want to have to use him. Casilla gave up three more runs in the ninth, and they ended up mattering.
The Giants did a lot of good things Wednesday, including back-to-back homers by Jarrett Parker and Denard Span in the ninth. Brandon Crawford drove in five and was a homer short of the cycle. Gillaspie had four hits. Span had two and made a brilliant catch.
But the lineup was asked to do too much, and they couldn’t climb all the way back against Ryan Madson, who pitched two innings to close out a bizarre game.
The Giants scored 10 runs and lost for the first time in nearly six years, and the issue was clear.
“I used the bullpen like I normally do,” Bochy said. “Kontos in the sixth. Osich did a good job in the seventh. Gearrin has been the eighth inning guy but he had issues there trying to get the ball where he wanted. Lopez, he’s my late lefty obviously, and he struggled. We had our guys there.
“It was just a rough night for the ‘pen. It’s hard to give up 12 runs in the last four innings and win the ballgame.”
--- The Giants will talk to the league Wednesday to get approval to put Joe Panik on the concussion disabled list. They did not announce a corresponding move, but it won’t be top infield prospect Christian Arroyo. The Giants will have to make a 40-man roster move because Andrew Susac is the only other bat on the roster. While it was fun to see Trevor Brown play third base for the first time since college, that’s not a way to get through a week.