Giants drop middle game to D-backs
Correia allows five runs, including two homers, in six innings
SAN FRANCISCO -- Trying to rouse the spirits of April 15, 1958, when they began Major League Baseball on the West Coast with a victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants began their game Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks at 1:34 p.m. PT, same as they did 50 years ago."I just hope it ends up the way the first game did," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said about an hour and a half before the first pitch. But instead of reviving the past, the Giants had to confront the present. An 8-2 loss reminded them of why the D-backs are reigning National League West champions.
The D-backs not only jumped ahead on home runs by Conor Jackson and Chris Young off Kevin Correia, but they also continued padding their lead while limiting San Francisco to seven hits, including one hit through five innings."Those kids have another year of experience and can beat you in different ways," Bochy said of the D-backs. "They can beat you with the long ball or speed. They're solid." The Giants were better off contemplating the signs of hope for the future that emerged from this game. John Bowker, the only Giant ever to homer in his first two Major League games, nearly made it three in a row by tripling off the right-center-field wall in the seventh inning. Daniel Ortmeier maintained his progress as an exclusively right-handed batter by coaxing a walk from Arizona closer Brandon Lyon in an impressive ninth-inning at-bat. Kevin Correia, still striving to establish himself as a full-time starter, allowed five runs in six innings but looked mostly strong while striking out six. The Giants addressed their immediate future after the game by activating right-hander Vinnie Chulk from the disabled list -- a move that will be made official Wednesday -- and optioning right-hander Keiichi Yabu to Triple-A Fresno. Yabu looked sharp while pitching two scoreless innings and recording the decision in the Giants' 5-4 series-opening victory Monday, but he had been scored upon in four of his six outings. "He's a pretty good guy to have down there ready to be called up," Bochy said.
At the current rate, Bowker will never again have to concern himself with promotions or demotions. His ridiculous three-game statistics include a .600 batting average, a .545 on-base percentage and a 1.400 slugging percentage. The left-handed batter has struck out only once in 10 at-bats as a Giant after amassing 347 strikeouts in 1,622 Minor League at-bats entering this season.Bowker would have been more popular than gasoline at $3 per gallon if his seventh-inning drive had cleared the barrier. It struck the brick about two-thirds of the way up the wall, resulting in Bowker's first big league triple. "It felt good off the bat," said Bowker, who went 2-for-4. "The wind was kind of swirling out there. I was hoping it wouldn't knock it down." Bowker, 24, officially joined the teeming ranks of hitters whose bids for home runs have been denied by AT&T Park's expansive right-center-field dimensions.
"I've seen how much space there is in right-center field," Bowker said. "I try not to think about that and keep the same swing and same approach."That's similar to Ortmeier's philosophy as he completes his conversion from switch-hitting. Facing the right-handed Lyon, Ortmeier fell behind in the count 0-2 but fouled off four pitches -- including one off his left shin -- before drawing his free pass. "Obviously, going up against a guy like that and having a quality at-bat definitely gives you confidence and something you can build off of," Ortmeier said. The part-time first baseman reached base safely in three of four plate appearances by hustling out an infield single and walking twice.
"I think the way he's handling himself -- he's showing that this is going to work with just hitting right-handed," Bochy said.Correia, the only starter besides Tim Lincecum to last six innings or more in each of his outings, actually believed that he threw better than he did last Thursday against St. Louis, when he pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings. "In pitching, that happens sometimes," said Correia (1-2). "I think I located better. They just took advantage of a couple of mistakes." One of Correia's most glaring lapses occurred against Young, who is 3-for-8 with three homers off him. One of four D-backs position players to observe Jackie Robinson Day by wearing No. 42, Young looked more like Hank Aaron in the third inning when he drove Correia's 1-0 delivery into the left-field seats for a two-run homer that widened Arizona's lead to 3-0. "He's such a good mistake hitter," Correia said of Young, whose five homers is two short of the Giants' team total. "Every time I've made that mistake to him, he's hit it. It seems like you can get away with stuff on some other guys. Certain guys, as soon as you make that mistake, they hit the ball very well." Correia noted that the fastball Young clobbered was the first one he threw from the stretch position all afternoon.
"I didn't concentrate on getting it down, and I just left it right where he wanted it," Correia said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.