Giants observations: Bullpen game flops in frustrating loss to Diamondbacks
What we learned as bullpen game flops in Giants' loss to D-backs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO -- A surprising bullpen game didn't go according to plan for the Giants.
The Giants started an opener and activated lefty Alex Wood on Friday, but they didn't end up using their No. 4 starter until they were already down late in the game. Before Wood, Ross Stripling and Jakob Junis both took the mound, and all three veterans gave up runs as the Giants lost 7-5 to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The home plate umpire was Alfonso Marquez, who was behind the plate when the Giants and San Diego Padres combined for 11 homers on the first day in Mexico City. Early on Friday, the game had similar vibes.
Joc Pederson hit a 112-mph screamer into the seats in the first inning, and Michael Conforto made it 3-0 with a long homer in the second.
But the Diamondbacks struck back with a blast of their own. Stripling took over for opener John Brebbia in the bottom of the second and rookie Dominic Fletcher crushed a hanging slider for a three-run shot. Evan Longoria's first homer against his former team gave the Diamondbacks the lead.
Arizona extended the advantage to three runs heading into the eight, but the Giants got a run back on Casey Schmitt's double, his ninth hit in four games. They had two runners in scoring position with one out, but Wilmer Flores grounded out and Bryce Johnson struck out.
Michael Conforto fouled off six two-strike pitches in his first at-bat before blasting a changeup onto the pool deck in Chase Field. The homer was his sixth of the year, and might have come in his best at-bat as a Giant. Conforto saw 12 pitches in the at-bat.
"That's a slump buster," Mike Krukow said as Conforto circled the bases.
The Giants certainly hope so. Conforto entered the day with a .168 batting average and an OPS+ that put him 27 points below league average as a hitter.
There's been a lot of swing-and-miss for Conforto so far, but there are some positive signs in the profile, as well. Conforto ranks in the 92nd percentile in walk rate and 89th percentile in hard-hit rate.
Ross Roughed Up
When the Giants announced that Brebbia would start and Wood was coming off the IL, it seemed that they would try and get a scoreless first inning out of their opener and then turn it over to Wood. The Diamondbacks surely felt that way, as they loaded up on righties.
Instead, it was Stripling who came out of the bullpen first, and he continued to have issues with the long ball. Stripling gave up the tying homer in his first inning and then allowed Longoria's go-ahead bomb an inning later. He was charged with four earned in 3 1/3 relief innings.
Stripling has now allowed 10 homers in 29 innings this year. He's just two away from tying his total in 134 1/3 innings with the Toronto Blue Jays last year.
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Wood did come on in the seventh, pitching just one inning and allowing a run on three hits and a walk. It ended up being a bullpen session for his next start, which will come Monday against the Philadelphia Phillies.
LaMonte Wade Jr. entered the night ranked third in the majors in on-base percentage, and he kept adding on. Wade singled twice and also had a double, raising his OBP to .437 and his OPS to .970.
The third hit might have been the most impressive. Wade went the other way on a slider from lefty Kyle Nelson, slicing a single into left. It was his sixth hit already off a lefty, which is just two away from his career total coming into the season.
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