New year, same San Francisco Giants. After leading the league with 30 blown saves in 2016, the Giants bullpen wasted no time trying to top themselves in 2017.
In their first two chances to hold onto a lead, Giants relievers reverted back to their old ways. After a solid start by Madison Bumgarner, in which he became the first pitcher to hit two home runs on opening day, the Giants bullpen was tasked with holding a 4-3 lead against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the eighth inning.
Derek Law was called upon to pick up the hold, and immediately got into trouble. Law gave up a single to A.J. Pollock to kick off the inning. That was followed up by a single by Chris Owings. With Pollock now on second, Paul Goldschmidt delivered the game-tying hit. His single to the left side scored Pollock, officially giving the Giants their first blown save of 2017.
At that point, manager Bruce Bochy took Law out of the game. Ty Blach was able to induce a double-play, picking up the first two outs of the inning. With a man on third, Hunter Strickland got Yasmany Tomas on a weak ground out to the mound. The Giants were able to get out of the inning without giving up any additional runs, but the damage was done.
The entire sequence was all too familiar for fans who watched the Giants last season. This time around, however, their anguish was short-lived. Joe Panik tripled to open the top of the ninth, and was driven home on a sacrifice fly.
With the score now 5-4 Giants, the team once again had to hold a one-run lead. This time around, though, they brought in their newest weapon. All-Star closer Mark Melancon, who the Giants paid $62 million this winter, got the call in the bottom of the ninth.
He performed as if he spent the offseason watching Giants highlights from 2016. After a strikeout and groundout to open the inning, Melancon couldn’t close the door. With two outs, Jeff Mathis doubled. He was driven in on a single by Daniel Descalso. With the game tied, Pollock singled on a weak ground ball on the middle. Descalso advanced to third on the play.
That brought Owings to the plate. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Owings hit a shallow line drive in right field, scoring Mathis from third and giving the Diamondbacks the walk-off win. In Game 1 of the 2017 season, the Giants blew two saves.
— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) April 2, 2017
It’s just one game, of course, so there’s no reason to overreact. And if you’re trying to be an optimist, a few of the balls hit off Melancon were pretty weak.
Still, that’s hardly a consolation for the fans who had to suffer through the team’s late inning woes last year. While they’ve come to expect that from the usual suspects, Melancon getting saddled with the blown save and the loss was a cruel twist of fate by the baseball gods.
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