Giants Change Strategy in ‘September Baseball'-type Loss to Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- When the Giants claimed left-hander Wandy Peralta from the Reds on Saturday, they announced that he would join the team back in San Francisco. But Peralta showed up in the Dodger Stadium clubhouse Sunday morning, so there he was in the seventh inning, summoned from the bullpen with a couple of left-handers coming up for the Dodgers. 

Welcome to September baseball.

The Giants suited up 13 relievers Sunday and had a fully stocked bench, which led to a unique sequence for manager Bruce Bochy, who is three weeks from the end of his tenure. The Giants knew Dodgers lefty Julio Urias only had about 50 pitches in him, so Bochy started right-handed-hitters Donovan Solano at second and Austin Slater at first but told his Brandons to be ready. When right-hander Kenta Maeda took over in the third, Crawford pinch-hit for Solano and Belt hit for Slater. 

It didn't work. Both made outs and neither had a hit the rest of the way. Nothing worked, really. The Giants lost 5-0 in a game that would make anyone wish for a return to August and 25-man rosters. The Dodgers used six pitchers; Bochy countered with Dereck Rodriguez and four relievers who joined the club when rosters expanded. The strangest part came in that third, when two longtime members of the core entered to face the man who followed The Opener. 

"I told both Belt and Crawford that (others) are going to start the game but (Urias) is probably going 50 pitches, so be ready," Bochy said. "That was the plan. You have to be (ready). It's September baseball. It might be a little tougher on the hitters. They're getting a different look. Maeda, we just couldn't do anything against him."

The Dodgers felt the same about Rodriguez early. He struck out the side in the first and didn't allow a hit until the fourth, when Matt Beaty took him deep. Corey Seager hit a three-run homer an inning later. Rodriguez allowed just three hits but gave up five runs, three of which were unearned because of a Mauricio Dubon error. 

"I feel more frustrated than probably any other outing," Rodriguez said. "I felt good, was throwing the ball well. The one to Beaty was right in the middle but the one to Seager was down and he put a good swing on it."

Rodriguez himself is another example of how the game has changed. A rotation anchor last season, he heard this offseason that the Giants hoped to start him in Triple-A. That didn't end up happening, but Rodriguez still has bounced back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen and the big leagues to Triple-A. That's baseball in 2019. 

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The end result is that Rodriguez has never found his rhythm. He has a 5.09 ERA but said he hopes to finish his sophomore year on a high note. 

"I feel like I've learned more this year than I did last year," he said. "Last year I felt I could close my eyes and throw the ball where I wanted. This year it's the complete opposite. I feel I've learned more about baseball this year than in my whole life."

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