‘Exciting’ Easter Sunday quickly goes to hell for SF Giants vs. Padres

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SAN DIEGO — Sunday began with Bob Melvin calling it “an exciting day for us and an exciting day for him,” referring to the Giants’ starting pitcher, Daulton Jefferies, who was set to make his return to the mound following a long road back from multiple surgeries on his pitching arm.
Before long, that excitement had faded into agony as the Giants’ Easter Sunday turned into a day from hell.
In a 13-4 loss to split the four-game set with the Padres, Jefferies received a rude welcome back to the big leagues, surrendering nine runs (five earned) and a pair of homers. The onslaught continued against his replacement, Kai-Wei Teng, who needed 40 pitches to complete his first inning in the majors before recovering to make it through three frames.
“It was a tough day, a weird game all around,” Melvin said afterward.
To add, well, injury to insult, the Giants also lost one of their most beloved and important players when Wilmer Flores injured his throwing shoulder tumbling over the railing of the first-base dugout on the Padres’ second batter of the game. He was diagnosed with a right shoulder contusion, but Melvin said afterward that Flores had avoided any significant injuries.
After rollicking the past two games, a blowout loss dealt a blow to whatever momentum had been built heading into a big series at Dodger Stadium and with another three games against the Padres on deck when the Giants return home.
The good news is the Giants shouldn’t have to wait long for reinforcements for their starting rotation. Blake Snell went four innings in a minor-league game Friday, and if he’s ready to step into the rotation for his next turn — which lines up for the series finale Wednesday in Los Angeles — San Francisco wouldn’t need another spot start.
After impressing with his strike-throwing in spring training, limiting opponents to a 2.25 ERA with a 15:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio, it was decided before the Giants left for San Diego that Jefferies would start their fourth game of the season, though he was only added to the roster before first pitch. (In a corresponding move, former No. 2 overall draft pick Joey Bart was designated for assignment, bringing an end to his tenure with the organization.)
A fellow Cal product, Melvin said he played the Golden Bears fight song for Jefferies when he informed him he made the roster. The two go back to their days in Oakland, where Melvin managed Jefferies as an up-and-coming prospect before his career was sidetracked by two Tommy John surgeries and thoracic outlet syndrome.
Jefferies had no trouble finding the plate, but Padres hitters — and his own defense — repeatedly punished him.
The Padres plated five runs while bringing eight men to the plate in the first inning, capped off by a three-run homer from Luis Campusano, but only one run was charged to Jefferies. Rookie shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald, making his first of the season in place of Nick Ahmed, booted the first ball off a Padre’s bat, allowing leadoff hitter Xander Bogaerts to reach base on a fielding error and prolonging the inning to bring Campusano to the plate.
“You go all offseason preparing for the first game of the year, and I just kind of let the game speed up on me,” said Fitzgerald, whose day was far from over. “Hopefully I can learn from that and calm my emotions and just get ready for the next game.”
All four of the Padres’ runs in the second inning were earned, with Ha-Seong Kim launching another three-run shot into an open window in the Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field that extended San Diego’s lead to 9-0.
Kim turned on a middle-in changeup and left no doubt, while Campusano lifted a fastball that just cleared the short porch in right field, 329 feet away. Both home runs came on the first pitch of the at-bat.
While Jefferies said he was “happy to get back on the mound, for sure, at the end of the day, I didn’t really do my job. … I could feel good all I want about getting back here, but when I got back here I wanted to compete and help the team win. I just didn’t do that today. … Welcome back to the big leagues.”
The Padres’ starter, Michael King, was equally ineffective, issuing seven walks over four innings, but the Giants failed to capitalize.
With a rally brewing in the fourth, the Giants had two runs in and two men on base with one out when Jorge Soler popped a pitch into shallow left field. Kim, the shortstop, backpedaled but missed the ball, allowing it to fall to the grass, about 40 feet beyond the cut of the dirt.
Rather than ruling it an error or a base hit, the second base umpire, Adam Hamari, called an infield fly. The Giants runners advanced to second and third, but Soler was ruled out for the second out of the inning, and the threat was extinguished a batter later when LaMonte Wade Jr. was called out on strikes.
In his first spat with an umpire from the Giants’ bench, Melvin voraciously protested the call to no avail.
“It was in the outfield when it was dropped,” Melvin said of his argument. “It wasn’t a routine play.”
The rout ended with the first position player to pitch for the Giants this season, Fitzgerald’s reward for his error in the field and hat trick at the plate.
While Fitzgerald has earned the reputation for playing anywhere, even beginning to pick up first base, pitching was something new for him. He hadn’t stepped onto a mound since his freshman year at Rochester High School in Illinois. It didn’t come with much notice, only told of the plan when he returned to the dugout after his at-bat in the top half of the inning.
“He asked me, ‘Have you pitched before?’ I said, ‘No, but I can do it,’” Fitzgerald said.
He retired the side on 11 pitches, one of the Giants’ quickest innings of the afternoon.
“We’ve been out there on defense long enough today,” he said. “Just get off the field as fast as possible.”
Notable
Teng made history when he stepped onto the mound to begin the third inning, becoming the only active Taiwanese player in the majors — the 17th all-time — and the first ever in Giants history. While he was tagged for three runs on three walks and a pair of hits in his 40-pitch first inning, he settled in to retire six of the next seven hitters he faced while recording four strikeouts.
Growing up in Taiwan, an island nation southwest of Japan, Teng’s favorite pitcher was Yu Darvish, and he got to meet the Padres starter this series.
More than that, Darvish gifted Teng one of his gloves, a natural leather Asics mitt with teal accents embroidered with Darvish’s signature.
“That was the most meaningful moment in my baseball life so far,” Teng said in Mandarin through interpreter Matt Chan. “The first day, our bullpen catcher introduced Darvish to me because they know each other. He told Darvish this is my debut, and he said this year is going to be a really big year for you. This glove shows that I’ll be rooting for you.”
Up next
The Giants head up the coast for a three-game series at Dodger Stadium to close out their opening road trip. Keaton Winn is scheduled to start Monday against left-hander James Paxton, though he isn’t expected to go longer than five innings as he continues to build up his workload after being sidelined to start spring training.

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