LOS ANGELES -- After watching the Giants continue to handle the ball as if it were a beehive, manager Bruce Bochy made a remark that stung."I don't think I've quite seen what I saw tonight," Bochy said after San Francisco committed three errors Monday night and fell, 9-1, to the Los Angeles Dodgers. "It looked like we skipped Spring Training." Though the Giants increased their Major League-high error total to 33, only one of Los Angeles' runs was unearned. But that's unimportant. What matters is that a Major League club should look like a Major League club. Instead, the gulf between the first-place Dodgers and the second-place Giants seemed much wider than the National League West standings entering Monday indicated. Left-hander Barry Zito pointed out that the Giants are hurting right now -- if not literally, including the likes of Brian Wilson and Pablo Sandoval, then figuratively, due to the absence of key players. An example of the latter is right-hander Guillermo Mota, a reliable figure in the bullpen and an overlooked leader in the clubhouse, who received a 100-game suspension Monday for violating baseball's performance-enhancing drug policy.
"We're pretty beat up right now," said Zito (1-1), who worked six innings and stranded eight Dodgers while yielding three runs. "We're just sustaining blow after blow."That's how the errors came. Not in clusters or combinations, but one at a time, each impeding the Giants' efforts before grinding their game to halt. After the Giants forged a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning on Joaquin Arias' RBI single, his second of three hits, Los Angeles scored twice in its half of the inning, abetted partially by third baseman Conor Gillaspie's throwing error on a bunt. One inning later, with the score still 3-1, Juan Rivera's sharp comebacker knocked reliever Steve Edlefsen's glove off his hand. Edlefsen alertly recovered the ball but fired it past third base as Matt Kemp charged in that direction. Edlefsen's miscue enabled Kemp to score. Buster Posey, stationed at first base for the sixth time this season, was charged with the final error in Los Angeles' five-run eighth inning. Bochy knows that various Giants are playing out of position, such as Posey, or remain inexperienced, such as Gillaspie and Edlefsen.
"You know there's going to be some growing pains," Bochy said. "But there's more [mistakes] than what there should be."Asked if he would respond by installing the Giants' best defenders in Tuesday night's lineup, Bochy said he and his coaching staff began discussing that issue immediately after the game ended.
Said Bochy, "That's what we have to decide -- what is our best defense?" But, he added, "You still have to score runs, too."That will be a difficult task against Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner who's scheduled to start Tuesday. Bochy might still load the lineup with right-handed batters, as he did Monday against Dodgers starter Ted Lilly, another left-hander. Lilly didn't seem to care whom he faced, as he surrendered four measly singles and San Francisco's lone run in his sixth and final inning. The game remained competitive while Lilly and Zito remained on the mound.
"Zito was throwing the ball well and changing speeds," Lilly said. "Once he can mix in his other pitches for strikes, he can be tough."The Giants actually threatened Los Angeles as late as the eighth inning, but met with frustration. Dodgers first baseman James Loney, who entered the game in the seventh as a pinch-hitter, dove to snare Hector Sanchez's sharp grounder with runners on second and third and two out, then flipped the ball to reliever Josh Lindblom for the out. "He made a great play there. If that ball gets away, it's two runs in and the tying run on second and it would have turned the whole game around," Bochy said. Instead, he concluded, "Our wheels just came off. it's happened a few times."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.