Jakob Junis sharp, bats go quiet in loss to Athletics

What we learned as Giants suffers first shutout loss from 2022 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO — Before Wednesday’s game, Giants manager Gabe Kapler looked back at the last couple of weeks and said he felt his players were in a surprisingly good spot, all things considered.

The Giants went 8-3 on a four-city, 11-day road trip even as injuries started to pile up, and there was no visible fatigue on Tuesday night when they finally returned home after a one-night stop in Milwaukee. On Wednesday, the Giants finally looked gassed.

The lineup showed little life in a 1-0 loss to the A’s that snapped a five-game winning streak. The Giants will be off for a day before hosting the Washington Nationals, who they swept last weekend.

Wilmer Flores led off the ninth against Dany Jimenez, a right-hander who was taken by the Giants in the 2019 Rule 5 Draft but sent back to the Toronto Blue Jays when he couldn’t stick on the roster. Flores appeared to get a leadoff single after Jimenez forgot to cover first on a grounder to the right side, but after a review, it was determined that first baseman Seth Brown tagged Flores before he touched the bag. Jimenez closed the Giants out from there.

Here’s how the rest of it happened:

Good Bulk

Sam Long was making his third “start” in six days, and for the first time this season, he allowed a run. Chad Pinder returned from the COVID IL and led off with a solo shot to left, but the pitching strategy still worked out pretty well for the Giants.

As he did last Friday, Long gave way to Jakob Junis, who had another really strong performance as the “bulk innings” guy. Junis threw five shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out six. He ran into a jam in the fifth when the A’s put runners on the corners with one out, but Junis picked Tony Kemp off at first base and struck Pinder out.

Through two appearances for the Giants, Junis has allowed just seven hits and thrown 10 scoreless innings. He has 10 strikeouts to just one walk, and his timing couldn’t be better. The Giants have a lot of roster moves to make over the next couple of weeks, but Anthony DeSclafani will miss at least a couple more turns through the rotation and Junis is making a very strong case to stick around, either as a true fifth starter or as the long reliever.

Another One Down

Joc Pederson hit two homers on Sunday and came out of the game late, as Gabe Kapler turned to Austin Slater against a lefty. When Kapler put Slater in for Yastrzemski on Wednesday night, it was the last thing he wanted to do.

Pederson pulled up while running to second in the third inning and the Giants later announced that he was removed with right groin tightness. Alex Cobb had groin tightness last week and ended up going on the IL, although he’s doing well and could return to the rotation as soon as Sunday.

If Pederson needs to miss time, the Giants don’t have a lot of options. They have been hesitant to accelerate LaMonte Wade Jr.’s rehab schedule, but Wade and Heliot Ramos are the only two outfielders left on the 40-man roster.

Best In The Game

Technically, Junis’ five shutout innings count toward the bullpen’s stats, which is nice, but it’s not as if that group needs any sort of help right now. The relievers entered the night with a 1.70 ERA, by far the lowest in the Majors. The next closest team is the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, who are at 2.22.

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It’s a group that’s not flashy and doesn’t strike a ton of guys out, but they throw strikes, limit homers (an NL-low four allowed) and do an incredible job of limiting damage. Entering play Wednesday, 85 percent of the baserunners who reached against Giants relievers had been stranded, the best mark in baseball.

Junis contributed to that with his nifty escape, but the rest of the guys who took the mound didn’t have much trouble. Jake McGee pitched a scoreless seventh and Tyler Rogers struck out a pair in a 1-2-3 eighth. Camilo Doval came in to try and keep it a 1-0 game and had a scoreless top of the ninth.

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