SAN FRANCISCO – "There is a script, but it is not so defined."
These were the words of Giants manager Bruce Bochy before the game on Tuesday, the premiere of The Opener in San Francisco. The Giants will try again, as any front office willing to try an opener is also familiar with the phrase "small sample," but the first attempt was scripted from the start.
Nick Vincent, the Reliever-Turned starter, nearly died in the first round. Tyler Beede, the beginner and reliever, was not much better. The Giants lost 7: 3 against the equally low Blue Jays.
They took a shot and it did not work. But it was fun for a while, and it was different. So here's a running diary of an experiment that did not look like Bochy and Farhan Zaidi had imagined …
It's been five months since Zaidi's at the annual winter gatherings sitting in his suite, revealing to reporters that the Giants would probably use an opener at some point. However, the official announcement is in the form of a text from a public relations employee.
Updated Giants probabilities for the TOR series:
Tue: RHP Nick Vincent
And so the Giants enter the opener era.
Tuesday, 4:05 pm
Perhaps the biggest misunderstanding of all time was that Bochy was arguing with Zaidi about using an opener. Bochy just wants to win in his senior year, and he's used that strategy before, albeit under very different circumstances.
In the postseason, he regularly used bullpen starters, including in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series. The Giants knew that Tim Hudson's right arm hung on a thread that evening, so they had Jeremy Affeldt ready to leave early. Affeldt entered the second inning before handing it over to Madison Bumgarner. Hudson recorded only five outs.
A Tuesday night game against the Blue Jays is about as far from the World Series, but the Giants, who wanted to turn their season around, could not continue what they had done. On Tuesday, the starters had given 42 runs in the first inning of 40 games.
"I think you see our success story in recent weeks and it's not very good in the early (innings)," Bochy says in his pre-game press conference. "You do things to shake it up, so we do."
As is often the case, catcher Stephen Vogt puts his equipment on the bench and begins to stretch. He will soon be joined on the field by … Tyler Beede.
When Beede runs on the field, a Giants employee looks up and smiles.
"I'm not sure what he's doing," he says.
This process is new to everyone. The Giants have planned for Beede to follow Vincent and record the most innings on Tuesday, so he leaves early to break away and catch Vogt.
"I've tried to keep my routine largely the same," Beede said later after the game. "Just like every other day I start, it's not something I'm not familiar with."
While they are warming up, Vincent enters a room behind the shelter where the helpers are staying during the game. All alone, he begins to stretch his right arm with a resistance band.
After the Canadian and American anthems, Vincent finally conquers the Bullpen Mound. Nineteen warm-up phases later, Vincent jumps out of the race and beats coach Curt Young, Bullpen coach Matt Herges and Vogt with his fists. He grabs his jacket and slowly walks back to the shelter as the lineup is announced.
"You're trying to do the same moves," Vincent said after the game. "But it's never the same, no matter what you do."
It's 59 degrees on the first pitch, and Blue Jays second baseman Eric Sogard intervenes and shoots Vincent for the first pitch, starting for the second time in 367 appearances. Sogard turns left on the second court.
The giants are rolling.
Vlad Jr. is on the board. This was an absolute rocket: pic.twitter.com/fW1b072ujO
– Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) May 15, 2019
Of course, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. beat his first homer in his career against this Role Giants employee. The ball left the yard at 111 mph and returned an estimated 438 feet. Vlad would hit another homer later in the game, this time a three-shot deep into the left center.
"I saw his dad hit those balls," Bochy said after the game.
A check that inexplicably takes a minute and 40 seconds confirms that Freddy Galvis has dropped an RBI double across the board. It's 2-0.
Trevor God emerges from the bullpen and runs to the Heimbullpen, while Young walks to the hill to talk to Vincent. This goes toward disaster area, but Vincent gets a fly ball too far to the right to finish the inning.
The Giants follow the 3: 0, so that the opener does not change anything. Vincent gave four hits and threw 31 pitches. He did not come out for another inning.
"We did not break the curse of the first innings, I do not know what we need to do to overcome that hump in the first inning," he said. "I went out and gave it what I had, it just did not work out."
Beede, the originally planned starter, conquers the hill. He has been warming up on the Bullpen Mound for 11 minutes and his first inning is tough. He charges the bases with two hits and a walk, before he brings a pop-up with inning-end to second place.
Before the game, Bochy talked about how it's easier to use an opener when there are five players sitting on the bench. So you can almost always hit a pinch when the pitcher shows up. With Vincent after an inning there is no need. Beede beats for himself and makes himself short.
Beede loads the bases for the second time in three innings and this time he runs in the race. God, who has warmed up for the first time, takes over.
The line for Beede, who was to play most of the Tuesday game: 2 1/3 innings, four hits, one earned run, three walks and five strikeouts. Later, he said he needed to catch his breath when the game started spinning, and remembered that his things were good.
"In this situation, I became a little more anxious to make big pitches," Beede said, "instead of performing good pitches."
Trent Thornton, Torontos starter, leaves the hill after getting into trouble in the sixth. The Giants have already used four pitchers and three of them have abandoned runs.
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Donovan Solano strikes with a second and two outs in the eighth. The Giants put three pinch hitter in the nine-spot after Vincent and Beede were done. They went 0 for 3. Tyler Austin hit a runner and Evan Longoria took two.
Related to this, do not let the failed opener experiment distract you from the fact that the lineup only scored five goals against Thornton and a nondescript bullpen.
The Giants lose 7: 3. They are 17-24 and already 9,5 games first in the NL West.
There are disappointments in the clubhouse because the giants have lost and found a new way to lose. Forgetting the fact that Nick Vincent started the game and Tyler Beede has already lost is just like so many other defeats this season. Beede said the Giants should not give up on anything after just one game.
"It may not have worked today, but that does not mean it will not work or be good for us next time," he said optimistically.
Bochy will probably seek help again, be it Vincent or God or Travis Bergen or anyone else. The Giants are trying to figure out how to be good in 2020, and it's possible that an opener will be there. At the moment the goals are smaller. They really, really would like to stop giving up so many runs in the first inning.
"It's really a game," Bochy said. "If you look at this game with Beede, we thought it would be best for him and the club, it's not big enough to say it does not work, I do not know when we will." would do it again, or if we did it again, but we will not let a result dictate this. "