GLENDALE, Ariz. — The season’s first heartbreaker. At least for Trey McNutt.
The Giants reliever allowed two runs in the ninth, a Seby Zavala single driving in the game-winning run that a solid throw from Heliot Ramos couldn’t save as the Giants fell to the White Sox, 4-3 at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday.
Prior to the ninth, the Giants rode one big inning to the lead from names that are good to see succeed early — an RBI single from Wilmer Flores and two-RBI double from Alex Dickerson in the third.
Kevin Gausman threw two scoreless innings, and an array of relievers held Chicago until the ninth.
The Giants are now 2-2 in the spring season, which is as meaningless as icepops in Antarctica. Here are some takeaways:
Gausman or Gasman?
A day after Drew Smyly set the bar for starting debuts in camp, Gausman matched it.
Gausman, a Pomeranzian pickup who excelled last year out of the bullpen but believes he has the stuff to play out of the rotation, went two clean innings, the only baserunner coming from a walk. The 29-year-old’s fastball sat at about 94 mph, an encouraging sign on Feb. 25.
Last year he pitched his way out of the Atlanta rotation and roster before Cincinnati saw his resurrection. The significant change came from Reds pitching coach DJ Johnson, Gausman said, who noticed Gausman was staring down third base too long. Gausman spent the whole year pitching out of the stretch and said he wasn’t picking up his target soon enough.
“I just took [the discovery] and ran with it,” Gausman said after coming through his two innings without incident. “My command and overall stuff has gotten better since then.
“We’re always trying to look for the big fix as opposed to maybe something little that can go a long way.”
Gausman called last season “kind of a fluke year,” and the former first-round pick thinks he’s stepping into the right situation. From the Giants’ vantage point, if he doesn’t succeed as a starter, he could transition to relief and become a nice trade chip.
“I feel like I commanded all three well,” Gausman said of his fastball, splitter and slider. “One walk, but I feel like [Eloy Jimenez is] the type of hitter, you’re going to take that at certain times.”
Major step up
The kids got a taste at the adults’ table.
Ramos and Hunter Bishop were called up to the major league club for the game, the Nos. 2 and 4 prospects’ first looks against major league pitching.
Ramos, who entered in the fourth inning and played center, chopped a ground ball to first base in his debut and then struck out on a high fastball in the ninth.
His attempted game-saving throw, while a bit up the first-base line, looked strong.
“Did a really good job of getting his body behind the ball, hips and shoulders squared toward home plate, came right through it exactly as we teach it,” Gabe Kapler said. “Can’t really do it any better than that.”
Bishop, last year’s first-round pick from Serra High School in San Mateo, was the DH and struck out in the sixth, swinging through high-90s heat from Chicago’s Jimmy Cordero. In the ninth, the speedy Bishop grounded out sharply to shortstop.
“Both of those guys had no fear in their eyes in the dugout,” Kapler said. “…That was super encouraging.”
Kapler has preached aggression, wanting the Giants to take chances early in spring. The team even has a baserunner-of-the-game award, underscoring how much they value the overlooked aspect of the game.
The boldness was hit or miss Tuesday.
Mike Yastrzemski, who led off with a single, quickly swiped second base. An inning later, Donovan Solano ran the Giants out of a chance by getting thrown out by quite a bit.
In the third, Jamie Westbrook took off for second, and Yastrzemski’s single nearly led him to score from first.
Led by Antone Richardson, San Francisco believes it can outmaneuver defenses on the basepaths.
Beautiful day in the neighborhood
Righty or lefty, veteran or minor leaguer, Tyler Rogers continues to prove he can get opponents out.
The submariner faced two righties and a lefty in the third inning and retired all three, only Tim Anderson making solid contact that became a long out at the warning track.
Leury Garcia, the lefty, looked confused at how to handle the angle before striking out. Rogers will have to prove he can retire hitters from both sides with the new three-batter minimum, but it’s not looking like a problem right now.
“We’re excited about Rogers,” Kapler said. “The work that he’s doing outside the lines, in his prep work, his weight-room routine, his bullpen sessions, in his live BPs and today in the game, it was certainly impressive.”
Yolmer Sanchez, who had played 13 total games at shortstop with the White Sox since 2014, got the start at short.
“You have to be ready to play anywhere,” said Sanchez, who won a Gold Glove last year at second and said he would like to earn the same honor in the NL.
Sanchez signed with the Giants after being informed he would be able to compete for the everyday second baseman job, though the Giants have emphasized how much they value versatility.