LOS ANGELES — Finally, on game 17, the Giants have a quality start.
What they did not have to accompany the occasion was quality relieving.
Kevin Gausman was brilliant, overpowering the powerful Dodgers bats through 6 1/3 innings, the longest a Giants starter has gone thus far and finally snapping a major league record for most games without a starter lasting six innings. He was pulled after allowing a Cody Bellinger single. Three batters later, AJ Pollock — a pitch after an extended argument with the home-plate umpire, Pollock feeling he should have been walked — drilled a three-run home run to left, giving the Dodgers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Tyler Rogers’ second blowup this year at Dodger Stadium (and third in total for a reliever who owns an 11.88 ERA) gave the Giants a hard-to-swallow 6-2 loss Sunday, dropping a game and a series against the rivals.
After Rogers’ struggles, Caleb Baragar let two on in the eighth, only for Shaun Anderson to surrender a three-run shot to Mookie Betts, a brutal bullpen day after Tony Watson, Rogers and Trevor Gott starred the night prior.
In a series in which the Dodgers threw Julio Urias, Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, the Giants (7-10) only beat Kershaw. After a rough trip to Coors Field, the Giants can try to salvage the season’s most important road trip beginning Monday in Houston — or can watch it spiral.
Gausman, whose stuff is electric, finally had the results to reflect that. His 80th and final pitch was his fastest of the day (99.3 mph), and his four-seamer was overpowering throughout. He did not look happy with himself coming off the mound, although Rogers was soon to be more disconsolate.
Gausman induced nine swings and misses on the fastball alone, which averaged 97 mph. He mixed in a splitter and slider and didn’t walk a batter, easily his best of four starts as a Giant. In a rotation suddenly lacking both Drew Smyly and Jeff Samardzija, Gausman’s emergence is comforting.
Apart from one frame, the Giants’ hitting was not quality, either. They had just two hits, both singles, though they drew four walks off Buehler. They finally broke through in the fifth, which began without the Giants recording a hit.
Yet, Mike Yastrzemski still stepped to the plate with the Giants threatening. A walk and hit by pitch put Pablo Sandoval and Austin Slater on, and a wild pitch from Buehler, who was nasty but wild, moved them into scoring position. With two outs, Yastrzemski hung in against his former Vanderbilt teammate, swinging through two of the first three pitches but putting a good swing on a curveball in pitch five, volleying it into center to knock in two.
That would be all the Giants would have on a day they would need more. They didn’t bring their bats, though their gloves were intact.
This looked more like the team Gabe Kapler and Kai Correa expected. Gausman raised his hand in appreciation first of a Yastrzemski play at the wall that took away a hit from Will Smith. Smith was the batter again in the bottom of the sixth, when he looped one to shallow center that ended up in Brandon Crawford’s cradled glove, his back to home plate. It wasn’t quite Willie Mays, but it was a nice imitation.
No Giants could imitate Mays at the plate, though. And the relievers who followed Gausman could not imitate him, either.