Matt Wisler gives up go-ahead homer, SF Giants lose to spoil strong debut from Aaron Sanchez

In 18 appearances with the Minnesota Twins last season, right-hander Matt Wisler was one of the best relievers in the majors as he struck out 35 batters in 25 1/3 innings while posting a minuscule 1.07 ERA.

In four appearances with the Giants this year, Wisler has recorded five outs and given up six earned runs, including two on a Victor Caratini home run that ultimately decided Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Padres.

The Giants expected Wisler to be a steady right-handed option and help fill the voids left by Sam Coonrod and Shaun Anderson, who each battled command issues last summer and were traded in the offseason. Five games into the Giants’ season, Wisler is more of a concern than a solution as he was beat by the Padres’ No. 8 hitter at a critical juncture of Tuesday’s game.

A rough seventh inning for Wisler –who walked Ha-Seong Kim before Caratini yanked a two-run homer down the right field line– overshadowed an underwhelming performance from the Giants’ offense, which struggled to make contact against 2020 National League Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish.

The former Cubs right-hander who was acquired in a high-profile trade this winter allowed three hits and one run –a Brandon Crawford solo homer– while striking out seven in six innings. Darvish threw eight different types of pitches and generated 11 swings and misses, but the Giants entered the late innings with a chance to secure a series win thanks to a strong performance from free agent signee, Aaron Sanchez.

Sanchez struggled more than any Giants starter during spring training as he didn’t make his Cactus League debut until March 19 and allowed 12 baserunners in the 5 2/3 innings he logged over two outings. The right-hander struggled to carry his velocity past the second inning of his starts and wasn’t consistently missing bats, but Sanchez looked like a different pitcher against the Padres.

Fueled by the adrenaline of pitching in front of 9,000-plus fans and against a vaunted San Diego offense, Sanchez exceeded expectations with five innings of one-run ball in his Giants debut.

After missing the entire 2020 season while recovering from shoulder surgery, Sanchez proved from the first pitch that he hasn’t lost an ounce of competitive fire by running to the mound between innings and celebrating each of his four strikeouts with fist pumps.

Of the six hits Sanchez allowed Tuesday, three were infield singles and another was an Eric Hosmer RBI single in the third inning that rolled past the outstretched glove of a diving Brandon Crawford up the middle. Sanchez’s ability to keep the ball on the ground and keep the Padres off balance with a curveball he threw 22 times were key to his success, and it also gave the Giants a preview of what they hope to see from their fifth starter for the rest of the season.

After completing one turn through the rotation, Giants starters combined to give up just one home run in the team’s first five games. Mariners second baseman Ty France’s solo shot off Logan Webb on Saturday in Seattle was the lone homer, and in 2021, a pitching staff that keeps the ball in the park should give its team a chance to win on a consistent basis.

In the seventh inning on Tuesday, Wisler was unable to contain Caratini, who evened the series and set up a matinee rubber match between Giants righty Kevin Gausman and Padres southpaw Blake Snell on Wednesday.

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Author: Kerry Crowley

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