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Keaton Winn knocked around in return from IL, SF Giants can’t complete sweep of Rangers

Keaton Winn knocked around in return from IL, SF Giants can’t complete sweep of Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas — Returning Sunday afternoon from a three-week absence to start the Giants’ series finale against the Rangers, Keaton Winn resembled the same pitcher who landed on the injured list last month, which can’t be good news for Bob Melvin’s pitching-starved club.

They had to settle for a series win against the defending World Series champions after Winn surrendered all seven of the runs the Rangers scored — five in the first two innings — while handing the visitors a 7-2 loss, preventing them from securing their first road sweep of the season.

Winn said he was “rattled” when the first pitch out of his hand sailed inside and struck Marcus Semien on the flap of his helmet, and he never quite recovered.

“Look, I mean, you try to get him a rehab so when he makes his start, he’s prepared for it,” Melvin said of Winn, who threw 3⅔ innings Tuesday in Arizona in his final tuneup from his bout of forearm tightness. “Obviously the command wasn’t great early in the game there. They got some hits off him early and had him on the run.

“Five runs after two innings puts us in a little bit of a hole, but I expect him to be better next time.”

The Giants (32-34) will return home two games under .500, the same mark they were at when they left, after going 3-3 on the swing through Arizona and Texas, where climate-controlled ballparks protected them from the sweltering temperatures outdoors, 88 degrees by Sunday’s 12:07 p.m. first pitch.

“We had a chance to at least sneak out one more, in my opinion,” Melvin said. “I think we responded well after, you know, doing that losing streak and losing the first two in Arizona. I thought we responded pretty well after that.”

Winn’s day went off the rails as soon as the very first pitch left his hand, a 95 mph fastball that put the leadoff man on base and caused a temporarily scary scene. Just one of his first seven pitches found the strike zone, and by the end of the first inning, the Giants were in a 3-0 hole.

Catcher Patrick Bailey was quick to check on Semien, and the scary hit-by-pitch put a hush in the 34,912 on hand. But he stayed in the game, swiped second base for the first of four Texas steals, and then truly avenged the errant fastball in his next trip to the plate, launching the first pitch for a two-run homer to left to make it 5-0 after 2.

“It definitely rattled me a bit,” Winn said of the first pitch. “Anything you do something you don’t mean to do, especially hit a guy in the head, it shook me a little bit. It just comes down to execution, I guess.”

Texas would tack on two more runs before Winn’s line for the day was closed, raising his ERA to 6.94.

The four stolen bases Melvin attributed to Winn, who he said was “too slow to plate, even his slide steps.” It was the fourth time the Giants have allowed their opponent to swipe at least four bags in a game this season, already their most in one year since 2014.

Adolis Garcia scored the Rangers’ third run of the first inning when Wyatt Langford broke from first base with Garcia on third. With two outs already recorded, Bailey fired through to second base to attempt to end the inning but bounced the ball to shortstop Brett Wisely, whose throw back home was off-line and too late to nab Garcia, who was credited with a steal of home.

“(Garcia) wasn’t going; it’s just when the ball bounced, then he took off,” Melvin said. “If the ball gets there on the fly, I don’t think he does.”

Winn’s ERA was a sterling 3.18 only three starts prior to hitting the injured list. Over his first six starts of the season, he allowed a total of 12 runs and completed six innings four times, but opponents in the four starts since have tagged him for 24 runs and knocked him from the game before the end of the fifth in each one.

“He’s got good stuff,” Melvin said. “It’s just about commanding it, locating it. And I think you’ll see a tick up in the velocity next time, too.”

Winn, who regularly races his fastball into the upper 90s, registered only 12 of his 37 heaters at 96 mph and didn’t hit 97 once, down about a half-mile an hour on average between his four-seamer and sinker.

“I’m not super worried about that,” Winn said. “I wasn’t trying to max out on the gun today. I’m trying to be smart (coming back from injury). I just have to be finer. I can’t make as many mistakes as I did today. … I felt like when I made pitches, I had success. And I just didn’t make (enough) pitches.”

Trailing 5-0 by the end of the second inning, the Giants clawed a couple runs back when Bailey singled home Casey Schmitt in the third and Mike Yastrzemski sent a solo shot just clear of the right-field foul pole in the fourth, but put just two men on base in 19 trips to the plate after that.

They were never able to recover from Winn’s rough start, losing for the fourth straight time with him on the mound.

“Definitely going to start diving deep. I’ve been trying to figure things out,” Winn said. “But we’re going to really hammer it this next week.”

Notable

Requiring a roster spot to activate Winn from the injured list before the game, the Giants optioned IF/OF Tyler Fitzgerald to Triple-A Sacramento.

3B Matt Chapman was held out of the lineup for only the second time this season. The Giants had been seeking to get him off his feet and took the opportunity with Chapman “a little banged up” after his diving attempt on a pop-up in foul territory late the previous night.

“I think his hamstring just tightened up,” Melvin said. “Whether it was a cramp or not – probably more likely – but it was a pretty good cramp. … Hopefully it’s just a day.”

Up next

The Giants travel back to San Francisco, where they continue their stretch of American League West foes with three games apiece against the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels. They are 4-7 so far through three interleague series.

LHP Kyle Harrison (4-3, 4.18) gets the ball to open the home stand against RHP Spencer Arrighetti (3-5, 5.79), with first pitch scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Monday.

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