Kruk and Kuip get existential after Giants' sixth straight loss
The Giants have led a total of two innings in five games on this road trip. (AP IMAGES)
DENVER – The Giants lost another game, but it felt like something more happened at Coors Field Saturday afternoon.
They got sand kicked in their faces.
Right now, the Giants aren’t just getting beaten. They’re getting bullied. Opponents are stealing bases at will. Opposing pitchers are making quick work of their lineup, which is hollow once you get past Buster Posey.
The Giants have lost six consecutive games after a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. They’ve led a total of two innings in five games on this road trip – and they’ve got five more to go before they come home July 5.
[REPLAY: Giants' offense gives Matt Cain no aid]
If this continues much longer, they’ll be buried up to their necks.
“It’s not a good stretch. I’ll leave it at that,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who used plenty of saltier words that bounced off the hallway walls after reporters left his office.
Put simply, the Giants can do no right.
Matt Cain walked into a second inning that looked like a messy second grader’s bedroom, he silently and dutifully put everything away, and then he cleaned house while not allowing the Rockies a hit over the next six innings.
So it almost seemed inconsiderate, then, when the Giants made another mess in the ninth. Jeremy Affeldt got beaten on a two-out walk, a stolen base and a single.
“He was outstanding,” Bochy gushed of Cain. “What a great job he did. He saved us in the second inning after we threw the ball all over the place. What a gutty effort.”
It was a 105-pitch effort that Bochy deemed enough for one day. As he said, the ninth inning set up perfectly for Affeldt, an important member of the bullpen who hadn’t pitched in almost a week and had plenty of time to think about righting himself from a rough spell. Bochy had no better choice. He has to trust Affeldt eventually to do the job he's being paid to do. And the Rockies had two left-handers due up in the ninth, too.
But Affeldt seems to be at his worst in Cain’s starts. At least this time he didn’t deprive the right-hander of a win for the third time this season.
“He got two outs and nobody on,” Bochy said. “A walk and a stolen base killed us.”
Sound familiar? The Giants lost a game at Dodger Stadium on Thursday when the Dodgers’ tying and go-ahead runs stole their way into scoring position on Hector Sanchez, who hasn’t thrown out a base stealer in nine attempts.
Sanchez entered as part of a double switch with Affeldt in the ninth. No wonder pinch runner Josh Rutledge started the motor.
It’s not like backup Guillermo Quiroz has distinguished himself recently, either. He left the plate uncovered in that sloppy second inning, when he inexplicably decided to help Pablo Sandoval double-cover third base. It was the Giants’ luck that baserunner Yorvit Torrealba didn’t notice in time.
But what’s Bochy supposed to do? Never give Posey a break from catching? He can’t afford to wear down his reigning NL MVP, but … well, let’s just say there’s a newfound appreciation for Chris Stewart around these parts.
Toss in some buzzard's luck, too. Andres Torres was 3 for 3 with the bases empty. When he came to the plate with two on and two out in the seventh, he couldn’t tap one past the mound.
“Once again, we’re not hitting,” Bochy said.
That would be accurate, yes. The Giants were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and are 8 for 62 (.129) over their last nine games.
No wonder their 85 runs in June rank as the fewest in the National League. They’ve scored 18 runs over their last nine games.
Posey might be venturing into Buster Bash power-up mode, but the two guys behind him, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval, have hit the skids. Maybe Bochy will have to revisit sticking Posey back in the cleanup spot. The guess here is that Posey will be hitting fourth again before long, unless this offense starts to get unstuck soon.
The only hitter besides Posey making solid contact on this trip, Brandon Belt, was on the bench as Bochy played Posey at first base. Perhaps Belt should look forward to some fly balls in left field in the near future, too.
This much is not in doubt: Sandoval, a major disappointment after his World Series MVP performance last year, is 2 for 19 since coming off the disabled list. And he freely acknowledged that seeing seven pitches in four hitless at-bats, as he did Saturday, is not acceptable.
“Yeah, I think so,” Sandoval said. “I need to make an adjustment there in that situation, change my game.”
Said Bochy: “The bottom line is we’ve got a couple guys swinging well but the 4-5 guys struggled today and that makes it hard to keep the line moving.”
The stolen bases, the lack of depth, the lack of clutch hits, the injuries, the roster pieces that don’t really fit together … it added up to a familiar result for Cain.
Cain has gotten sand in the eyes plenty of times early in his career. Once again, he blinked away the grains and did the chivalrous thing. He blamed himself for the 0-2 curveball that Michael Cuddyer hit for an RBI single in the first inning.
“I had a chance to get out of that and I didn’t make a good pitch,” said Cain, who gave the Giants just their third start of at least eight innings this season. “As hot as he is, if you make a mistake, he’ll get a hit. I kind of kicked myself over that.”
It was a mistake, and the Giants rotation has made plenty of them this year. You can’t hit your way past a dozen of those mistake pitches.
But one 0-2 curve? In the first inning? At Coors Field? The Giants could and should be able to overcome that.
When they leave their room a mess, as they did Saturday, that’s when Dad raises his voice.
And it booms off the hallway walls.
It's automatic for many fans to rip the manager after a one-run loss, and their analysis is usually emotional and incomplete. But Bochy had a rough one this time. The double-switch with Sanchez wasn't completely necessary, the decision to sit Belt was questionable (the fact that Belt hasn't taken fly balls in the outfield is inexcusable, really), and of course, there are folks who believe that Cain should've come out to begin the ninth.
Didn't mention this in the Instant Replay, but Posey was 2 for 4 with a double and has five of the Giants' 11 hits in two games here. He's now reached base in 47 consecutive games against the Rockies -- every one but the first game he played against them. That is darn impressive.
Watch out for the Rockies. Jorge De La Rosa is nearer to a top-of-the-rotation presence and they've been able to weather the loss of Troy Tulowitzki, going 6-9 without him. He was taking grounders prior to the game and looked pretty smooth. He's out another two weeks. If the Rockies can hold serve until then, they're going to be a threat to the end in this division.
Everyone was taken by surprise when Marco Scutaro walked to the plate in the first inning. Tony Abreu was supposed to start and nobody notified the press box of the lineup change. It was a very rushed and hushed postgame clubhouse, so I neglected to ask about it afterward. I presume Scutaro talked his way into the lineup. Anyway, it gave us a good laugh when the Rockies' PR man got on the intercom and said, "Attention media, Marco Scutaro is apparently batting second and playing second base..."
As Alex Pavlovic mentioned on Twitter, it'd be awesome if Belt tried that.
Posey is nominated for a couple awards sponsored by a large sports cable network. Thinking out loud ... Brian Wilson probably doesn't wear that skin-tight tuxedo leotard of his EVERY day.