Kruk & Kuip: 'It's sloppiness from guys not known for being sloppy'
It’s tough when you make an error on the game’s final play, as Marco Scutaro did in the Giants' 8-7 loss to the Padres. (AP IMAGES)
SAN DIEGO – A 12-inning game can reveal a lot about a team.
It can illuminate a roster’s strengths and weaknesses. It can tell you how certain players respond when pushed beyond their comfort zone. And because the result is either fatigued jubilation or abject disappointment, and never anything in between, it can show you something of a group’s character, too.
So Giants manager Bruce Bochy had to assemble a page full of mental notes after his club blew two leads, including a 5-0 advantage, and lost 8-7 to the San Diego Padres Saturday night.
Make that a mental steno pad, since this was the Giants’ fourth consecutive loss, and three of them have come in extra innings.
“You’re going to have games like this,” said Bochy, “but to have four in a row is tough.”
It is tougher when you make the mistake that lets the opponent crawl out of the casket, as Andres Torres did when he flat-out missed Carlos Quentin’s line drive in the fourth inning.
It’s tougher when you make the error on the game’s final play, as Marco Scutaro did when he got caught between hops on what should’ve been a double-play grounder.
“I don’t have an excuse,” Scutaro said. “I didn’t make the play.”
The second baseman was playing at less than double-play depth when Nick Hundley’s liner hopped in front of him and bounced away.
“If he hit a slow roller, I’ve got to go to home plate,” Scutaro said. “I was (playing) halfway and I got in between a line drive.”
As for Torres, he had even less excuse. It had to be a lonely feeling to chase Quentin’s ball all the way to the wall. It had to be lonelier still when Barry Zito retired just one of the next six batters as the Padres stormed back with a six-run rally.
“I feel terrible,” Torres said. “I don’t know what happened, to be honest with you. I thought I had it. I put my glove and couldn’t catch it.”
Scutaro was the postgame truth speaker:
“Everybody knows we’re not playing as a team right now,” he said. “We’ve been a little inconsistent (getting) the defense, offense and pitching together. Sometimes we hit and don’t pitch or pitch but don’t hit. It’s a matter of time before we start putting all these things together. It’s going to be fun.”
This game had far too much going on to be distilled down to two misplays, costly as they might have been.
--Zito still gave back a five-run lead. He’d been 42-3 as a Giant when receiving at least four runs of support.
--The offense did nothing after the sixth inning. From the sixth to the 11th, other than Pablo Sandoval’s two hits (including one that resulted in an out when he shockingly didn’t have enough speed to double on a ball to the gap in right center), the Giants were 0 for 17 with no walks over that six-inning span.
--Chad Gaudin, who was 1 for 41 in his career, tried to make it 2 for 42 in what should’ve been an obvious sacrifice situation. Brandon Crawford ended up running into an out when Gaudin swung and missed. (I didn’t get the chance to ask whether that was a missed sign or a strategic move that backfired.)
But there were good things, too. Chief among them: Jean Machi’s three scoreless relief innings.
If the Giants have to send Machi out to make room for Jeremy Affeldt, they’ll need to do it with profuse apologies. All the right-hander has done in four games is hold opponents to three hits and no walks over 6 2/3 innings while throwing 95 mph heat along with a filthy splitter.
Machi’s a pretty incredible athlete, too. He almost took a hit away from Chris Denorfia on a nubber in front of the plate because he got off the mound so quickly. And you’ll miss his pickoff move if you blink. That’s what might have happened when he caught Chase Headley off first base.
“I don’t know the last time he’s gone three innings,” Bochy said. “He said he felt great and he threw great. For him to do what he did is really a gutty effort.”
There was more good stuff tucked in the corners of the box score – like three hits in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position, which is three more than they had over the previous two games combined. Hunter Pence had one of those, a two-run triple, and he also made a game-saving catch (for the time being) on his diving effort to end the 11th inning.
But mostly, there were missed opportunities to lament and wounds to lick. When you lose one extra-inning game, you can fall back on the positives. When you lose three in a four-game span … well, you stare into space for a time, then try to sleep it off like a bad hangover.
“It’s going to be 162 games,” Scutaro said. “You’ll have good and bad games, go through ups and downs. That’s the way it is, every season. You’ve got to stay positive and keep fighting. It’s hard to play 162 games with everything going your way. It’s never going to happen.”
Seems like it happened for Scutaro last year, doesn’t it? He batted .360 after joining the Giants following a trade with the Colorado Rockies. He went 14 for 28 in the NLCS. He drove in the go-ahead run in the World Series clincher. Even a takeout slide wasn’t able to take him out.
Scutaro came to the Giants on July 28 of last season. Coincidentally, he came smack dab in the middle of a five-game losing streak, when they swept by the Dodgers at AT&T Park and fell into a first-place tie.
And Saturday night, the Giants lost their fourth consecutive game – something they hadn’t done since that streak in late July.
They ended last year with fatigued jubilation, of course. But for now, after four losses decided by five runs, three of them going to extra innings, there is only emptiness.
As empty as Torres’ glove, and just as hard to explain.
“There’s nothing you can say,” Bochy said. “He just missed it.”