Baggs' Instant Replay: D'backs 8, Giants 6 (11 inn.)


Baggs' Instant Replay: D'backs 8, Giants 6 (11 inn.)


SAN FRANCISCO Youll hear Giants manager Bruce Bochy say it: These are must-win games the rest of the way.

Heres how you know he means it: The Giants used 11 pitchers for the first time in at least 94 years.

But for all their fight in erasing a four-run deficit, and for all of Bochys strategizing, the Giants werent able to pull out another late-inning victory. The Arizona Diamondbacks got to George Kontos and Javier Lopez in the 11th inning, Jason Kubel hit a triple over the head of right fielder Hunter Pence and the Giants couldnt get the late magic they needed in an 8-6 loss at AT&T Park Tuesday night.

Their archrivals lacked that magic, too. The Dodgers lost in extras to the San Diego Padres, at least ensuring the Giants wouldnt lose anything off their four and a half game lead in the NL West.

Pence didnt look graceful as Kubels triple fell a few inches from his glove as Aaron Hill scored. Miguel Montero followed with an RBI single to beat the Giants on a night they busted their San Francisco-era franchise record of nine pitchers used in a game.

Until then, the story was all about the San Francisco Rallybacks. Brandon Belt splashed a two-run home run and Pablo Sandoval had clutch at-bats to lead them back from a four-run deficit, and the bullpen made a couple of huge escapes after being pressed into early service.

But the seagulls got Hitchcockian as the game continued late into the night. The Giants got their first two hitters aboard in the 11th, but Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro flied out and Sandoval grounded out to end it.

Starting pitching report
Ryan Vogelsong is a major concern, officially. Despite throwing consistently in the 92-93 mph range, the right-hander was hit hard for a fifth consecutive start while giving up six runs in 3 13 innings.

Vogelsong had multiple baserunners in every inning, and while he minimized the damage in the first two frames, the Diamondbacks punished his pitches in the third and sent him to an early exit in the fourth.

So heres the deal: Vogelsong had a 2.27 ERA in his first 21 starts and held opponents to a .215 average.

He has a 10.13 ERA over his last five starts and opponents are hitting .385 against him.

Perhaps a regression was in order for Vogelsong, who posted a .250 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) over those first 21 starts. Thats over 40 points below the league average not the most sustainable rate. And boy, has that script ever flipped. Over his last five starts, opponents are hitting a whopping .542 on balls in play.

Vogelsong gave up nine hits and walked two (one intentional) while retiring just 10 of 20 batters faced.

He simply is not hitting spots as he did before or getting late movement on his fastball. He threw an 0-2 heater as straight as a string to Paul Goldschmidt for a tiebreaking, RBI double over Pences head in the third inning. An intentional walk loaded the bases and Vogelsong hit his mark on an inside fastball to break Ryan Wheelers bat on a pop fly, but John McDonald grounded a seeing-eye, two-run single through the right side to give Arizona a 4-1 lead.

First baseman Brandon Belt cut off the throw home and the Giants managed to get an out on the basepaths to escape the inning, but trouble began anew for Vogelsong in the fourth. Adam Eaton doubled for his first major league hit and Aaron Hill, who isnt missing many mistakes these days, crushed a hanging, first-pitch curveball for a two-run home run.

At least Vogelsong will get an extra day of rest before his next scheduled start Monday at Coors Field.

Bullpen report
The Giants could call up 30 relievers and Bochy would find a way to use them. Dan Otero and Shane Loux made their contributions by tossing 2 23 scoreless innings between them, and Jose Mijares benefited from some sensational defense while completing the seventh.

Things got dicey after the Giants tied it in the seventh, though. Jean Machi issued a leadoff walk, and with one out, Jeremy Affeldt made a mess of Eatons infield single. The left-handers desperation toss to first base wasnt even close, skipping into Arizonas dugout to put runners at second and third with one out.

Enter Santiago Casilla. (Why, is that a reference to Enter the Dragon on Bruce Lee Night? Of course it is.)

Casilla got a pop-up from Justin Upton to first baseman Brandon Belt and then another from Kubel, who owns 27 home runs this season. The second pop was in foul ground, and although Posey had trouble seeing it, Belt raced to the rescue to secure the ball and preserve the tie.

Sergio Romo needed just 17 pitches to dispatch the six hitters he faced, but Kontos gave up a leadoff single to Aaron Hill -- his career-best fifth hit of the night -- and Lopez's scoreless streak ended after 23 appearances.

At the plate
The Giants showed once again that they do not fear coming from behind.

In the early innings, only Marco Scutaro seemed to be getting good swings against Arizonas Ian Kennedy. He tripled in the first inning and scored on Pablo Sandovals ground out, then Scutaro doubled in a run in the third. But Hunter Pence lined out to strand the bases loaded, and Kennedy struck out the next four hitters to carry a 6-2 lead into the sixth.

Thats when it started to get loud. Sandoval and Pence hit ringing doubles and Brandon Belt lofted a two-run home run that splashed into McCovey Cove.

It was Belts fifth homer of the year but his first in 238 at-bats against right-handed pitching.

Brandon Crawford just missed tying the game when he hit a two-out double that struck the bricks just a foot or two short of the metal roof atop the arcade. The Giants stranded him, but they werent done hitting.

Angel Pagan doubled to start the seventh, and after a Scutaro sacrifice moved him to third, Pablo Sandoval executed with a brilliant bit of two-strike hitting. He took an outside pitch and lined it crisply to left field for a tying single, pumping his fist all the way up the line.

Sandoval went for the game winner with a 3-0 count and two outs in the ninth, taking a huge cut and sending a drive to the deepest part of right-center field. It wouldve been a walk-off shot in at least 27 big league ballparks, but Justin Upton ensured Sandoval wouldnt even get a double. The right fielder made a running catch before smacking against the wall.

In field
Its not everyday you can write a 9-6 forceout in your scorebook. Hunter Pence alertly threw to second base after Arizonas Jason Kubel got a bad read on Miguel Monteros line single past second baseman Marco Scutaro in the seventh inning. Shortstop Brandon Crawford was alert, too, to cover second base and treat Kubel to a long, embarrassing trot back to the dugout.

Crawford stayed alert while creating one of the most remarkable double plays of the season. He fielded Wheelers high chopper, did a 360-degree spin while tagging out Montero (who shouldve stopped running) and threw to first base in plenty of time as the crowd roared.

Sandoval earned the next ovation in the eighth when he sprawled on his belly while catching a popped up bunt attempt following Machis leadoff walk.

It wasnt all superlatives for the Giants in the field, though. They had a clear shot to throw out a runner at the plate in the second inning, but catcher Buster Posey set up ultra conservatively outside the batters box on the first base side.

Pences throw, which was on target and wouldve beaten the runner to the plate, short-hopped Posey and he couldnt secure the ball and reach back for a swipe tag. If Posey had stationed himself a little closer to the plate, he wouldve gotten a longer hop and a realistic chance to apply the tag and save Vogelsong a run. Its understandable that the Giants dont want Posey blocking the plate, but their group strategy must be reevaluated if the Giants make the postseason.

The Giants announced 41,038 paid, not including the kayakers in the cove who finally had a splash homer to chase.

Up next
The Giants play the rubber match of their three-game series with Arizona on Wednesday night. Madison Bumgarner (14-9, 3.07) will oppose right-hander Trevor Cahill (9-11, 4.02).

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season


SAN FRANCISCO — The promotion of an intriguing prospect can bring a certain buzz to the ballpark. It didn’t last long. 

The debut of Ryder Jones came in the latest flat performance from the Giants, who collapsed late and fell 5-2 to the Mets. The loss was their 50th of the season. They did not lose their 50th game last season until August 12. 

With the score tied in the eighth, Curtis Granderson crushed a leadoff triple into the alley. Sam Dyson walked the next batter and then whiffed Yoenis Cespedes, but Jay Bruce greeted Steven Okert with an RBI single to right. It kept going poorly from there. 

Here are five things to know from a cool day by the water … 

—- Jones grounded out to second in his first at-bat and then flied out to center, grounded out to first, and grounded out to second. He had one chance in the field, starting a double play that ended the second inning.  

—- Johnny Cueto seems to have turned a corner. Over his past two starts, he has allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings. Whether they trade him or not, the Giants certainly could use a nice little hot streak for the next six weeks. 

—- A few seconds after Bruce Bochy shook Cueto’s hand, Brandon Belt got him off the hook for a loss. He hit the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh into the seats in left-center, tying the game. The homer was Belt’s 14th. He’s on pace for 29. 

—- The Mets got eight one-run innings out of Jacob deGrom, who is quietly the most reliable of a star-studded rotation. He struck out seven and gave up just four hits. 

—- If Madison Bumgarner wants another Silver Slugger Award, he’ll have to chase down deGrom, who hit a homer in his last start. His single in the third was his 10th hit, and he finished the day with a .294 average.