Kruk and Kuip: Rain delay ruined pitching duel
Hunter Pence, like Pablo Sandoval, has yet to hit a home run since the All-Star break. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
WASHINGTON – It was half bemoaned, half implored. And fully bewildered.
“Somebody’s gotta hit a gapper sometime, you think?” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, after a 4-2 loss to the Washington Nationals Tuesday night.
He sat behind his desk, printouts and stat sheets covering most of its surface. He tipped back slightly in his chair. He was in no mood to pore over numbers.
The Giants were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. They left 12 on base. It would be a discussion point with the writers, if only it hadn’t been the discussion point over and over in this second half.
The defending champions stumbled into last place because the pitching whinnied and frothed with fatigue after being ridden hard in two of the previous three Octobers. But they stayed in last place because of an offense that is all singles and no action.
The most deceptive stat on Bochy’s desk might have been the Giants’ .258 average, which is the fourth best in the NL. That’s because their slugging percentage, at .373, is the second worst – only better than the Miami Marlins.
Buster Posey (.189 since the break) had the most noticeable downturn. But at least he mixed one home run in there. That’s more than Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence have hit between them since the break.
Posey, Pence, Sandoval and toss in Marco Scutaro, who was scratched because of a bad back Tuesday, have combined for 83 hits since the break. Exactly one has carried over a fence.
The only one with a slugging percentage over .300 is Pence, and that’s only because he’s mixed in a couple doubles along with more Baltimore chops to get through a week of dinner service at Sabatino’s. (If you’ve never been, go.)
No wonder the Giants have scored the fewest runs of any major league team since the break. No wonder they’re still in last place. No wonder Bochy feels like Malcolm McDowell, his eyelids forced open in “The Clockwork Orange,” forced to watch every rally die a slow and painful death.
When it comes time to turn around a fastball, maybe knock one into the seats or at least split the outfielders, the Giants are spitting out ground balls. Again and again and again.
It just made it all the more comically bad that Joaquin Arias went 4 for 4 with the bases empty, and then flied out on the first pitch when he had the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position in the eighth.
“I’ve got no complaints with his game,” Bochy said. “He was doing all he could to help us win.”
Well, hey. Sure, only the Miami Marlins have fewer wins than the Giants (52-66) among NL teams. But maybe there’s a bright side. If the season ended today, the Giants would have the fifth overall pick in the draft.
Last time they selected there, they took a fresh-faced kid catcher out of Florida State.
In case you were curious, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford own five of the team’s seven home runs in 23 games since the break. Posey and Brett Pill have the others.
Scutaro was getting ready to pinch hit in the ninth. Bochy planned to check on him Wednesday but considered it probable that he’d play.
There was never any discussion about bringing back Madison Bumgarner after the rain delay of one hour, 17 minutes just prior to the fifth inning. The pitcher said he’d never come back after a delay that long, so he deferred to the experienced hands on this one.
But he also was due to lead off the sixth. Did he lobby to hit, at least?
“A little bit,” he said, smiling.