EXTRA BAGGS: A homestand gone awry, etc.

546420.jpg

EXTRA BAGGS: A homestand gone awry, etc.

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO Matt Cain served up a leadoff home run to aguy who hadnt gone deep in 629 at-bats.

Wednesday nights game got stranger from there.

The New York Mets had 18 baserunners, scored just two runs and won.

The Giants committed the greater sin by letting them off thehook. Well leave it to David Wright to provide the analysis:

We shouldve lost that game about nine times over.

No wonder relievers George Kontos and Clay Hensley sat intheir chairs with their arms wrapped in ice, staring into space. No wonder theclubhouse had a vibe like theyd just accidentally put a winning lotto ticketthrough the trash compactor.

Hunter Pence has been here just 24 hours. But hes playedbaseball all his life. He knows how a missed opportunity looks and feels.

There was a ton of excitement, it was loud, it was rowdy,and we had a crazy game, said Pence, who was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts inhis Giants debut. Unfortunately, I didnt do what they brought me here for.But its Game One.

For the Giants, its game No.104. And by the grace of God,its its another day in first place, since the Dodgers got swept at home bythe Diamondbacks.

Then again, that made the missed-opportunity feeling in theGiants clubhouse all the more hollow in the gut. Youd better believe they areaware that Arizona is just 2 games back.

This is a juncture in the schedule when the Giants needed to start climbing. Their current 10-game homestand matches their longest of the season. Now their best hope is to win behind Barry Zito on Thursday just to finish 4-6, and split a four-game series against a subpar opponent.

You never want to be forced to get well on the road, and after Thursday, the Giants will play 19 of their next 29 games away from AT&T Park.

Back to Pence for a moment: He came in with unimpressivenumbers against Mets lefty Jonathon Niese (3 for 20) and he only felt he hadone good at-bat Wednesday, when he fouled off four consecutive pitches one ofthem a long foul fly down the right field line before striking out.

I might have been trying to calm myself down too much,relax too much, Pence said. There was a lot of adrenaline. But Niese was on.Ill give him that.

Ill keep grinding. I wont be 0 for 4 every night.

--
The Mets were abysmal with runners on base, but credit theGiants defense with making some huge plays to save runs.

And cue up another highlight for Gregor Blanco, who hauledin another full-extension catch that left 41,000 slack-jawed. While this onedidnt preserve a perfect game, it did keep the Mets from scoring a run in afourth inning that couldve turned from homely to hideous.

Matt Cain is now officially spoiled.

Blanco picked me up again, Cain said. Who knows whatcouldve happened after that? That was a momentum builder. We just couldntcapitalize on it after that.

How does Blanco rank that catch among his best?

Second, he said, without hesitation.

Just like that remarkable catch June 13, Blanco took acouple extra steps to his right because he was reading the pitch.

I knew he was going to throw away, so I was guessing if hehit it, hes going to put it in the gap, Blanco said.

Will Cain come to expect every ball to end up in Blancosglove?

Thats what I like, Blanco said. I say to him, Make themhit everything to center field. I can get it. That gives him trust so he canthrow his pitch and dont worry about anything, because we have a greatdefense.

Pence walked up to Blanco and told him it was the best catchhes seen all year.

You just got here, Blanco told him, smiling.

--
So what the heck was wrong with Cain? He almost neverapproaches 100 pitches in five innings. Hes given up eight home runs in hislast six starts, too.

I did feel fine in the bullpen, but for some reason, I wentout there and it just changed, Cain said. I was battling myself the wholetime and couldnt throw early strikes. It was a constant struggle. It was along five innings for me, and definitely not what I want to do.

Cain didnt get the support to win and he did well to limitthe damage, but he blamed himself for letting the Mets dominate time ofpossession.

I just put our guys behind the 8-ball, Cain said. I didntget them in the dugout fast enough to get something going.

So Pence had plenty of time to bend blades of grass in rightfield. At least bird legs lady wasnt there to heckle him this time.

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

BOX SCORE

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.