Giants again fail to complete ninth-inning comeback

Giants again fail to complete ninth-inning comeback

SAN FRANCISCO — One of these nights, the Giants will complete a comeback in the ninth. 

Maybe. 

In theory. 

I mean, it has to happen eventually, right?  

Thursday was not the night, not when Eduardo Nuñez hit by far the hardest ball of the comeback attempt and ended up with a game-ending double play. The Giants lost 3-1, falling to 0-6 this year when trailing in the ninth. Since the start of the 2015 season, they are 2-136 when they’re behind after eight. They have lost 120 straight. 

The latest halted rally came against Greg Holland, the new Rockies closer and a pitcher the Giants briefly looked at before signing Mark Melancon. Holland ran into trouble, but it wasn’t necessarily his fault. The Giants loaded the bases on two infield singles, a fielder’s choice grounder, and a walk. Nuñez, one of Bruce Bochy’s hottest players this month, scalded a ball right at second baseman DJ LeMahieu. 

“You feel good when that inning starts to unfold,” Bochy said. “We got some breaks there on a couple of groundballs. Really the only thing you can do is take a good swing and Nuney did that. He’s a tough guy to double up but he hit it that hard.”

The rally was one of few on a night when two aces didn’t get as deep as expected. Jon Gray departed in the fourth with a toe injury and Madison Bumgarner was gone by the seventh of a game where his command was off. Bumgarner paid dearly for one pitch, a fastball across the heart of the plate that Trevor Story crushed to left for a two-run shot that ultimately held up. 

“I certainly would like to have it back,” he said. “I don’t know, I just didn’t make a whole lot of great pitches tonight. I did OK to keep us in the ballgame, but obviously you would like to be a little better.”

The Giants couldn’t complete their latest comeback attempt, dropping to 4-7 on the season. They’re winless in Bumgarner’s three starts, though he has pitched well and contributed two homers at the plate. Bumgarner said he’s not letting that gnaw at him.

“All you can do is control what you can control,” he said. “You go out there and do your job.”

--- Brandon Crawford arrived at the park around 5:15 p.m. and pinch-hit in the eighth. Crawford’s wife, Jalynne, posted on Instagram that her sister, Jennifer, passed away suddenly. The Crawfords drove to Los Angeles on Wednesday night and Brandon took a flight back Thursday afternoon. 

“He said he was ready for anything, ready to pinch-hit,” Bochy said. “It’s been a tough 24 hours for Brandon. You feel for him with what he’s had to deal with. It was a long night last night. Here he is, trying to help us win a ballgame. It says a lot about Brandon. He didn’t have to be here. For him to show up tonight, I really was surprised.”

Save a good thought for the Crawfords tonight. Our condolences go out to Brandon, Jalynne and their family. 

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

SAN FRANCISCO — In the bottom of the eighth inning Monday, with the Giants finally running away with one, Johnny Cueto started blowing into a giant wad of bubble gum. He held two hands out, ready to catch remnants of an explosion as Brandon Crawford and Kelby Tomlinson looked on and smiled. 

A few minutes later, players started migrating to the dugout rail as they have done in each of the three starts Ryder Jones has made. They are ready to cheer on a rookie’s first big league hit, even if the wait has been an excruciating one for the third baseman. 

Bruce Bochy likes to say that your personality is better when you’re winning, and his players certainly showed that Monday in snapshots here and there. They woke up to a report that there were fractured in the clubhouse, caused in large part by the new closer. They denied it, they met as a group, and then, finally, they won. 

Jeff Samardzija pitched as he has for two months, the top of the lineup came through over and over again, and Brandon Crawford paced a golden night with the gloves. A 9-2 win over the Rockies was just the second since June 11 and it snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Rockies. Any win is meaningful at this point, but this one seemed to mean just a little bit more given the drama of the day. 

“Despite what people might think, we still have a pretty good group here and we get along just fine,” Crawford said. “We’re all rooting for each other.”

It’s one thing to support teammates off the field, and there’s been no indication that the Giants aren’t doing that. It’s quite another to be hand-in-hand between the lines, and for much of this season, Samardzija has been on an island. 

The right-hander has been Bochy’s best pitcher since Madison Bumgarner went down in the hills outside Denver. But he entered Monday with a 2-9 record and 4.74 ERA inflated by faulty defense. He hasn’t grumbled, but he has grown accustomed to the worst, and when Nolan Arenado bounced a ball deep to the hole in shortstop with two on and two outs in the third, Samardzija figured the game was probably tied. 

“I’m thinking maybe they charge it in the outfield and maybe make a play at home,” Samardzija said. “But with a guy like that at shortstop, things change so fast.”

Crawford scooped the ball on the edge of the grass. He would have liked nothing more than to make an otherworldly throw to first to nail his World Baseball Classic teammate, but he knew the best chance was at third. A couple of days ago, Crawford and Jones discussed how the rookie should cover third on such a play. Jones played it perfectly, retreating in time to catch Crawford’s inning-ending throw. 

“The best thing (about Crawford) is he doesn’t even talk about it,” Samardzija said.

No, Crawford put the spotlight on Jones.

“That’s a pretty heads-up play,” he said. “We talked about it and he was there. It was a funny coincidence.”

The play held the lead, and the Giants kept pushing. The top four hitters in the lineup finished with 10 hits, six RBI and six runs. Brandon Belt had an RBI triple in the five-spot. Crawford drove in a run behind him. Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson added insurance from the bottom. Bochy watched it all from the top step and saw a group collectively relax.

“Just quit fighting it so much,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent in this offense. There’s no reason they can’t put consistent runs on the board. Tonight I just thought the at-bats were so much better and the focus was. Once it started rolling, guys felt better about themselves, and it just got contagious.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies

posey-postgame.jpg
AP

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — On a day that started with controversy, Giants players called a meeting following batting practice. Perhaps they were talking about when and where to stretch. Perhaps a reminder was given to keep clubhouse complaints in the actual clubhouse. 

Or, perhaps, the players just decided that enough was enough. 

In a rare display, the Giants put a clean and complete game together. They beat the Rockies 9-2 at AT&T Park, getting just their second win since June 11 and snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Rockies. 

Jeff Samardzija continued his hot streak, the lineup was opportunistic and flashed some power, and the defense sparkled at times. Here are five things to know from the throwback night … 

—- Samardzija walked off to a standing ovation after throwing 112 pitches. He was charged with two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Ignore the record and ERA for a second — his FIP is 3.37 and his xFIP is 2.95. He really is having a very good and underrated season. 

—- Here’s another one for your Samardzija file: Over the past two months, he has 82 strikeouts and three walks. 

—- It was a good day in the race for another Brandon Crawford Gold Glove. Adeiny Hechavarria, one of the few in the National League who even approaches Crawford, was traded to the Rays. Crawford added to the reel by gunning a runner down on third and making a nifty spin-and-throw in the fourth to rob Ian Desmond of a hit. 

—- There are nights where Denard Span looks like a game-changer, and this was one of them. He had a single, walk and triple in his first three plate appearances, scoring twice as the Giants built a 5-0 lead. He was spry in center, too 

—- Nolan Arenado was 0 for 4. Apparently that’s legal now. (It was actually his ninth 0 for 4 or worse against the Giants, in 81 games.)

—- Bonus sixth fact since the Giants won a game: Sam Dyson, acquired basically for free, is the new setup man. That didn’t take long, and it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Dyson gave up a single but struck out the other three batters he faced.