Bochy: 'We just didn't play winning baseball'
SAN FRANCISCO -- Clutch hitting is a difficult stat to quantify, but it's easy to see when an entire team isn't doing it.
The Giants came to the plate with runners in scoring position 23 times in the three-game series against the Cubs, which ended in a 2-1 defeat Sunday afternoon. They delivered with hits in just four of those opportunities, and one was a bunt single. That .174 average is only slightly worse than San Francisco's performance over the past 32 games, when the team has hit .197 with runners in scoring position, earned a 9-23 record, and dropped into last place in the NL West.
[RECAP: Cubs 2, Giants 1]
"In all my years I haven't seen a team quite go through such a hard time getting runs in like we're having right now," said Bruce Bochy, who has been an MLB manager for 19 years and seen a number of last-place seasons with the Padres. "It's the same thing. We couldn't get a big hit."
It all starts with team leader Buster Posey, who is in the midst of his worst career slump and admitted after going 0-for-4 against the Cubs that he's "probably" pressing at the plate.
"We're not playing good baseball," Posey said. "I've been going out of the strike zone the past few games."
Posey is now hitless in his last six games, going 0-for-18 with 16 runners left on base. But Bochy isn't singling anyone out.
"It can't be Buster," he said after the reigning NL MVP struck out twice and left six runners on base. "The other guys in the lineup gotta come through."
More than anyone on Sunday, it was starting pitcher Tim Lincecum coming through at the plate. He notched his second career multi-hit game and backed it up with seven innings of four-hit ball.
Lincecum's strong outing only augmented the offensive struggles. The Giants starter rebounded from his worst start of the season against Cincinnati on Monday to record 10 strikeouts. Unfortunately for Lincecum and San Francisco, two of the Cubs' four hits left the yard, and the Giants' offense, which hasn't produced a home run in eight games, continued to hide.
"He really competed very well today," Bochy said. "I was very, very proud of Timmy, of how he pitched and how he played today. It's a shame we couldn't get him a win."
"You throw the ball like that, you deserve to win," Posey said. "Unfortunately today, we couldn't pick him up."
While Lincecum enjoyed rare success at the plate, the guys the team counts on to produce did not. Hunter Pence extended his hitting streak to seven games with a harmless two-out single in the eighth inning, but he left seven runners on base and squandered a bases-loaded opportunity in the third on the first pitch.
Brandon Belt didn't leave any runners on base, but he struck out in each of his four trips to the plate. It wasn't even his worst offensive day this month; Belt fanned five times back on July 8.
After Friday's loss, Bochy talked about playing for pride. But after the Cubs completed the sweep Saturday, the word Bochy repeated was "shame."
[REWIND: 'Pride involved' as pressing Giants search for answers]
"This shouldn't happen," Bochy said. "We just didn't play winning baseball."
Posey took it a step further, saying the team isn't even playing "good baseball."
Still, there's no white flag being waved in the clubhouse just yet.
"It just takes a couple things going right to springboard us into something positive," Lincecum said.
After dropping seven of 10 at home to start the second half in the cellar, the Giants need something positive and culture-changing. Maybe Monday's pep talk from President Obama will help.