Giants a little bit short of everything

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Giants a little bit short of everything

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Pablo Sandoval sat on the dirt, his legs forming a perfect 90-degree angle as he blew a gum bubble and silently bemoaned his short-hopped throw to first on Allen Craigs seventh-inning single. The visual shrieked futility, resignation, and a long and painful winter examining what happens when a good baseball team finds itself a little bit short of everything in October.At least that is the appearance as the shards of St. Louis 8-3 win over the Giants in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series are picked over. The Giants didnt pitch enough when it mattered, hit enough when it mattered, or field enough the one time it really mattered. They were just short of okay, when even okay is insufficient.And because there is just enough grumbling to go around, the 3-1 deficit they face going into Barry Zitos start seems well nigh insurmountable.And the problems seem to move from game to game to game. In Game 1, Madison Bumgarner got kicked around the lot, and the Giants got close but stopped hitting after the fourth inning. In Game 3, they hit plenty but scored only one. And in Game 4, Tim Lincecum couldnt find his fastball, Hector Sanchez couldnt find a short hop from the outfield and their nine leadoff hitters could manage only one hit, and that well after the game was competitively extinguished.So of course theyre down, 3-1. They should be down, 3-1. Their play says so. And if there is a rally in them (and only four of 33 teams have gone down 3-1 in an LCS and won), their play across the board must be, well, less like what theyre doing now.And all they have to claim as their own momentum-builders are the memories of the Cincinnati series, and Zitos left arm. They believe fine, but they have no evidence to back it up.Their offense was two homers by the freshly de-goated Hunter Pence, and the struggling Sandoval. But the rest of their work product suffered again.And it starts with Lincecum, who used 91 pitches to get through 22 hitters, but couldnt navigate the two jams he did create for himself one in the first, that was capped by Matt Hollidays line single and Craig's subsequent sacrifice fly, and one in the fifth that finished with RBI singles from Holliday and Yadier Molina.The first put the Giants in a hole. The second piled dirt on top of them. And the culprit, ultimately, was a fastball that refused to behave as it once did, or as he desired. It either avoided the strike zone or got hit when it achieved it, and only when he changed his pitch selection did things improve.There wasnt a lack of confidence in any of my pitches or a (lack of) conviction, he said in his typical slightly less than fully audible monotone. They just werent hitting the spots I needed them to.In addition, throwing 25 pitches in the first and 19 in the second set him on a course for a quick outing, which the Giants needed the way they needed a dugout flood.That second inning was a little bit laborious, he said, referring to the only inning in which the Cardinals got baserunners who didnt score. But that third and fourth was a little bit better. I thought I was going to carry it a little bit further in the game, but like I said, I ran into some bumps in the fifth.The biggest bump was Hollidays single, which scored Matt Carpenter from second after Angel Pagans throw, which was on line but a bit short, skipped past catcher Hector Sanchez, allowing Carpenter to evade being thrown out at the plate by about three full seconds. When Molina followed two batters later with his single, Lincecum was done.And the bullpen, being asked to juggle cleavers while those around them dont, cratered, allowing two more runs in the sixth and seventh, and rendering Sandovals ninth-inning home run inconsequential.Just not quite enough after every turn of the game the Giants story in this series. And now Barry Zito tries to defy all that with an outing as good as Ryan Vogelsongs or Matt Cains. And an outing that might inspire some actual hits in important moments. And a defensive play that must be made at a critical juncture.Thats a lot to ask a pitcher, but the Giants have been trying to win this series with two starters, two hitters and a lineup that defies tweaking. So far, they have gotten what such a manpower shortage deserves, and they are out of mulligans, excuses and speeches.

Listless Giants roughed up by Pirates in ejection-filled series opener

Listless Giants roughed up by Pirates in ejection-filled series opener

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Pittsburgh Pirates kept clearing the fences, and the San Francisco Giants were left arguing plate umpire Chris Conroy's tough strike zone.

Even Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle understood the beef.

Andrew McCutchen hit a three-run homer and had four RBIs, Gerrit Cole won for the fifth time in six starts, and the Pirates beat San Francisco 10-3 on Monday night.

"I think there was some frustration really all night," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who watched most of the game from his office after an ejection in the second. "I don't think he had a real good night, to be honest, as far as consistency, but that really had nothing to do with what happened tonight. We gave up three-run homers."

Jordy Mercer added a three-run shot of his own in the eighth to further back Cole (8-7), 5-1 in his last eight starts. That lone defeat came June 30 as San Francisco swept the Pirates at Pittsburgh from June 30-July 2 - the Giants' first in the series since 2009.

This time, Pittsburgh immediately jumped on San Francisco starter Matt Cain (3-9), who matched the longest losing streak of his career at eight games - also done from July 28, 2015-May 10, 2016.

Bochy was tossed by Conroy for arguing balls and strikes in support of Cain moments after McCutchen connected, the skipper's second time being tossed this year. San Francisco pitching coach Dave Righetti then got tossed in the ninth.

"It was a tough zone," Hurdle said. "They lost two people on their side thrown out of the game."

Cole allowed two runs on six hits in six innings, struck out four and walked four.

He improved to 4-1 in six career starts against San Francisco. The Pirates won their seventh straight game at AT&T Park and ninth in 10, including sweeps both last year and in 2015.

Buster Posey hit a pair of RBI singles in San Francisco's fourth loss in five games.

McCutchen hit his 18th homer as the Pirates cleared the fences in San Francisco for a sixth straight game. His RBI groundout in the first started things off for a Pittsburgh club that had lost back-to-back games on the heels of a season-best, six-game winning streak, including a 13-3 flop in the finale against the Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field.

Josh Bell and Starling Marte each doubled home a run and Josh Harrison added an RBI single.

"This offense is good, we've shown that," McCutchen said.

Cain matched his second-shortest outing of the year at four innings and is winless in his last 11 starts, the longest by a Giants pitcher since the right-hander went 15 outings without a victory during his previous eight-game skid.

CHEERS TO THE HOME RUN KING:
Former slugger Barry Bonds, who played for both teams, received a greeting on the scoreboard for his 53rd birthday but the career home run king wasn't in the stands.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Pirates: OF Gregory Polanco, who strained his left hamstring Friday at Colorado and landed on the 10-day disabled list, tested his leg with some straightaway running and was going to do some riding on the stationary bike with the hopes he can hit in the cage soon. Hurdle said he did witness Polanco scurry across a street to avoid being hit by a car, then acknowledged it wasn't that close a call. ... With an off day Thursday at San Diego, the starters will get an extra day of rest.

Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto played catch and said the trouble spots on three of his pitching fingers are greatly improved. He said they aren't true blisters. The plan is for him to play catch again Tuesday and perhaps throw off the mound Wednesday if all continues to go well. ... Closer Mark Melancon had the day off as he recovers from a second DL stint with a strained forearm. He will throw a bullpen session Tuesday, Bochy said, and face hitters this weekend in Los Angeles if ready.

UP NEXT:
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (6-3, 3.08 ERA) is 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA in seven starts since returning from the DL on June 12, just more than a month after surgery for testicular cancer. He seeks his first decision against the Giants in two starts.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 3.57) tries again for his first victory of 2017 in his third outing back from missing nearly three months following a dirt bike accident April 20 in Colorado.

Bruce Bochy ejected in second inning vs Pirates after arguing with umpire

Bruce Bochy ejected in second inning vs Pirates after arguing with umpire

Bruce Bochy's night didn't last very long.

The Giants manager was ejected in the top of the second inning Monday after arguing with the home plate umpire.

The argument came after a three-run homer by Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Bochy appeared to be voicing frustrating with the strike zone.

Bochy came out to argue with Chris Conroy and the home plate umpire threw him out almost immediately.

McCutchen's home run put the Pirates up 6-0 in the second inning.