MIAMI – The Giants and Marlins are the dregs of the National League. So you had to figure there would be one game like this during their weekend series.
Who could out-awful whom?
Balls were kicked and overthrown. Runners were stranded at third with less than two outs. Other runners wandered into thoughtless outs.
If you count ties, there were seven lead changes – the last of which came in the eighth inning, when center fielder Andres Torres made yet another mistake in the outfield that allowed the Marlins to go ahead for good in their 6-5 victory Sunday at Marlins Park.
Torres tried to make a diving catch on Jeff Mathis’ drive to left-center field. He came up short and it took a sideways ricochet, allowing Ed Lucas to score all the way from first base.
It was a needless risk, with one out and no runners in scoring position. And it contributed to a loss that prevented the Giants from notching their first winning record on a multi-city road trip all season.
Instead, they had to settle for taking two of three against the NL’s worst team and going 3-3 on their trip to Washington D.C. and Miami.
Starting pitching report
Even in the sixth and final game of this East Coast trip, Madison Bumgarner pitched like he was still operating on Pacific time. He did not appear focused or crisp while allowing four runs in five innings.
Jeff Mathis hit a solo home run in the third inning but Bumgarner really began to labor in the fourth. And mistakes by his teammates compounded the problem as the Marlins scored twice to take a 3-2 lead.
First, Giancarlo Stanton singled and Justin Ruggiano reached on catcher’s interference when his swing clipped Hector Sanchez’s glove and knocked it right off his hand. Sanchez was in pain but remained in the game. Ed Lucas followed with an RBI single, and took second base when Ruggiano, who either missed a sign or momentarily lost his senses, broke for third base on a pitch and stopped before getting caught in a very brief, effortless rundown.
(In the Internets, they refer to this as a TOOTBLAN – thrown out on the bases like a nincompoop.)
Adeiny Hechavarria followed with a single up the middle to score Lucas from second base. Although the Marlins didn’t score again in the inning, first baseman Brandon Belt made an errant throw to second base after Bumgarner had Hechavarria picked off. That mistake forced the left-hander to issue an intentional walk and throw more pitches to get out of the inning.
The long fourth inning might have affected Bumgarner in the fifth. Following a walk and a two-out single, Bumgarner missed badly with a breaking pitch while walking Ruggiano. The ball skipped past Sanchez, who whirled around and couldn’t find it. Donovan Solano scored from second base to put the Marlins up 4-3; and even Ruggiano managed to take second base in Little League fashion.
At least Bumgarner got Lucas to fly out to strand two runners in scoring position and end his day.
After throwing at least seven innings in 10 consecutive starts, the longest by a Giant since Rick Reuschel in 1988, Bumgarner went just four and five innings in his two starts on this road trip. At least the last one at Washington wasn’t his fault, since a lengthy rainstorm halted play after the fourth.
Guillermo Moscoso struck out the side in the sixth and was in line for the victory after the Giants went ahead in the seventh. But Moscoso promptly lost his decision when Christian Yelich drew a leadoff walk and scored on Donovan Solano’s double.
Solano took third on a wild pitch, too. But the Marlins were unable to get him home with the tiebreaking run. Three pitchers recorded three outs, beginning with Moscoso’s strikeout of Stanton. Javier Lopez entered and got Logan Morrison to line out. Then Ruggiano grounded out against Sandy Rosario, who has held opponents to four hits in 31 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Rosario appeared in four of six games on the trip and his 31 appearances leads the club since June 12, when he was recalled from Triple-A Fresno.
At the plate
To borrow a baseball aphorism, when Hunter Pence breaks home run slumps, they stay broken.
His two-run home run in the first inning landed over the center field sculpture, whose designer must have gone on the “It’s A Small World” ride at Disneyland after gobbling magic mushrooms. It was measured at 459 feet – the home run, not the mushrooms – and was the second longest homer in Marlins Park history. Maybe that doesn’t impress you because this is only the second year of baseball in this stadium. But Stanton plays here.
Pence’s homer was just his second since June 30 and it broke a streak of 104 at-bats without one. He also hit an RBI single in the fifth inning that tied the game for the moment.
The Giants missed a chance in the sixth when they had two runners in scoring position with one out. Pinch hitter Marco Scutaro popped up the first pitch and Gregor Blanco lined out.
They went ahead in the seventh, though. Brandon Crawford hit a solo home run – his eighth of the season, and his sixth on the road – off lefty Mike Dunn. Then Pablo Sandoval showed off the obvious difference that subtracting 22 pounds can make. He scored from first base on Hector Sanchez’s double to put the Giants in front.
But the Giants lacked the put-away hit. They had 13 hits but were 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position, and stranded 11.
From getting hit on the hand by a bat to letting a run score on a wild pitch he couldn’t find to a parade of long innings, Sanchez got the everlasting stuffing beaten out of him in this game.
The Marlins announced 23,113 paid. Very clever, Jeffrey Loria, having a girl giraffe mascot on the field to try to distract Brandon Belt. Didn’t work.
The Giants return to AT&T Park to begin a seven-game homestand against the Red Sox and Pirates, who owned two of the top three records in the majors entering Sunday. Tim Lincecum (6-12, 4.38 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound Monday against left-hander Jon Lester (10-7, 4.31). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. PDT. It’ll be Ryan Vogelsong (2-4, 6.75) against right-hander Jake Peavy (9-5, 4.41) on Tuesday and Chad Gaudin (5-2, 3.06) against left-hander Felix Doubront (8-6, 3.95) on Wednesday.