Instant Replay: Giants melt down late, swept by Rockies

Instant Replay: Giants melt down late, swept by Rockies
June 15, 2014, 4:15 pm
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Despite three straight losses, the first-place Giants maintain a 6.5 game lead in the NL West, which is the largest in the MLB. (AP)

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Bruce Bochy disagrees with the plate umpire, leading to his ejection. (AP)


SAN FRANCISCO –- The Rockies entered this weekend series 0-24 when they trailed after seven innings. The Giants were 34-1 when leading after seven complete.

So the Rockies didn’t merely pull off three late rallies to complete a shocking sweep at AT&T Park. They hit the Powerball.

After two ninth-inning meltdowns behind Sergio Romo on Friday and Saturday, this time the Giants lost the lead in the eighth inning Sunday. It was a three-run advantage that Juan Gutierrez and Javier Lopez couldn’t protect in what became a 8-7 loss to the Rockies in front of another stunned sellout crowd.

Gutierrez hadn’t allowed a run at home all season before the Rockies rubbed him out like a Lotto scratcher. Add that to the improbability score.

The Giants might have lost the lead in the eighth but not the game. That happened earlier, when they stranded nine runners over the first four innings. Hector Sanchez, Pablo Sandoval and Madison Bumgarner hit solo homers but the Giants still left the buffet line hungry. 

The worst part: Buster Posey left the game in the fourth inning after taking a foul ball off the mask. It was the second jarring hit to the head he’s taken in the last week. The Giants were in the process of evaluating him.

After being swept in the series, the Giants have lost six of their last seven games.

Starting pitching report
Hector Sanchez replaced Posey behind the plate because someone had to catch Bumgarner. The big left-hander couldn’t very well do that himself. 

Even if he managed to do everything else. 

Bumgarner hit a solo home run, he put down a safety squeeze bunt and he even threw out a runner at third base while backing up the plate. He also curved and cut his way through the Rockies for seven innings, although his four earned runs actually matched his season high.

Bumgarner had lively stuff but was forced to do most of his work out of the stretch. He allowed four runs on six hits and four walks in seven innings and struck out nine. 

He used a pair of double-play grounders to escape two innings but Troy Tulowitzki hit a two-run home run in the third inning and leadoff walks to No.8 hitter D.J. LeMahieu led to runs in the fifth and seventh.

Bumgarner never looked sharper than the sixth inning, when he struck out the side. No wonder. He had just hit his home run, and probably had some extra adrenaline working for him.

His shot in the fifth was his second home run of the season. He’s one away from matching the single-season record in the Giants’ San Francisco era. Don Robinson was the last Giants pitcher to hit three homers, in 1989. 

Three of Bumgarner’s four career home runs have come against the Rockies.

Bullpen report
Gutierrez entered with 16 scoreless innings over 16 home appearances this season, but his streak ended in the eighth after Tulowitzki singled and Drew Stubbs tripled.

Then came an infield single that shortstop Brandon Crawford couldn’t handle, a walk and an RBI forceout that nearly ended the inning when LeMahieu barely beat the relay to first base. Lopez entered to face left-handed pinch hitter Justin Morneau, who stung a 1-1 fastball down the left field line for a two-run double to put the Rockies ahead. 

Lopez had held lefties to a 5-for-30 average this season. Morneau improved to 3-for-4 with a walk in his career against Lopez, but hadn’t faced him since 2008.

At the plate
The Giants had 10 baserunners in Juan Nicasio’s 2-plus innings thanks to four hits, four walks and two Colorado errors. But they only turned that into three runs. 

Bumgarner helped his cause by taking a big rip at a pitch with runners at the corners -- perhaps a bit of a misdirection play, because he bunted the next pitch to score a run and ended up reaching on Nicasio’s errant throw.

The Giants were up 3-0 but didn’t score again in the inning despite having the bases loaded with no outs. Posey grounded into a forceout at the plate, Sandoval lined out and Michael Morse flied out.

They loaded the bases with no outs again in the third inning after two walks and an error. But Bumgarner struck out and Gregor Blanco hit into a double play.

Sanchez batted for Posey in the fourth and hit a pinch home run. Sandoval followed that with his ninth homer of the year. But Adrianza popped up to strand two in that inning, too.

Tyler Colvin singled in a run in the sixth inning but the Giants had two on and no out after that and didn’t maximize that chance, either.

They left 12 on base.

In field
Bumgarner tried to do it all. He even threw out a runner at third base when backing up the plate. Crawford’s throw sailed over the head of Sanchez but Bumgarner caught it and skipped a one-hop throw to Sandoval, who got spiked while making the tag on Josh Rutledge in the seventh inning.

The Giants announced 41,824 paid. If you’re the dad who caught Tulowitzki’s home run with one hand while holding your baby with the other, and then nonchalantly walked up the stairway as if nothing happened, you were officially the coolest dad in the ballpark Sunday. As for everyone else, as the great Ralph Kiner once said, “To all you fathers out there, happy birthday.”

Up next
The Giants are off Monday before beginning a two-game interleague series against the Chicago White Sox on the South Side. Matt Cain (1-4, 3.84 ERA) takes the mound against White Sox left-hander John Danks (5-5, 4.17) on Tuesday and Tim Hudson (7-2, 1.81) faces left-hander Chris Sale (5-1, 1.97) in a showdown matchup Wednesday.

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