SAN FRANCISCO – You can measure run prevention with ERA. You can measure run production with OPS. At least six people still take a shine to fielding percentage.
It’s a little tougher to quantify belief. There’s no advanced metrics for confidence. But right now, it’s like someone sucked all the VORP out of the Giants clubhouse.
Madison Bumgarner made a flurry of not-awful pitches in the fifth inning, the Reds hit them in an assortment of ways and the Giants’ struggling offense was such a mismatch against Johnny Cueto that they might as well have panned for gold in McCovey Cove.
The Giants’ 6-2 loss Friday night was their seventh in their last eight home games, and their 13th in 17 overall. They retained their two-game lead in the NL West only because the Dodgers lost.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Giants cold at the plate, drop another to Reds]
But the faces and voices in the clubhouse bore no recognition to a first-place team.
Has it gotten to the point, I asked Bruce Bochy, where the pitchers are beginning to feel they can lose on a single mistake?
“I don’t want our pitchers thinking about that,” the manager said. “It’s not about the hitters not scoring runs or the pitchers not having quality starts. We’ve got to get out of this together. You try harder, but you can’t try too do more than what you need to do.”
You know it’s bad when the manager starts mentioning tenuous moral victories, like shooing Cueto when he was two outs from his fourth complete game and getting the tying run in the on-deck circle.
Or catcher Buster Posey staying aggressive and trying for the force at third base on a bunt, even though his throw wasn’t in time and it left the bases loaded for Bumgarner in the Reds’ five-run fifth.
“The next guy hit a two-run single, so I’m not sure how much difference it made,” Bochy said. “You still want the guys staying aggressive, playing to win. You’re gambling a little there. You’re trying to get the (lead runner) instead of just limiting the damage.”
Posey said he wished he could have taken back that decision, but it was an understandable one to make. That’s the way teams have to play when they face a pitcher like Cueto, who entered with a major league low 1.86 ERA and .173 opponent’s average.
That two-run single that followed, by the way, came when Billy Hamilton took a less than pretty, slashing swing at a 1-2 curveball and blooped it to right field.
The Reds ended up sending 10 men to the plate while collecting six hits off Bumgarner, multiplying by three in one inning the number of hits he had allowed in his previous start at Arizona.
“For the most part I felt we were making pitches and they were getting hits,” Bumgarner said. “It was a frustrating time. You try to minimize the damage and it didn’t happen. They just kept getting hit after hit, whether it was a line drive or a blooper.”
“I’m not saying they didn’t hit any balls hard. They definitely did. It just … kept snowballing.”
Yes, it did. And it does.
And the postgame clubhouse is becoming a quieter and quieter place.