Though still early in the season, the Giants already need to wake up their slumbering offense.
A few sparkles of offense for bored AT&T Park fans wasn’t enough Wednesday night as the Colorado Rockies completed the series sweep over the Giants with a 4-2 win.
For very brief moments, Giants bats came to life. In the bottom of the first inning, Angel Pagan singled home Nori Aoki, who was hit by a pitch and stole second before reaching third on an error.
That run broke a 19 at-bat streak in which Giants hitters failed to bring a runner home from scoring position.
Then, in the eighth inning, Matt Duffy knocked out a solo home run, his first in the majors, fatter than his cat Skeeter off Rockies’ reliever Boone Logan. After the game, Duffy traded an unwanted bat, with the Duffman logo on it, for the home run ball.
Manager Bruce Bochy was impressed with Duffy:
“We’ve thrown a lot at this kid and he’s handled it well.”
The isolated offensive outbursts seem to be the product of a revamped, temporary lineup that gave usual bench-warmers Justin Maxwell and Joaquin Arias a start, bumped Duffy to the two spot and pushed Joe Panik to eighth.
Or maybe it was just Jackie Robinson Day juju.
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
The Giants stacked their lineup with righties to stand up to Rockies LHP Tyler Matzek (W, 6 IP, 1-0, 1.80 ERA). It also gave lefties Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Gregor Blanco the day off.
None of those moves made any difference in the end, though, as most of the offensive production came from regulars Aoki and Pagan. Pagan was really the lone offensive wolf, going 3-for-4. And though Aoki managed to cross home, his career-best hit streak stretching from last season was snapped at 17 games.
Bochy and players alike insist that the offensive cold front this early in the year has a lot to do with the pressure of being champions. Hitters are pressing, they say. They’re trying too hard to get those numbers up.
Said Bochy of the slump:
“We’re getting pretty good pitching, offensively we’re still struggling. It’s going to happen … The club’s been through this before … We’re getting tested early, but we’ll get out of it.”
Tim Lincecum (L, 0-1, 2.25 ERA) had a decent start, though his command fluctuated throughout his five innings. He gave up four runs, three earned, on five hits and struck out four.
Three earned runs came from a towering three-run shot to left field from acrobatic third baseman Nolan Arenado in the first inning. Arenado took advantage of a leaked 0-2 slider and cleared Charlie Blackmon, who reached on a leadoff walk, and Troy Tulowitzki off the bases.
Lincecum was happy with his outing, just missed a few crucial pitches:
“It comes down to a matter of execution … (Arenado) is a good off-speed hitting guy, so I just made a mistake … I have to do a better job of calming down in the first inning.”
Bochy was pleased with his outing as well:
“If you take that pitch away, Timmy had a good game.”
The Giants’ bullpen kept them in the game. George Kontos, Yusmeiro Petit and Sergio Romo pitched four innings and gave up zero hits while striking out six, collectively.
With Matt Cain and Travis Ishikawa returning soon, Kontos is making a strong argument for a place on the 25-man roster. Kontos and Jean Machi are on the wire, and at least one would have to be DFA’d to make room.
The Giants continue this 10-game home stand Thursday night, as they start a four game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at 7:15 p.m.