Johnny Cueto was well on his way to a fourth straight win as a Giant. He was cruising, efficient, and recovered from early blunders with three innings of shutout ball. Cueto had dealt 83 pitches in seven innings, he was rolling.
Cueto, however, couldn’t go on. He was replaced on deck in the seventh by Gregor Blanco, thrown into the mix in an attempt to jumpstart the icy offense. Blanco came up empty. The whole offense came up empty, and the Giants suffered their second four-game sweep in AT&T Park history with a 6-2 loss to the Diamondbacks on Thursday afternoon.
Bruce Bochy reiterated his frustration after the game, but was calm:
“We can’t wave a magic wand.”
The Giants offense seemed to be under some sort of spell against these Diamondbacks. And but for a moment it looked like that spell was waning, thanks to a hapless Shelby Miller.
Miller took the mound coming off of a 1-1/3 inning outing against the Padres, and fared only a bit better Thursday.
He held the Giants to one hit through two before collapsing in the third, giving up a leadoff walk to Cueto, then Denard Span and Joe Panik to load the bases. His fourth consecutive walk, to Hunter Pence, put the Giants on the board and a double play ball from Belt scored the Giants second, and final, run. Said Bochy:
“They were trying to give us the win there. If it weren’t for those walks, we probably would have been shut out.”
Miller had Arizona in a hole, but long reliever Tyler Wagner hoisted them right back out. He paralyzed an already pretty immobile rally and dealt five innings of shutout ball for his first career win. Matt Duffy said they had their chance with Miller on the mound, and Wagner’s command down in the zone brought them right back to the outside:
“We didn’t take full advantage of the opportunity that was presented.”
This offense is clearly out of sync. Duffy, who was struggling coming into this series, went 6-for-11 in the last three games (including two of the Giants’ three hits on Thursday). While Buster Posey, who’s bat was crackling for the last home stand against the Dodgers, went hitless with runners in scoring position this time around.
Perhaps that ‘one big hit’ will get things rolling again; the heart of the lineup in Thursday’s loss looked to be pressing a little too hard. The pressure shouldered on the batter facing runners in scoring position is mounting.
Bochy said he hoped his offense isn’t pressing. It’s too early in the season, he noted, to be feeling that kind of pressure. Duffy said it’s worth taking a ‘mental day’ to take a step back and re-evaluate.
Duffy worked with Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens during his day off to calm his swing down. He said that helped:
“I was rushing to the ball…You see a good pitch to hit and maybe your eyes light up.”
Posey took the day off Thursday and Brandon Belt had Wednesday to rest. Bochy won’t say if he’ll tweak the lineup, but giving a few players days may have a Duffy-effect.
In theory, this offense is lethal. Bochy said it’s only a matter of time:
“That’s what we’re missing, a timely hit. … I don’t worry, it’s frustrating, but I don’t worry.”