The Giants are 0-6 when trailing after eight innings this season. A good ol’ ninth inning comeback is just one good swing away from shattering the glass, and Eduardo Nunez gave the best swing he could with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth Thursday.
Ball met barrel, then D.J. LeMahieu’s glove for the 4-6-3 double play to hand the Colorado Rockies a 3-1 win over the Giants, said Bruce Bochy:
“We owe ourselves two or three comebacks because we’ve lost some tough ones. And you thought that was gonna happen tonight, but we came up short.”
Two or three? Bochy might be playing this skid a little modest. The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight, a streak that’s bubbling with much more promise and with devastatingly little result this year.
This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.
A comeback, too, would have glazed over a costly mistake suddenly amplified at the games’ conclusion.
Madison Bumgarner (L, 0-2, 3.43 ERA) served up a first-pitch fastball to Trevor Story with a runner on. Story blasted it deep to left field and, in essence, put the game away for the Rockies. Said Bumgarner:
“Yeah…yeah. I’d certainly like to have that one back.”
Bumgarner hesitated to pin his second loss of the season on that pitch alone, though:
“I felt the stuff was there, but I wasn’t as sharp as I wanted to be. … I didn’t make a whole lot of great pitches tonight. Did ok to keep us in the game though.”
Bumgarner worked through a rough outing, taking 101 pitches to sort through six innings of work. He struck out eight, allowing three runs — Mark Reynolds added one on for good measure toward as Bumgarner neared 100 pitches.
The bats behind him would get a whole lot of nothing out of Jon Gray, who flourished with a swing-happy Giants team gunning early and often. Gray departed the game in the fourth just 34 pitches deep after landing awkwardly on an already vulnerable foot.
Chris Rusin came in relief and got the win (W, 1-0, 1.69 ERA). The LHP long-man threw a lineup set to face a RHP off.
Brandon Belt broke an 0-for-18 skid with a rally-igniting single that escaped Story’s grasp in short. Conor Gillaspie worked a single to right to put birthday boy Hunter Pence — who’d reached on a fielder’s choice — at third with one out. Eduardo Nunez notched the sac fly and, bam, like that, the Giants were not shut out.
Greg Holland entered the ninth to shut it down, but Joe Panik, Hunter Pence ground out some infield hits and Gillaspie loaded the bases with a walk. Nunez put good money on a drive to what would usually be a right field gap, but LeMahieu was there waiting. Balls weren’t bouncing their way, as Bochy would say.
Nunez almost reached base in the fifth when Nolan Arenado swooped up a ground ball, peered awkwardly at the Giants’ dugout, and made a bad throw to first base that forced Reynolds off the base. Nunez was called out in real time and, again, upon review despite a near clear visual of Reynold’s losing control of the ball as he fell of the bag and Nunez crossed it.
Arenado stunting at the Giants dugout was the weirdest part of it all.
Also, Neil Ramirez and Ty Blach tossed three innings and gave up just one hit to, technically, keep the Giants within reach of their first ninth inning comeback in more than a year. The bullpen’s given up just two runs over 7-1/3 innings this home stand.
Johnny Cueto (2-0, 4.50 ERA), who’s hoarding all the wins for himself, will face Colorado’s Tyler Anderson Friday night for Game 2 of the series.
Brandon Crawford was left off Thursday’s lineup with a family emergency. HIs wife, Jalynn, announced on Instagram that her sister passed away suddenly from an asthma attack. Crawford drove to Los Angeles last night to be with the family and returned to San Francisco at around 5:30 before the game. He pinch hit for Tim Federowicz in the eighth, grounding out. Crawford left the clubhouse quickly after the game ended, but Bochy was grateful for his loyalty to the team:
“He comes up to join us and help us win a ballgame, it says a lot about Brandon.”
Buster Posey is making positive strides back from his head injury. He did cardio and lifted weights today and Bruce Bochy said he should be ramping up activities tomorrow.
Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.