In their AT&T Park homecoming Monday night the Giants put an end to Cincinnati’s six-game winning streak and continued the turnaround they started in their last game in Pittsburgh, delivering a win to a hometown crowd of 31,156, in entertaining fashion.
San Francisco (21-21) did something it couldn’t seem to do in the state of Pennsylvania — hit with runners in scoring position. The Giants did it seemingly effortlessly in each of the first three innings, and in the sixth just for good measure. It was as if they hadn’t spent six of the last seven games in the Keystone State scuffling, instead having come straight from their sweep in Atlanta home to San Francisco without skipping a beat.
The Reds (14-28), fresh off a four-game sweep of the Dodgers in LA, offered offensive answers to three of the Giants’ scoring innings but their efforts came up short in a 10-7 win for the home nine.
This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.
The Giants gave Chris Stratton (W, 4-3, 4.88 ERA) six runs to play with early and despite giving up nine hits, two of which left the park, he kept his club in the game. He was pulled without recording an out in the sixth, departing with a 6-4 lead after allowing a solo round-tripper (5) to Scott Schebler (a lifetime .244 hitter), and following it with a walk to catcher Tucker Barnhart, who had taken him deep (3) two innings prior.
Pierce Johnson came in to mop up and the Reds failed to scratch a run across. Rosell Herrera grounded into a fielders choice, and Buster Posey caught a Billy Hamilton foul tip for strike three and flipped a strike of his own to second base to gun down Barnhart attempting to steal.
Manager Bruce Bochy felt the sixth inning was pivotal and he was impressed with the way Johnson got the Giants off the field:
“Johnson’s job coming into a 6-4 game — they’ve got the tying run at the plate and there’s a man on first base — he’s got a big role there. That sixth inning was a key inning there and he did a great job. Buster’s throw there — what a beautiful throw. He came out of the chute and put it right on the money. To me that was one of the turning points in the game. Your reliever comes in and stops things.”
Bochy hoped Stratton could eat some innings since Derek Holland, who pitched 6-1/3 Sunday was the first starter to see the sixth inning since Ty Blach went 7-2/3 on May 5, but nevertheless San Francisco was forced to rely heavily on its bullpen again.
The skipper said:
“You’re hoping to get six. There’s games when five is enough, but if you do it on a consistent basis it’s gonna catch up to you. So yeah I did try to push Stratton, but I was at a point where I had to go get him tonight. He’s one of those guys that can get us deep in the ballgame. To be honest, it’s gonna have to get just a tad better there, to where we are pitching to the sixth and seventh inning as starters.”
Stratton was disappointed that he wasn’t able to stay in the game longer as well:
“I wish I could’ve gotten a little deeper in the game there. I hate five innings and diving but I competed the best I could with what I had today.”
Meanwhile the Giants chased Reds righty Sal Romano (L, 2-4, 4.84 ERA) from the game after just 2-1/3 innings. Romano allowed Andrew McCutchen two doubles down the left field line, representing his 1,499th and 1,500th career hits before exiting the game, and a total of eight hits and six earned runs before being replaced by Jackson Stephens.
McCutchen was cavalier about his 1,500th hit saying all it really means is that he’s played long enough to achieve the milestone:
“It’s not a big deal, because I don’t want to stop at 1,500, so it’s just another hit. Hopefully I get 1,500 more.”
In his first game since being called up to replace Alen Hanson (left hamstring), Austin Slater entered the game in a double-switch in the sixth to play left field. He wasted no time in making a case for himself at the big league level.
Slater opened the sixth by walking, stole second base and was eventually scored on a Posey double. In total the rally he started would bring nine Giants to bat and net three runs, giving the Giants a 9-4 lead and bringing him up to lead off the next inning as well. He took that opportunity to knock a single to center and steal another bag.
Unfortunately for Slater, he has little experience in the infield and the Giants need infielders more than another outfielder right now. Bochy has been forthright with him about the short lifespan of this call-up.
The manager said:
“I don’t think he’s gonna play a lot of infield. [Learning infield] usually takes a lot of work, that’s a winter project. He’s having such a good year down [in Sacramento]. I think in the top three in triple-A as far as OPS. So really we just want him concentrating on having a good year, but it’s pretty nice to know you have a guy like this playing well.”
The Giants would add one more run in the eight on a Brandon Belt solo home run (7). Belt finished with team-highs in hits (3) and RBIs (3), adding a pair of runs scored as well.
Things got dicey in the ninth when José Váldez came in for the Giants and allowed a pair of singles and a three run dinger (7) to former Giant Adam Duvall, but in the end it wasn’t enough for the Reds to come back.
The Giants are 10-14 against right-handed starters and Romano was the 11th straight righty they’ve faced. The Reds have two more in store for them as southpaw Ty Blach (3-3, 4.20 ERA) will take on right-hander Tyler Mahle (3-4, 3.86 ERA) at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday. And Wednesday will be a matchup between rookie lefty Andrew Suarez (1-2, 4.57 ERA) and the newly minted Reds righty Matt Harvey (0-2, 6.10 ERA). Harvey was acquired from the Mets for catcher Devin Mesoraco last Tuesday after New York DFA’d the “Dark Night” and he refused to accept an assignment in the minors.
Alen Hanson had an MRI Monday. The results show that his hamstring injury is slightly worse than the team initially believed
Manager Bruce Bochy said:
“We thought that it was so mild it would [just] be a couple days, but he had an MRI today and they’re guessing 10 to 14 days. We’re hoping for less [because] this kid was really playing some great ball — good second base, providing power and speed. He was doing a nice job.”
Joe Panik, who is recovering from a surgery to repair a ligament in his thumb, is on schedule with his recovery and is expected to return in a couple of weeks according to Bochy:
“He’s doing well he played catch today and he’ll continue that, then he’s gonna start dry swinging, I think at the end of this week with the bat. And then he’s probably a couple weeks away from starting rehab.”
Madison Bumgarner threw his first bullpen since fracturing his left pinkie knuckle at the end of Spring Training and is feeling “completely normal.” He is expected to return in early June. … Mark Melancon is still rehabbing from issues in the wake of surgery to treat pronator syndrome. He joined Bumgarner in throwing a bullpen session, throwing 25 pitches Monday.
Of his injured closer, Bochy said:
“I think he’s got another pen in three days, then he’ll face hitters Thursday.”
Regarding the lengthy disabled list, he added:
“Unbelievable, isn’t it? You’d think we were playing rugby or football here.”
Julie Parker is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @insidethepark3r on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.