September baseball has not been kind to the Giants.
With their season winding down, the Giants wrapped up a four-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 4-2 loss on a sweltering Thursday afternoon to drop the series 3-1.
Jeff Samardzija (L, 10-12, 3.72 ERA) squared off against Pirates righty, Joe Musgrove (W, 10-12, 4.52 ERA). Throughout his career, Samardzija has faced the Pirates 27 times (16 as a starter). In those 27 outings, Samardzija is 6-4, with a 3.06 ERA.
The Pirates got to Samardzija right off the bat in the first inning. With one out, rookie Bryan Reynolds singled to center. Two batters later, Josh Bell lined a base hit to right, moving Reynolds to third. Jose Osuna knocked in the games first run with a double to left, putting the Pirates ahead 1-0.
With one out in the top of the fourth, Samardzija left a fastball over the heart of the plate, which Cole Tucker lined to right field for a triple. Next batter, Kevin Kramer knocked in Tucker with a sac-fly to right-center, extending the Pirates lead to 2-0.
Pittsburgh added on in the fifth inning. A leadoff triple off the bat of Pirates pitcher Joe Musgrove was followed by a single by Adam Frazier, scoring Musgrove and giving the Pirates a 3-0 lead.
The Giants bats finally woke up in the sixth inning. A leadoff single from Buster Posey set up a one-out, runner on the first scenario for Evan Longoria, who came to the plate two batters later and launched a two-run homer to left. The Giants found themselves down by a run, trailing 3-2 through six.
The Giants have struggled during September this season and last, going 5-21 in 2018 and 4-8 so far this year. Bochy discussed why the Giants have struggled down the stretch:
“You know what, it’s disappointing. If you look at a lot of things with September, i don’t want to make excuses, but we are missing some pretty big pieces. If you look at the bullpen, that’s usually caused us problems there. Last year Pablo went down, and we missed him. He’s a bat that can pick guys up and come off the bench. That’s a pretty big bat there that I think the club is missing. Dickerson, he was doing a lot of good things offensively. Like i said, you’ve got to deal with those things, and find a way to win games. It wouldn’t look so bad if we hung on to win that first game.”
A rough day for Samardzija consisted of lots of hard-hit balls from the Pirates. In the top of the seventh, Jacob Stallings launched a solo homer to lead off the inning, extending the Pirates lead to 4-2. Andrew Suarez replaced Samardzija, retiring the Pirates in order.
Samardzija’s final line: 6-1/3 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K’s. Samardzija recapped his inconsistent outing after the game:
“Inconsistent. They were really aggressive out there and I fell behind in too many counts. In those situations with aggressive teams like that, we got some early outs, but the [Cole] Tucker at-bat and a couple other ones where you’re behind in the count, you know they’re swinging. You’ve got to fill up the zone early, then expand late, and we were just a little backwards with that today.”
With Thursday’s game coming to an end, Smith came out for the ninth inning, Burch Smith, that is. Giants closer Will Smith is nursing a back injury and will be held out probably until this weekend. Retiring the side on eight pitches, Smith sent the Giants to the bottom of the ninth, their last chance to overcome the two-run deficit.
A leadoff walk from Joey Rickard to lead off the bottom of the ninth, brought the tying run to the plate, in Donovan Solano. A single to center off the bat of Solano put runners on first and third with nobody out, and all of the sudden the Giants were rallying in the ninth. Back-to-back strikeouts of Austin Slater and Yastrzemski sent Posey to the plate with two outs and the tying run on first. Grounding out to second, the Giants rally was short-lived, and the ballgame was over.
With another loss at home Thursday afternoon, the Giants fall to 31-41 at Oracle Park this season. Post-game, Bochy diagnosed the issue as inconsistency on offense.
“I think more than anything, we have a tough time scoring here. I think with the offense more than anything, we’ve had some pretty good days on the road, but here at home we just have a hard time getting it going. Last night, in the fifth inning, we finally got it going for four innings, and nothing. If you take away that fifth inning (on Wednesday), we only had one guy on the rest of those innings there. Today, he [Musgrove] did throw well, we just couldn’t get anything going. I would say that’s the biggest issue, just being consistent with this offense.”
The seven-game homestand continues Friday against the Miami Marlins (51-94). The Marlins own the worst record in the National League and have lost three in a row. The Giants will send Tyler Beede (4-9, 5.33 ERA) to the mound to square off against Marlins righty Sandy Alcantara (5-12, 4.04 ERA).
- Johnny Cueto made his 2019 debut Tuesday night after his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Prior to Thursday’s game. Bochy provided an update as to when Cueto will pitch next.
- Giants reliever Reyes Moronta underwent surgery Tuesday afternoon to repair his right labrum and shoulder capsule. Bochy provided an update as to how long Moronta will be sidelined.
- In the bottom of the sixth inning, Giants right fielder Jaylin Davis was hit by a pitch on his wrist. After the game, Bochy gave an update on Davis, who was diagnosed with a left wrist contusion. The X-Rays came back negative. Bochy did not have a time-table for how long he will be out.
- Mauricio Dubon has performed well on offense and defense since his promotion to the major leagues a couple of weeks ago. Jeff Samardzija has enjoyed watching the rookie play, especially heads-up defense.
- Dubon’s success on defense thus far is eye-opening because of how smart he plays. Most rookie, middle-infielders won’t develop the type of “Baseball I.Q.” that Dubon already has. He attributes that to just watching a lot of baseball, and learning as much as he can.