Reporting from ORACLE PARK
The Giants’ recent struggles have been well-documented, with a simple explanation: They haven’t swung the bats well, leaving the pitching staff to carry an unbalanced burden while leaving little room for error on the mound.
San Francisco flashed occasional signs of life offensively Saturday, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Texas Rangers, who picked up their second straight against San Francisco with a 9-3 win at Oracle Park.
The rough stretch continues for the Giants, who have now lost six of their last seven games.
After allowing five earned runs in a no-decision against the Oakland A’s, Alex Cobb returned to the mound to play the role of stopper against a Texas club that leads the American League in numerous offensive categories. The right-hander didn’t have his best stuff in 4-1/3 innings of work, allowing six earned runs, nine hits and one walk while striking out two Rangers.
Shortstop Corey Seager was the first to take advantage of Cobb, back spinning a sinker at the top of the zone over the center field fence for a solo shot to open up the scoring. Texas plated three more against Cobb in the fourth when Mitch Garver cashed in with an RBI single, Ezequiel Duran contributed with a sacrifice fly, and Leody Tavaras added an RBI single of his own to make it 3-1.
Manager Gabe Kapler said Saturday wasn’t Cobb’s best outing:
“Obviously he’s a guy we’re always depending on and we believe he can go deep into a game –– he’s done a nice job for us all season. I don’t think it was his best outing and (Cobb will) come back next time and get ‘em.”
Cobb escaped the fourth with an inning-ending double play ball off the bat of Marcus Semien. He departed in the fifth after allowing a walk and two singles to load the bases, making way for left-hander Alex Wood, who was strong in a relief role. The southpaw finished four innings and yielded six hits and allowed three earned runs.
The game unraveled in the middle innings when J.P. Martinez cracked a sacrifice fly and Duran added his second RBI of the night with a single to left to make it 6-2. Texas scored three more times in the ninth when Seager and Garver each added RBI singles to help the cause.
After being held to just three hits on Friday night in the series opener, the Giants had a bit more life in them from an offensive standpoint, but it still wasn’t enough.
After Seager’s first inning homer, the Giants answered back in the home half. With two away, Wilmer Flores – arguably the hottest hitter in California right now – rapped a double down the left field line to set up a scoring opportunity for Patrick Bailey against Rangers starter Andrew Heaney.
Bailey, batting right-handed, lined an 0-1 changeup to left for a base-hit that miraculously scored Flores – not a fast runner or remotely close to one – from third thanks to a gutsy send from third base coach Mark Hallberg. The throw from left field was on line, but a tad low and it skipped away from Garver behind the plate. Flores would’ve been out by 15 feet, but San Francisco caught a break and displayed just how desperate they were to put any type of damage on the scoreboard.
The Rangers were conservative with Heaney and pulled him from the game with the bases juiced and one out in just the second inning. Manager Bruce Bochy called on sidearmer Grant Anderson, who immediately rolled up a 3-6-1 double play to retire the side.
Anderson would be a pain for the Giants in the next couple innings, but Michael Conforto tagged him for a solo-shot in the fourth. It was the 15th homer of the season for San Francisco’s designated hitter and it nearly splashed down in McCovey Cove, but settled deep into the right field arcade to make it 4-2.
Heliot Ramos was rewarded a start on Saturday and with the Giants down to their final two outs, the right fielder crushed a solo homer to left off left-hander Brock Burke for his first big league homer to add another run to try and cut the deficit.
On his long-awaited feat, Ramos said he was excited to rub it in the face of his older brother, Henry, who was recently promoted by the Cincinnati Reds:
“It feels great. Yeah. Now I can tell my brother that I hit my first one harder than him – it felt great.”
Ramos, 23, was a first-round selection by the Giants in the 2017 MLB Draft and has endured a long road to the big leagues filled with inconsistencies at the plate and injuries. Despite the possibility of soon returning to Sacramento, he’s hit the ball harder than any Giant the last few nights. Kapler looked back at his triple on Friday night:
“Happy for him. He’s worked really hard for a long time. The last couple of nights he’s hit two balls on the button – the two hardest balls we hit the last few nights have been hit by Heliot.”
The Giants will try to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Rangers on Sunday afternoon and they’ll have their ace, Logan Webb (9-9, 3.38 ERA), to rely on as they face righty Dane Dunning (9-4, 3.21 ERA).
The Giants celebrated their 1993 season ahead of Saturday’s contest, bringing back several members of their 103-win team. Barry Bonds, Darren Lewis, Mike Benjamin, Royce Clayton, Steve Scarsone and Trevor Wilson were among the names recognized on the field in a brief pregame ceremony. Former Candlestick Park public address announcer Sherry Davis and Stacey Beck, widow of former closer Rod Beck, were also in attendance – Davis introduced the alumni and Beck threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Steven Rissotto has covered the San Francisco Giants for SFBay since 2021. He is the host of RizzoCast, a baseball interview show featuring players, coaches, media and fans. He attends San Francisco State University and will major in Journalism and minor in education.