The San Francisco Giants gave fans a glimmer of hope heading into the sixth inning, but it all eroded when the San Diego Padres took advantage of a sloppy bullpen.
And somehow, in just a blink of an eye, the San Francisco Giants looked up and saw that the final score was 12-4.
The Giants did show some life in their three-run, third inning. Down 1-0, Conor Gillaspie led off with a double, and then was promptly singled in by the struggling Eduardo Nunez.
The slumping Nunez, who came in hitting .241, ended up 2-for-4 on the night.
Later in the inning, Brandon Belt delivered with a bases-loaded single up-the-middle to put the Giants up 3-1.
Kelby Tomlinson helped set up the three-run, fifth-inning rally with a pinch-hit single. He’s 4-for-7 since being called up.
In the bottom of the sixth, Gorkys Hernandez, who is having better at-bats lately, singled in a run to make it 9-4.
The good news for the Giants is they were better with runners in scoring position Saturday night (3-for-7). In their last seven games, they’ve had two hits or fewer in those type of at-bats in each of their last seven games.
The Giants only got two hits from the seventh inning on, both singles.
Buster Posey had reached base safely in all 16 games he has played this season, but snapped that with a frustrating 0-for-4 night.
Giants fans tried the rally flashlights again, but to no avail.
ON THE MOUND
There was good news and bad news when it came to Giants’ pitching Saturday.
Starting pitcher Cain had another outstanding start, going five innings, giving up just one run, while striking out seven. His breaking ball was filthy, getting a lot of Padres hitters to chase. He walked none.
Giants starting pitchers have been solid over the last five games, with a 2.32 ERA.
But then, the bad.
Matt Cain surrendered the mound to Stratton in the sixth, who was making his 2017 debut. It was one to forget.
Will Myers led off the inning with a single. He would bat twice in the inning. Four runs later, Myers turned on an inside 93 mile-an-hour fastball and launched it three-quarters up the bleachers to give the Padres an insurmountable 9-3 lead.
The Padres tied the game on an Austin Hedges single. And that was the end of the line for Stratton, who gave up five earned runs in a third of an inning. That puts Stratton’s ERA at 13.50.
Neil Ramirez didn’t fare much better. He walked former Giant Hector Sanchez with the bases loaded to give San Diego a 4-3 lead.
In the seventh inning, Ramirez was poised for a scoreless inning, but with a runner at first base and two outs, Erick Aybar struck out but reached base anyway as the ball skidded by Posey.
The next batter Allen Cordoba launched a three-run homer on a 94 mile-per-hour fastball down the middle to put San Diego ahead 12-4.
The six runs in 1.2 innings for Ramirez puts his ERA at 13.06.
Cory Gearrin pitched three scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 1.08.
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Unlike Friday night, both teams played solid defense on Saturday.
In the sixth inning, Arroyo showed great range on a ball hit to his right by Cory Spangenberg. He threw the runner out after backhanding the ball smoothly. Arroyo has definitely not been a liability on the infield.
On that play, however, the Padres scored their sixth run, putting the Giants down 6-3.
Giants Manager Bruce Bochy said after the game he was resting some of his key bullpen arms Saturday, particularly Steven Okert and Mark Melancon which is why he went to Stratton in the sixth. In fact, Melancon was not available to pitch at all Saturday, even in a save situation.
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Matt Cain said he’s been throwing more two-seam fastballs this year, something he hardly did during his career. He told reporters after Saturday’s loss that backup catcher Nick Hundley introduced him to the pitch in spring training. Before that, it’s been all four-seamers.
Bochy made a questionable move to take out Cain after five innings. He only threw 86 pitches and was cruising through the Padres lineup. He was mixing in that breaking ball very well, getting the young Padres hitters to chase.
With his 2.30 ERA, Cain has earned the right to stretch it out. Bochy might have wanted to be a bit cautious with Cain after he left the last game against the Dodgers with an injury after six innings, but the Giants ae fading fast in the standings and need to win games before it’s too late.
Stratton and Ramirez relied too much on the fastball in the sixth inning. The Padres are there to swing the bat, looking dead red. A veteran arm might know to tantalize the hitters with some offspeed pitches and mix it up a bit. Instead, Myers and Cordoba feasted on fastballs up. Part of being in the big leagues–you live and learn. And hopefully, the young Giants bullpen does just that.