Giants’ bullpen implodes against surging Mets

AT&T PARK — Kensuke Tanaka in his Major League debut endeared himself to Giants fans with a great defensive play.

In the top of the second, Tanaka robbed Andrew Brown of a potential home run with a leaping catch at the top of the left-field wall. Tanaka later got his first career hit and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Tuesday’s starter Barry Zito says the 32-year old Tanaka has many likable qualities:

Giants pitcher Barry Zito

Video: CSN Bay Area

“He’s been around but he just has that excitement when he plays and I think that’s great and that’s what we need. We need to have a little more fun I think when we’re playing right now and just enjoy the game.”

Tanaka was 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. He was the good news.

The bad news, the Mets scored five times in the eighth highlighted by a grand-slam from Marlon Byrd to beat the Giants 10-6.

It appeared the game was headed in the right direction for the Giants in the early goings. In the second, Hunter Pence with an infield single to short and Brandon Belt’s base hit to right moves Pence to third.

Belt stole second and advanced to third on an errant throw by catcher Anthony Recker. Recker’s throw was low and he nearly beaned pitcher Dillon Gee who had to duck to avoid getting hit. The ball bounced into center field allowing Pence to score from third.

Pablo Sandoval later added an RBI groundout and a sacrifice fly. Pinch-hitter Tony Abreu also drove in a run with an infield single.

But the Mets scored three times in the fourth. Brown exacted some revenge with a two-run single to left and Omar Quintanilla added a run scoring single to center.

In the sixth, Recker atoned for his throwing error taking Zito deep to left for a two-run homer.

But the wheels came off in the eighth after Bruce Bochy made a double switch to bring in Jeremy Affeldt and replaced Belt at first base with Buster Posey. The Mets already had a runner on first when Affeldt gave up a single to Juan Lagares and a wild pitch during Eric Young’s plate appearance where Young eventually walked.

After a sac-fly by Daniel Murphy, and a walk to David Wright, Bochy made another pitching change for young Jake Dunning.

Dunning had no margin for error and on his first pitch, he coughed up a grand-slam to Byrd throwing a hanging slider.

Bochy says his young reliever missed on his location and it costs him:

Giants manager Bruce Bochy

Video: CSN Bay Area

“Jake’s been doing such a nice job and it just kind of spun up there on him and I put him in a tough situation. Plus he threw last night and he made a mistake. He hasn’t made many of them and really he has pitched well since he’s been up here.”

True, he has pitched well, and had not allowed a run in his last nine outings over 10-1/3 innings. But that all changed on one swing.

Given the injuries to players like Angel Pagan and Ryan Vogelsong, this team is just going through the motions playing some very bland and boring baseball.

Last year, the Giants were no fluke posting a 94-68 record in winning the National League West crown. While they initially struggled in the division series and the league championship series, the team had very solid pitching and timely hitting claiming a second World Series title in three years.

Jeremy Affeldt did not get the loss Tuesday night but he should have given that he gave up three runs, four if you include the inherited runner from Jose Mijares to start the top of the eighth.

In 2012, George Kontos was one of the unsung stars of the bullpen allowing only 34 hits and three home runs in 43-2/3 innings with an ERA of 2.47 in 44 games. In 38 games this season, Kontos’ ERA has ballooned to 4.76 and in 39-2/3 innings he’s given up 42 hits and five home runs.

Mike Kickham has been recalled three times from Triple-A Fresno this season and he’s 0-3 with a whopping 12.15 ERA in four games, surrendering 25 hits and 18 earned runs in only 13-1/3 innings.

Add to that the role players like Cole Gillespie who was designated for assignment after going 0-for-7 with the Giants. Juan Perez who briefly became a fan favorite for his flashy defense was batting only .238 in 16 games and is back in Fresno.

Recently, the Giants signed veteran Jeff Francouer to a minor-league deal. Francouer has a cannon of an arm but he was released by the Kansas City Royals batting only .208 with three home runs and 13 RBIs. Expect Francouer to be called up just after the All-Star break.

As a result, the Giants have the worst record in the majors since May 14 with a record of 17-34 (.333). They’ve also lost their last six series since they beat the Padres back on June 19.

The recipe for disaster: bad pitching, shoddy defense, and poor offense as the Giants had 13 hits yet scored only six runs. They left 11 runners on base and were 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The team is just 6-for-their-last 62 in those situations.

While the Giants wear a World Champions patch on their right arm, it’s a big bulls-eye on their backs and nobody in Major League Baseball is feeling sorry for them. The Giants need to worry about this season and stop looking in the rear-view mirror.

Notes

The Giants have dropped seven of their last eight games and 13 of their last 15. … The Giants are a season high nine-games under .500 in last place in the National League West, 6-1/2 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. … Zito allowed five earned runs, the most he’s allowed in a home start this season. The last time he gave up five or more runs at home was Aug. 2, 2012 when he allowed seven runs to the Mets. … Byrd’s grand slam was the seventh of his career, his first since Sept. 26, 2009.