Giants bullpen bumbles away bizarre loss

Some Giants fans have the 2015 postseason written off. The Giants battled through a bizarre Tuesday night game against the last-place Reds begging to differ.

Cincinnati eventually beat the Giants 9-8 thanks to a 10th inning Todd Frazier solo-shot off a flat Sergio Romo (L, 0-5, 3.04 ERA) that finally capped a late-night weird-fest. They put up one heck of a fight, despite the loss, said Bruce Bochy:

“Wild game. Entertaining but tough loss. Boys battled hard.You hate to come away with a loss the way they played. I feel for those guys because they kept coming.”

This story has been updated with post-game quotes and additional material from the Giants clubhouse.

The Giants had their backs against the wall, as the franchise frequently does, down three runs in the bottom of the ninth with the fearsome Aroldis Chapman (W, 4-4, 1.80 ERA) on the mound.

Angel Pagan got it all started with a leadoff double down the third base line and Matt Duffy brought him home thanks to a throwing error from Frazier at third to first. Buster Posey sent a first pitch fastball to left to tie the game at 8-8 before Marlon Byrd and Brandon Belt popped out. No walk-off tonight.

The game was just strage. Madison Bumgarner and Mike Leake both made pinch hitting appearances. Bumgarner, down 0-2 in the count against Chapman in the eighth, worked him for a walk. He’s the first pitcher to ever reach base against Chapman, and the first batter all season to work a walk on an 0-2 count. How ’bout that. Bum said he kept it simple, just like always:

Certainly a lot better than striking out … Anything productive, that’s all you can ask for. (The goal) was to hit the ball. Same as it always is.”

He added, on the odd matchup:

“It’s tough, no matter who you face, that’s the big leagues. Nothing easy about it for sure.You just gotta try to lay off the balls and swing at strikes. That’s really all there is too it.”

The top of the seventh lasted 38 minutes, during which the Reds turned a two-run deficit into a three-run lead, the Giants used four relievers and threw out two runners at home — one, on a long, successful challenge by Bruce Bochy. Cue the Benny Hill tune.

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

A more thorough rundown of that inning would be taxing, so let’s just say it was a bullpen mess. Josh Osich nearly gave up a run on a throwing error to first. Skip Schumaker, who walked, was called safe at home on the play, but was called out upon review.

Javier Lopez gave up an RBI single and Hunter Strickland hit Frazier with a pitch, gave up a game-tying RBI single to Brandon Phillips and a walked-in run. George Kontos gave up the dagger, an RBI single to Ramon Cabrera to give the Reds an 8-5 lead. Bochy said the team beat themselves that inning, a rarity:

“The seventh inning killed us. Couple errors, walks, hit batsman, you’re asking for trouble there … We had two outs, two strikes. Phillips got a big hit there for them and of course we hit a batter there and that made it tough. Then the walk … We pretty much just beat ourselves in that inning.”

That sloppy inning was a ripple effect from a rough start that the offense nearly smoothed over; Chris Heston took the mound riding a five-loss streak and sputtered too early.

Heston reverted back to his late-season struggles, missing the strike zone out the gate. He allowed three runs on 32 pitches in the first, then found his stride and dished eight strikeouts through five innings — on his way to a possible win thanks to the offensive efforts — before his pitch count caught up to him and he yielded the mound to his bullpen.

“First inning kinda got to me there. … We got some early runs up there, that was kind of the focus was go back in there and keep it close.”

The Comcast SportsNet broadcast flashed an eye-catching graphic as Buster Posey came up to bat in the first: A strike zone heat map told viewers that Posey was hitting over .300 this season in every corner except the bottom inside one, where he’s batting a lowly .190.

Reds’ starter John Lamb was into it, pushing a fastball in that icy spot that Posey grounded into a double play to quell the Giants’ first-inning RISP threat and preserve the Reds’ early 3-0 lead.

Lamb, rightly, was looking to hit that spot against Posey again after giving up no-out singles to Kelby Tomlinson and Matt Duffy in the fourth.

Posey was having none of that. He powered the low-and-inside fastball deep to left field to tie the game at 3-3.

Jarrett Parker took care of the tie with his first Major League home run, a solo shot deep to right on the first pitch off Ryan Mattheus.

The loss snapped the Giants’ four-game winning streak.

Notes

The Rockies edged the Dodgers 5-4 in 16 innings to keep Los Angeles’ lead at 7-1/2 games. If the Dodgers had won, they would have needed just 10 wins to secure the West. … Scary moment when Brandon Belt collided with Ivan De Jesus, Jr.’s knee as he slid back to second. Bochy said he’s all good.


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