Rockies roll Giants behind 13-run fifth inning

Remember when the Giants gave up 12 runs to the Mets in the third inning? Did you block that out of memory, perhaps as a fluky early-season nightmare?

Colorado rolled into town with a wake-up call, doing New York one better with a 13-run fifth inning to completely beat, bury and spit on the Giants in a demoralizing 17-7 win Thursday night.

The most runs the Giants had allowed at AT&T Park was 10 back in 2004. Better yet, the last time the Giants gave up 13 runs in an inning at home was against the Montreal Expos at the ‘Stick in 1997.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.

The Rockies’ big inning occurred less than week after the Mets’, and now Colorado leads the MLB in runs scored in an inning. But that means history for the Giants, too, as they’ve now become the first team in MLB history to allow 12 or more runs in an inning within a week. Bruce Bochy said it was rough:

“Tough to see the same thing in the same week … The pitching just wasn’t there.”

It’s been a while — nine years, in fact — since Matt Cain (as a starter) was not able to strike out a batter front of the home crowd. Cain did it again, for just the second time in his career, on Thursday night.

That was just the tip of the iceberg for the Giants’ fifth guy. Cain hasn’t pitched beyond the sixth inning since he went for seven in a June 2014 game against the Reds and, Thursday, posted his shortest (4 IP) and most brutal (10 hits, 6 earned runs) start this season.

Cain was just leaving money on the table for the powerful Rockies lineup; Nolan Arenado (12) and Trevor Story (11) both homered, and now sit atop the MLB leaderboard. Cain said he liked the way most of his stuff looked:

“The location wasn’t bad, the balls were just higher than they needed to be and you have a group of guys that can take advantage of that.”

Bochy agreed:

“His stuff is fine, it’s all about execution. He makes mistakes and doesn’t get away with it.”

Especially against these Rockies. Arenado has seemed inevitable, and he got it out of the way quickly, leaping on a 2-0 changeup that Cain said leaked away from the intended outer third area right over the plate. The homer gave the Rockies a first-inning 2-0 lead.

Story’s marked the beginning of the end. He chucked a hanging, two-strike slider to get the fifth-inning massacre rolling. Cain liked his pitch to Story, but don’t expect these guys to just wait for the next big mistake.

The defense needed to be nearly perfect to prop Cain up, but Brandon Crawford fumbled Arenado’s ground ball to put runners on the corners with no outs. Gerardo Parra singled up the middle to score Carlos Gonzalez and that was it for Cain.

The slippery inning fell squarely onto Vin Mazzaro‘s shoulders. He earned a win in Monday’s game in Cincy, but wasn’t ready for this.

Mazzaro gave up seven hits, a walk and hit Arenado (bases loaded) in a nine-run outing, the most runs a Giants pitcher has allowed since Ray Sadecki also gave up nine in 1966. The fifth lasted 37 minutes.

The Giants have an issue with the back of their rotation — it’s time to say it — and a young bullpen that isn’t ready to mop up their mess. With George Kontos out for a few more days and Chris Heston working on his stuff back in Sacramento, there was no long reliever available and ready to keep this game civil.

These two meltdown innings — one in New York, one back at home — are products of a dulled pitching staff. The Giants have posted a 12-6 record when Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija take the mound. They’re 3-9 when Jake Peavy and Cain start.

Tim Lincecum has his showcase tomorrow in Arizona, and the Giants will be there to watch. The crossing of these two events seems like fate, and Giants fans surely would like to see No. 55 back home.

But Lincecum has said that he wants to be a starter again, and the Giants may not be ready to give him that job right now. Another team, however, may be willing to take that risk. Bochy wasn’t ready to comment fully on a possible Lincecum return, but stood by his team:

“They’re trying to gain traction. They’ve been around, they have experience. We’re standing behind them.”

Let’s white-out that fifth inning for just a moment. Pretend those 13 runs never happened.

The Giants’ offense managed to knock out Chris Rusin in the bottom of that long fifth, denying him the win and cutting five runs off the Rockies’ 15-run lead.

They kept it close before the fact, too, answering the Rockies’ early three-run lead with a two-run first, which also broke Rusin’s 14-2/3 inning scoreless streak (which sat at third longest active in the Majors). They mirrored their one-run second with a one-run bottom and, for a moment, the game looked interesting.

The Giants tallied 16 hits. The Rockies, 17.

Nolan Arenado

Arenado has hit 54 career home runs against the Giants — and that puts him fourth on the list behind Adrian Gonzalez (159), Matt Kemp (157) and Troy Tulowitzki (118). Those guys have been around years longer than 25-year-old Arenado, but doesn’t it seem like he should be a little closer to his competitors on the list?

He’ll get there. He’s batting a career .308 against the Giants and is batting .353 at AT&T Park.


Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.