Jake Peavy has given up 15 home runs this season. The Cincinnati Reds are responsible for seven of them.
Three of those — all two-run bombs — powered the Reds to a 7-5 win over the Giants on what was supposed to be a warm second-half homecoming.
What is it about the Reds, though, that has Peavy (L, 5-9, 5.42 ERA) so twisted?
He rolled through the lineup through three quick innings of near perfect ball–save for Brandon Crawford‘s fifth error in seven games–but was drawing contact that hinted at trouble.
Once Peavy faced the Reds lineup a second time through, mistakes caught up to him. A few Reds started to reach base, forcing Peavy to pitch out of the stretch.
Off delivery out of the stretch, Peavy reasoned, has tainted his home-run worthy mistakes during this rough second-half. Only one home run, to Boston’s Brock Holt, has not happened out of the stretch:
“You just can be too fast, really just being too quick, and not letting your arm catch up to finish those pitches. There’s no doubt about it that’s what got me in Boston, just getting out of the stretch and not finishing that cutter.”
That mistake cutter gave way to the game-winning, two-run homer: Jay Bruce knocked one deep to center-right to topple a valiant Giants comeback, putting the Reds up 6-5 in the sixth and knocking Peavy out of the game just 85 pitches deep.[envira-gallery id=”194630″]
Bruce also hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the fourth–the Reds first hit of the night–and blazed the way for Eugenio Suarez‘s two-run bomb a walk and an out later. Joey Votto‘s leadoff double in the sixth was the only other hit Peavy would allow. Bruce Bochy chalked this one up to costly mistakes:
“He made a couple mistakes, but, it’s hard to believe he gave up six runs. … That’s a tough one cuz these guys fought hard to come back and take the lead.”
Faced with a 4-1 deficit, the East-Coast-traveling Giants would have been dead in the water — they finished a 1-7 road trip in the wet 100-degree heat of New York City — but the marine layer and Bay breeze seemed to give the offense a boost. Brandon Belt looked at ease upon his return home:
“Being gone for two weeks is never easy.”
Belt, who was hitting .061 during that road trip, went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer that put the Giants within one in the fourth. Belt’s patience at the plate has helped build his All-Star season. He had to refocus:
“Looking back over the past few days I was too anxious swinging before I saw what the ball was. What the pitch was and where it was going to be. When it’s a game of a couple tenths of a second, it’s easy to get off.”
Belt’s bump from the three-spot might have put him at ease a bit, said Bochy, though Belt sort of tossed that notion aside. Bochy indicated after his team’s dreadful road trip that lineup tweaks were in order.
It might have helped, too, to face a righty a bit vulnerable to the lefty homer; Anthony DeSclafani‘s (W, 3.09 ERA) given up five (now seven) to lefties and a whopping zero to righties. Lefties are hitting over-.300 off him and righties, just around .190.
They had a chance to add a losing blemish to DeSclafani’s pristine 5-0 2016 record. An exclamation point, it seemed, that would cap the downtrodden Giants’ triumphant return home.
One leaky cutter changes everything.
It should also be noted, though, that the Giants couldn’t find another rally in them despite the fact they were facing a bullpen with the worst team ERA (5.39) and third-most blown saves (17) in the MLB.
And so, the Giants move to a 1-8 record to start this second half.