The Giants carved yet another caveat into the road out of this slump: the series opener.
Their first series win since the All-Star break was sparked by a 14-inning Game 1 win over Miami just a few days ago–other than that, they’ve lost eight of their last nine openers.
That eighth loss came Friday night when the flatlining Giants offense flopped to a 5-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
Every team goes through it’s slump; that’s baseball, every manager and player will attest. The Giants, though, seem to be slumping through molasses.
They returned to San Francisco hitting just .189 with runners in scoring position. Friday night they went 1-for-4 thanks to Brandon Belt’s ninth-inning RBI single.
The Giants scored their first run on a risky play that sent Joe Panik hustling home from first on Denard Span’s third inning double.
The Giants tend to feed off of each other’s peaks and valleys, slumps and success. Right now, the team’s big hitters are off kilter and inconsistent, said Buster Posey:
“We’ve got the ability to go on a good streak…We’ll have games where we score seven, eight runs. We’re just not doing it consistently enough.”
Brandon Crawford essentially carried the team to their series win over Miami, tallying the winning RBI in his seven-hit game and the solo-shot in a 1-0 game that seal the series.
But one guy can’t do it all. Bruce Bochy said he can sense some guys are ready to break out. Hunter Pence and Joe Panik have been particularly rusty since they’ve returned from injury.
Pence doubled and Panik singled and scored, making up for two of the Giants five total hits Friday. Bochy said this team has proven they’re a good-hitting club:
“I think it really is going to take all of them to start clicking here and getting the line moving, as we say.”
The Giants scored 34 runs on their nine-game road trip, winning three of four by just one run. So, out of context, those two runs they mustered felt like an avalanche.
It wouldn’t be enough against the powerful Orioles.
Matt Cain gave up 11 hits, tying a career high set back in 2012, and five runs through four innings.
He was showing some of the stuff that helped him to three consecutive wins, but today he left a few too many fastballs over the plate.
That wouldn’t fly against a Baltimore team that leads the MLB in homers (174).
Baseball’s home run leader Mark Trumbo blasted his 33rd of the season 441 feet to left with a runner on to put the O’s up 4-0. Chris Davis booted Cain out of the game three pitches into the fifth inning after blasting a fastball deep to left to make it 5-1.
Cain said those pitches, noting the one to Trumbo, were just inches away from where he wanted them. The Orioles made him pay:
“That’s a group that’s coming out aggressive and swinging the bat well.”
Battle of the bullpens
O’s hurler Dylan Bundy stifled the Giants, and Baltimore’s bullpen left even less room to breathe.
Zach Britton, who has an MLB-best .55 ERA, shut down the little rally the Giants managed against the other powerhouse Brad Brach. Britton pitched a perfect ninth inning, his 40th consecutive scoreless relief appearance.
Something rarely said after most first-half losses: the Giants bullpen matched up. George Kontos and Jake Peavy pitched five innings of no-hit ball. The bullpen is rising to the occasion, the silver lining to the offensive inconsistencies.