Hustle not enough as Giants continue free-fall

Reigning NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer was perfect until Eduardo Nunez singled with one out in the fourth inning. Nunez gunned it around second as Buster Posey‘s lazy, two-out fly ball hung in the air and sprinted home as it fell between outfielders Jayson Werth and Michael Taylor.

In the seventh, Brandon Crawford slid to make a diving stop off speedy Trea Turner‘s ground ball up the middle and made a pathetic throw somewhere in the direction of first base. The crowd laughed and cheered at the attempt.

It’s not been for a lack of hustle, is the point, but the out-of-sync Giants (22-33) were swept by the Nationals (33-19) after falling 3-1 Wednesday night, said San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy:

“We got to get our offense going. The only way we get this offense going is when we get our guys to where they normally are this time of year.”

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

It didn’t help that Bochy’s stumbling offense would have to kick through a brick wall. Scherzer (W, 6-3, 2.56 ERA) was dominant, striking out 11 desperate Giants in his seventh career complete game effort. He’d have the upper hand all night given the stuff he was showing, said Bochy:

“He’s tough and he had stuff working with that fastball he’s got, slider and changeup. And it’s hard to pick up that changeup.”

With that, Scherzer sealed the Nats first sweep of the Giants at AT&T Park since 2003. Asked if he could find any bright spot amid a 2-4 home stand, Bochy smirked:

“We’ll definitely have to search, because we did get swept. … We were in some of these games, we just couldn’t do anything offensively.”

The Nats clinched their sweep-sealing win four batters into the game.

Turner reached on a Crawford error, his second in two starts this series after notching just one over his previous 52 games. Daniel Murphy singled on a hit-and-run that had Crawford twisting the wrong direction, and Ryan Zimmerman knocked his second home run of the series into the left field bleachers.

Zimmerman’s three-run bomb (15) was his team’s sixth on the year. The Giants offense has zero, while the pitching staff has allowed six. Zimmerman’s homer came off a pretty good pitch, home starter Matt Cain noted — down enough but just enough over the plate for the hottest hitter in the National League to snag:

“Zimmerman’s swinging the bat really well, so it’s unfortunate … and the way he’s swinging he’s never going to miss by much.”

Cain (L, 3-4, 4.37 ERA) provided another gutty performance, keeping his team in the game (in theory) with four consecutive scoreless innings despite allowing a base runner in each. He got the boot with just 94 pitches against him in place of pinch hitter Aaron Hill, who popped up with Brandon Belt in scoring position.

Hunter Strickland pitched the eighth inning, prompting an inebriated fan to yell at Washington manager Dusty Baker to put Bryce Harper in the game. That wouldn’t have been possible — or wise — because Harper was granted a game off his four-game suspension, which he began today and will last until the Nats’ series in Oakland.

Strickland is still waiting on news from his appeal.

The Giants’ bullpen had a good amount of foot traffic. George Kontos pitched two shutout innings and Mark Melancon pitched a perfect ninth, collecting two strikeouts along the way.

It didn’t matter, though, as the Nats’ ‘pen went untouched in Scherzer’s gem.

Up Next

The Giants will have an off day before traveling to Philadelphia to play the Phillies (17-23) for a three-game series. They’ll then go to Milwaukee to face the Brewers (27-25) for four before returning home.

Notes

Hunter Pence went 1-for-2 in his five-inning rehab assignment with the San Jose Giants Wednesday. He’ll play seven innings Thursday. A return date will become clearer following that outing. … Madison Bumgarner played catch again one day after doing so for the first time since his shoulder injury, this time from 75 feet. The team still expects him back in late July or early August.


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.