The safest bet in San Francisco this summer is a Giants loss.
They come in any way imaginable: through error, bad pitching, no hitting, zero power, extra-inning implosions, five-hour blowouts, frustrating one-run drag-outs.
Check a couple of those boxes off in the Giants’ 10-3 loss to the suddenly-hot Pittsburgh Pirates and add one more: a double-ejection that included a heated Bruce Bochy thrown out in the second inning and casual, cool late-game Dave Righetti in the ninth.
Believe it or not, the Giants swept this same Pirates team not one month ago in the Steel City. But the Pirates have won seven of their last 10 and made this three-game opener a farce from the first pitch. Matt Cain‘s 20th start of the season was perhaps his worst, compounded by team-wide frustration with the strike zone, said Bochy:
“I know there was frustration all night. … I don’t think (home plate umpire Chris Conroy) had a good night as far as consistency.”
Cain first was irked with Conroy in the second when a curveball to Andrew McCutchen up in the strike zone was called a ball. He unleashed the frustration when McCutchen took a 3-1 curveball deep to left for a three-run jack, giving the Pirates a 6-0 lead. Cain yelled something at Conroy and Bochy sought answers with some expletives of his own, prompting the quick ejection. Cain appreciated the support:
“He’s got to be able to do that. I was walking away from the situation but he’s got to keep players in the game. That’s what good managers do.”
In keeping with their season-long custom, the game, at that point, was lost for the Giants. Bochy now had the luxury of watching his team melt into a 63rd loss from the comfort his office.
Cain’s command was off and the Pirates had their way with him to the tune of six hits in his 4 long innings of work — he did tune it up a bit in the latter two. But all that work was compounded by a costly Eduardo Nunez error at third that set the table for McCutchen’s bomb. That kind of luck wouldn’t do against Pittsburgh ace Gerrit Cole, said Bochy:
“If you look at the game, we were getting back into it, had the bases loaded, had some opportunities. … I thought we had some good at bats.
Brandon Crawford — who went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against his brother-in-law Cole last time they faced off — went 2-for-4 and put the Giants’ first run on the board, making worthy a Brandon Belt double.
Buster Posey, who was hitting an uncharacteristic .091 against Cole, plated a second with a single just evading McCutchen’s glove in center. Belt, confused about whether it was an out call or not, ended the inning on an odd attempt to take third after Denard Span scored. Another rally ended on a base running mishap — another way the Giants have relinquished opportunity this week, said Bochy:
“These are the little things that come back to haunt us. … Probably what’s been happening is we don’t get a good read. … just stay on second base, we got to stop compounding the damage.”
Posey’s second RBI put the Giants within three in the seventh, but a Pirates rally against Josh Osich signaled an unprecedented “wave” that soared through the AT&T Park stands a few times just as Jordy Mercer popped the game’s second three-run homer. It also happened at the exact moment Cody Bellinger hit a three-run homer to give the Dodgers a 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins for their 69th win, sinking the whole of San Francisco even deeper into the depths of their newfound emotional cellar.
Just a reminder that the Giants have hit one three-run homer all year. This was the second time this year that the Giants have given up two in a single game.
If you weren’t already convinced of the high frustration-level: Righetti was also ejected on a called ball four from Kyle Crick in the ninth inning, said Bochy:
“Crick has been worked a lot so he probably wanted to get him off the mound, so I’m sure that frustrated him a bit.”
Righetti walked with Conroy, looked to be having a discussion before the home plate umpire gave him the boot. It was the first time Righetti was tossed since 2007.
Matt Cain is now winless in his last 11 starts.
Johnny Cueto threw the ball before the game and is scheduled to throw a light bullpen session Tuesday. … Mark Melancon is expected to throw to hitters in Los Angeles this weekend. … Top pitching prospect Tyler Beede was scratched from his start in Sacramento, putting a question mark on the timetable for a potential call-up for the 24-year-old. He is yet another prospect, joining Austin Slater, Ryder Jones and Christian Arroyo dragged down by injury, said Bruce Bochy:
“Would have been nice to keep these guys healthy, not just for here but for the guys in Sacramento.”