League-worst outfield hits wall in Giant loss to A’s

One of the more consistent elements to a patent 2017 Giants Loss is the lack of speed and strength from the outfield.

Hunter Pence, Denard Span and Whoever Is In Left Field have put together minus-44 defensive run saved season, good for worst in the MLB by 20 runs, according to FanGraphs.

The Athletics also have one of the worst outfields in baseball (minus-20 DRS, fourth worst in baseball). Bad enough that the Giants have used this Bay Bridge Series as an opportunity to be aggressive on the base paths on balls hit beyond the infield, a rarity. But how much better is the fourth-worst outfield than the absolute worst?

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

That question can be answered in two plays that largely dictated Oakland’s 6-1 win over the Giants Wednesday night.

Chad Pinder stars in the first. Pence got the Giants’ first in the fifth inning against Pitcher-They’ve-Never-Seen Daniel Gossett (W, 3-6, 5.17 ERA) and Gorkys Hernandez‘s sac fly gave the Giants a run. Hoping to build off the fumes, manager Bruce Bochy inserted pinch-hitter Miguel Gomez for Matt Moore (L, 3-11, 5.80 ERA). He launched a line drive to the left field gap.

Pinder looked just about ready to nab it on a bounce when he simply stuck his glove in the air for the long out. The Giants would get one run, and that one a sac fly run only.

Span stars in the second. With a pair of runners on, Matt Chapman launched a rocket off Moore that looked cleared for a center field garden landing, at first. The ball held up, though. Bochy said the dugout didn’t know where the ball was going, but knew it wasn’t headed out:

“Ball to center kept carrying and went farther than anyone thought. … I didn’t think it was going that far.”

It went far enough. Span collided with wall as the ball fell between the two.

It would have been a spectacular play had Span made the catch, but it only highlighted the un-spectacularity of this team’s outfield. The non-play resulted in an RBI double and extended a two-run second inning. Span couldn’t get to a Jed Lowrie double in the seventh either, in another two-run inning that gave the A’s their eventual five-run lead.

Moore took the mound coming off a solid start against Los Angeles Dodgers muddied by a leadoff-walk-turned-comeback-rally. Moore lost his release point in the second inning after a laborious first and got shanked by a Ryon Healy two-run homer (20) in the next inning, leaving him at 63 pitches through the two, he said bluntly:

“There were three good innings and two crappy ones.”

He departed with those four runs against him, three walks — two of which scored — and four strikeouts, bumping his ERA up to 5.80, which is still the worst among qualified starters in baseball. It’s been a mea culpa kind of season for Moore, who articulated that despite the topsy-turvy starts, he feels like he’s only improved this second half, mentally and in practice. One fastball to Healy more toward the hands and this may not have been a laugher.

Some better play from the outfielders and the season may not be.

Notes

Following the game, Conor Gillaspie, went 0-for-3 in the starting assignment, was designated for assignment. His roster spot will be taken by Ryder Jones. who slashed .048/.130/.048 in seven games earlier this season. … Jae-gyun Hwang was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento, making room for Jarrett Parker, who will be activated from the 60-day disabled list Thursday. … Pablo Sandoval was spotted at a nearby Safeway Wednesday, but it must have been a stopover on the Sacramento River Cats’ off-day. Bruce Bochy said he’ll still be traveling to Omaha with the triple-A team Thursday, but hinted that a call-up would be coming soon. Sandoval hasn’t played ball in a while, so the more at bats the better. … Santiago Casilla, who spent the 2010 to 2016 seasons with the Giants, made his return to AT&T Park tossing a scoreless ninth.


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.