The Giants have struggled to score runs for much of the 2018 season, but July has been especially dry. With 76 runs, they’re tied with San Diego for the second-fewest runs scored of any team in the majors this month, above only Seattle (59).
And so, with the Giants (52-53) floundering offensively, another quality start from Madison Bumgarner (L, 3-4, 3.21 ERA) went unrewarded as the Brewers (60-46) and Chase Anderson (W, 6-7, 3.69 ERA) took Saturday night’s victory at AT&T Park, 3-1.
Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford swatted back-to-back doubles to lead off the second and get the Giants on the board, but in a familiar theme, even with no outs and Crawford in scoring position, the Giants were unable to keep the rally going.
Manager Bruce Bochy expressed frustration at the team’s failure to capitalize:
“You know we left a runner on third with one out, we were missing a big hit. We’re just having a hard time getting this line moving and it’s not gonna change until we do.”
The Giants offensive struggles have become more acute in July, but particularly in the last couple weeks. The team has been leading or tied going into the seventh inning or later in seven of their last eight losses. Said Bochy:
“I think [this slump] has gone on a little long, to be honest. I think you look at the lineup—it’s a lineup that should be putting some more runs on the board. … It’s a case where guys — I know they’re battling, but we gotta compete a little harder and find a way to get things going and get this line moving.”
Friday’s back-to-back two-baggers earned the only run either team would scratch across for another four innings, because even as the Giants offense failed to move the needle against Anderson, Bumgarner tossed a gem, muffling Milwaukee bats.
When the Brewers did score on Bumgarner he never got shelled. In the sixth and seventh innings, Milwaukee scored one run on one hit, neither of which was a homer.
Keon Broxton led off the sixth by slapping a ground ball to Evan Longoria at third that, with Broxton’s speed, was going to be a tough play. Longoria bobbled the ball and made a wild throw that bounced off Broxton as the Brewer made his way to first. It was at first ruled a base hit but the official scorer amended the ruling after the game, handing Longoria his 12th error on the season, matching the Gold Glover’s total for all of 2017.
The impact of Longoria’s throw on Broxton had a deadening effect on the ball, so he wasn’t able to take second on the play, but it wouldn’t matter. The dangerous Christian Yelich took a four pitch walk from Bumgarner to follow, and with a runner in scoring position and three outs to play with, the Brewers managed to do what the Giants hadn’t done in the second — two groundouts later, they brought Broxton home and tied it up, 1-1.
Of his outing, Bumgarner said:
“I felt good, my command was good, my stuff was good they just got some hits in some big spot for ’em, so tough game, tough loss for us.”
Milwaukee took the lead in the seventh in similar fashion. Hérnan Pérez led off with a single and he took second on a sac bunt. With Orlando Arcia at the plate Pérez stole third and scored on an Arcia ground out to third. Longoria may have had a play at the plate, but a double clutch forced him to get the out where he could, at first.
“Obviously I don’t want [Pérez] to steal third, he just picked the right time to go and it worked out. I’m just trying to keep runs off the board I don’t know if [Longoria] would have had him even if he didn’t bobble it or re-grip it or whatever he did, cause it took him right into the line of [the runner], he’d have to make a perfect throw right over the runners head.”
After Bumgarner allowed a third unanswered run on a Yelich double and a Ryan Braun single in the eighth, the ace’s night was over at 108 pitches. He said:
“It’s funny, if we have a game [where] I have the same line as I did tonight and we win the game, I go sleep like a baby. [But] if we lose, you’re staring at the ceiling until five in the morning.
“We’re here to win game any way we can. I don’t care what the final score is, [or] if I get the win or if somebody else does—our only purpose here is to win so when you don’t it’s tough no matter how good you threw or bad you threw.”
San Francisco showed some fight in the home-half of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out singles from Steven Duggar and Alen Hanson off of Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress (H, 16, 1.45 ERA). But after an Andrew McCutchen walk stacked the bases for Posey, the All-Star catcher couldn’t come through in the clutch, grounding out to third to end the threat.
Corey Knebel (S, 14, 3.94 ERA) came in to pitch the ninth and put the Giants to bed without a fight, sealing another wasted quality start from the Giants big lefty as the team slipped back below .500 for the first time since June 22.
Bochy acknowledged that the Giants are running out of time if they want to shake the ennui in time for it to mean something in October:
“You try different things [to snap out of it], I mean there’s a different lineup today than last night, and we met at the break, we had a little meeting today… but you know it’s gonna be up to these veterans. They’re professionals and they’re good hitters and you’d like to think that its gonna come around. But now you’re at a point where it’s gotta happen now. You can’t keep saying, ‘Well there’s a lot of baseball.’ The margin of error is getting smaller and smaller. We’re in a ‘Hey, win now’ position. So that’s up to us to bow our necks and find a way to get this done.”
Johnny Cueto (3-1, 2.76 ERA) will take on Brewers righty Jhoulys Chacin (9-3, 3.58 ERA) in Saturday’s 6:05 p.m. game. The Giants will hold an induction ceremony for former San Francisco pitchers Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Brian Wilson to the Giants Wall of Fame before Saturday’s game. The trio will be honored with bronze plaques detailing their achievements to be placed beside those of 49 other Giants greats on the brick wall of AT&T Park that lines King Street. The dedication is scheduled for 2 p.m. on King Street next to the AT&T Park box office, and attendance is free of charge.
Joe Panik (left groin) played his second rehab game with Triple-A Sacramento Friday. In two games, he is 2-for-6 with one walk.