The Giants played nine innings in Wednesday’s 8-4 loss, but they probably only needed to play two.
Chris Statton (L, 10-10, 4.88 ERA) entered Wednesday coming off a two-hit shutout. He tallied a clean, 14-pitch first inning before finding a bat in his hands in the Giants half of the second. Singles by Nick Hundley and Brandon Crawford and a walk by Chris Shaw loaded the bases with two outs for Stratton, who owned a career batting average of .125.
Stratton, of course, roped a double into the right-center field gap off Padres starter Robbie Erlin (W, 4-7, 4.33 ERA) to clear the bases. It was the first extra-base hit of Stratton’s career, and skyrocketed his career RBI total from two to five.
In the ensuing half inning, Stratton faced four batters and allowed two runs before he recorded an out, a sacrifice fly that tied the game. A sacrifice bunt from Erlin handed Stratton the second out. The Giants right-hander got within a strike of ending the inning before third baseman Wil Myers muscled a 3-2 pitch 419 feet into the Padres bullpen for a two-run homer, giving the Padres a 5-3 lead. Manager Bruce Bochy said Stratton just got out of sync.
“(He) couldn’t get the ball where he wanted. It started with a walk and the he was just missing his spots by a pretty good margin, that’s unlike him. Especially with the way he’s been throwing the ball. … The way he’s been throwing the ball, you like that lead early in the game but he just couldn’t get on track that second inning.”
Stratton said he never felt as good as he did in his last start despite the clean first frame:
“Baseball’s a game of some highs and some lows. I just think that today was a little out of whack altogether. I know I had a 1-2-3 first inning but I still didn’t feel on like I was the previous game. … When you get three runs early there, you got to find a way to get it done and that’s something I got to get better at.”
Stratton lasted only three innings and Erlin only five, but the only runs they allowed came in the span of about 30 minutes. The Padres and Giants bullpens matched zeros until the eighth inning, when first baseman Aramis Garcia drove his third career homer over the right field fence to pull the Giants within a run. Bochy said of Garcia:
“I think he did a nice job, didn’t he? To go oppo here, that’s impressive off a tough pitcher. He did a nice job for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time there at first base. But he had some pretty good at-bats too. He looks comfortable up here.”
But once again, the Padres answered back louder. In the bottom half of the eighth, Eric Hosmer singled and Franmil Reyes walked ahead of Freddy Galvis. With one out, Galvis got a 99 mph fastball from Giants reliever Ray Black and turned it into a 388-foot, three-run home run, putting the Giants away for good.
Stratton’s final start of the season is likely to come against the Padres in San Francisco next week and he said he plans to use Wednesday’s game as a motivator:
“You always look back on today’s game and figure out what you did wrong and try to improve on it. I just don’t think my fastball command was very good today and two-strike pitches weren’t very good. … Sometimes it’s going to be there and sometimes it’s not so you got to battle with what you got.”
The Giants conclude their last road trip of 2018 with three games against the St. Louis Cardinals, beginning with Madison Bumgarner (6-6, 3.14 ERA) and John Gant (7-6, 3.53 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. PDT.
Brandon Crawford notched three hits for the first time since June 26. After mentioning Monday that his knee has bothered him for much of the last two months, it must be feeling better now. … The home run Black allowed is his fourth in 21 innings of work. … Brandon Belt‘s season is likely over as he heads back to San Francisco to have an MRI on his knee. Bochy said surgery is a possibility. … Belt’s knee issue means that Garcia and Austin Slater will share first base duties for the Giants’ nine remaining games.