ATLANTA — The Giants were excited to have Anthony DeSclafani back on the mound Tuesday for the first time since the third week of April. By the end of their back-and-forth 12-10 win over the Braves, though, they had a new injury to worry about — and that excitement had to be somewhat subdued.
The win evened this four-game series and could be critical in the wild-card race, but DeSclafani’s return to the rotation was hardly what the Giants were hoping for: He reached his pitch limit by the end of the third inning after allowing six hits, a walk and two home runs — a three-run jack by Matt Olson and a two-run shot from Marcell Ozuna — that accounted for all five of his earned runs.
The bright spots included a seven-pitch first inning and a strikeout of Ronald Acuña Jr. in his final frame, one of three punchouts. DeSclafani’s velocity also ticked up from his first three starts when he was battling inflammation in his right ankle, which ultimately caused him to miss the past two months.
But more concerning than DeSclafani’s stumble in his first start since April 21 was the loss of shortstop Brandon Crawford, who has never missed more than 24 games in a season. He left the game after colliding at home plate with catcher Travis d’Arnaud while scoring on a sacrifice fly from Luis González — initially ruled out but overturned upon replay review — however, his initial diagnosis was a left knee contusion, appearing to avert the worse-case scenario.
Acuña would show why he is one of the most feared hitters in the game in the fourth, with a no-doubt home run off Zack Littell that gave Atlanta a 7-6 lead — one of five times the lead changed hands.
If opposites attract, these past two games can start writing their vows.
After staff aces Logan Webb and Max Fried went toe-to-toe in Monday night’s 2-1 loss, neither starter Tuesday night lasted past the fourth inning. The Giants went 4-for-7 with runners in scoring position, after coming up with only one hit in eight tries the previous night.
Catcher Austin Wynns homered, drove in a team-high four runs and came a triple away from the cycle, while Joc Pederson delivered a late-inning home run that should have given the home fans flashbacks to lead the 13-run outburst.
DeSclafani was forced out by performance but also a pitch count coming off a long absence.
His five runs allowed were the most by a Giants starter since Alex Cobb on May 23, and he was only the fourth Giants starter all season to allow multiple home runs in a game. Cobb did it most recently, also in his return to the rotation from the IL, but those were solo shots.
The eight runs scored by Atlanta were the most allowed by the Giants since the Mets mounted 12 on May 24. Since then, the Giants had posted the second-lowest ERA in the majors (2.82), entering Tuesday. Atlanta (3.00) was not far behind, but the Giants’ nine runs were their most since a 15-6 win at Miami on June 3.
The Giants’ six runs off 23-year-old Spencer Strider were the most the mustachioed rookie has allowed since arriving in the big leagues. He took a 2.45 ERA into this start, but it rose by nearly a full point, to 3.40, and left the game with two outs in the fourth.
One thing remained the same: the two teams, both jockeying for wild card position, didn’t give an inch. They combined for 22 runs — second only to that 13-12 win over the Mets back in May — but the biggest lead by either club came after the Giants’ four-run second inning that opened the scoring.
Wynns’ three-run home run — the Giants’ first blast with men on base since June 7 — gave them a 4-0 lead in the second, and it took another RBI double from the backup catcher to tie the game at 5 in the fourth. Wynns’ four RBIs matched a career high, and he came a triple shy of the cycle. He added a single in the sixth, then scored on a two-RBI double from Mike Yastrzemski that gave the Giants an 8-7 lead.
When Thairo Estrada botched what would have been an inning-ending force out — dropping a soft toss from third baseman Evan Longoria — in the seventh, Pederson’s home run proved crucial. The error allowed Acuña to score and pull Atlanta within 9-8, after Pederson’s solo homer to center in the top half of the inning.
Matt Olson’s two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth would have been enough for the Braves’ second straight walk-off against closer Camilo Doval, if not for the Giants’ three-run rally in the top half of the inning, capped by Wilmer Flores’ two-run single, which ended the inning only after he was thrown out trying for second.
Contributed by local news sources