SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants have been the definition of average since they owned a 14-7 record and sat in first place in the National League West at the end of April.
From the beginning of May to the end of their 10-game road trip over the weekend, the Giants went 15-17. They’ve had two five-game losing streaks and one six-game win streak. Some days it looks like they can slug it out with any team in baseball. On others, the offense barely makes a peep.
Perhaps this season-long nine-game homestand represents an opportunity for the Giants to regain some of that early-season swagger and climb a bit closer to first place.
That march will have to start another day.
Left-handed reliever Jose Alvarez gave up a three-run home run to Charlie Blackmon in the top of the sixth inning and the Giants never recovered in a 5-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday at Oracle Park.
Alvarez replaced righty Zack Littell, who allowed singles to Jose Iglesias and Randal Grichuk to start the sixth. Blackmon, coming in as a pinch-hitter, then blasted an 82 mph changeup off Alvarez 423 feet into McCovey Cove for his 200th career home run.
“(Blackmon) was rewarded for a really good swing on a pitch that just missed a little bit from Alvarez,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said.
The Giants didn’t manage any runs after a three-run first inning as they lost for the fourth time in six games to fall to 29-25 overall.
San Francisco’s homestand continues with games against Colorado on Wednesday and Thursday, followed by a three-game set with the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers from Friday to Sunday. The homestand concludes with a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals next week.
The Giants remained 5 1/2 games back of the Dodgers, who lost 4-0 to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
Shortstop Brandon Crawford exited Tuesday’s game in the bottom of the fifth inning with tightness in his right quadriceps muscle, although it appears the injury isn’t serious.
Crawford said he felt discomfort as he ran to first base in the first inning. He was due to hit in the bottom of the fifth with runners on second and third base and two outs, but his leg wasn’t improving on a cool, windy night at China Basin.
Crawford, who is also dealing with a sinus infection right now, said he mentioned the discomfort to the trainers “and we collectively decided to get me out of there just with how I’ve been feeling lately and the quad being pretty tight.”
Crawford, who will be reevaluated Wednesday, swung a hot bat in the Giants’ four-game series with the Miami Marlins, going 3-for-8 with a double, a triple and a home. He had five RBI in the series, which included his fifth career grand slam.
Crawford’s .968 fielding percentage ranked 12th among all MLB shortstops before Tuesday’s game.
Thairo Estrada, who replaced Crawford in the lineup, then lined out to Rockies shortstop Jose Iglesias to end the threat as the Giants failed to expand on its 3-2 lead. Estrada remained in the game and starting in the top of the sixth inning, played second base as Donovan Walton moved to shortstop.
The Giants managed just two hits after the first inning and struck out 11 times for the game.
“One of the things that we can work on as an offense right now is taking the same approach the second or third time through as we do the first time,” Kapler said. “We tend to, even against some of the best pitchers around the league, really drive their pitch count up in the first and second inning, and sometimes we have a tendency to let them off the hook.”
Wilmer Flores homered in the first inning. After Connor Joe’s solo home run in the top of the first, Flores took a Germán Márquez sinker over the left-field wall for a 2-1 Giants lead. Luis González later singled to score Joc Pederson from second base for a two-run San Francisco advantage.
Giants starter Carlos Rodón had his second-shortest outing of the season, although he didn’t necessarily have an off night.
Rodón allowed two earned runs and struck out five, but struggled to finish hitters and threw 98 pitches in four innings.
“Carlos is not consistently enough putting away hitters, but it’s really nothing that Carlos is doing,” Kapler said. “Oftentimes it’s the opposing hitters that are just finding a way to get a bat on the ball and extend the at-bat. He’s ultimately recording plenty of outs. That’s not the issue. It’s just he’s not able to put guys away right now.”
Rodón had a 3-0 record and a 1.17 ERA with 38 strikeouts in April, but has mostly struggled since. In May, he went 1-4 with a 5.67 ERA with 26 strikeouts in May, as opponents had a .292 batting average with three home runs.
“I had a nice little stretch at the beginning of the year. Confidence was high,” Rodón said. “Baseball can be pretty humbling, as we know. Just got to ride through the storm and get ready for the next one.”
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