PHOENIX — The Giants stood six outs away from snapping out of this terrible funk. But after an erratic performance by Dominic Leone and too many missed scoring opportunities, the skid extended to six games, matching a season-high.
Leone surrendered the tying run in a 6-2 loss on one of two wild pitches in the eighth inning before the D-backs broke the game open with a three-run home run off Camilo Doval, scoring all four runners Leone allowed on base in a five-run inning.
“I know we’re not pointing fingers,” Leone said. “But if there’s anyone to point fingers at tonight, it’s definitely me.”
With their 12th loss in the past 15 games, the Giants sit only one game over .500, at 40-39. With their second loss in two games to Arizona, they equaled their total number of defeats to the D-backs last season, when they went 17-2.
They took a 2-1 lead into the eighth inning.
“I think it’s fair to say we played fine baseball for a part of that game. I just don’t think that’s our standard,” said manager Gabe Kapler. “We need to be better at many different things. That is unequivocally true. We’re just not playing good enough baseball. We didn’t play good enough baseball in the eighth inning to win the game, so ultimately we did not deserve to win the game.”
Leone’s first wild pitch to snuck between the legs of Austin Wynns, allowing Josh Rojas to score from third to tie the game at 2. His second was a fastball he threw wide of the strike zone and Wynns’ glove that put the go-ahead run on third base, setting up Buddy Kennedy’s sac fly once Doval took over. Daulton Varsho delivered a three-run shot that made it 6-2.
Rojas reached to lead off the inning by squaring up to bunt with two strikes and placing one perfectly toward third base, with Evan Longoria shifted toward shortstop. Once he reached base, Rojas was a menace before eventually scoring the tying run.
“Rojas made a crazy good play,” Kapler said. “A play that rarely is made. He bunted with two strikes against a hard-throwing reliever, which is a really difficult thing to do. He then became a pest on the bases and was taking his leads with a high level of confidence and some risk and showed a degree of fearlessness that caused us to respond to it by throwing over, making a visit, stepping off. Sometimes that can be distracting.”
Wynns also took “full responsibility” for the two balls that scooted past him, saying “I’m a catcher; catch the ball.” The decisive and demoralizing plays came only an inning after Wynns had broken a 1-1 tie on a game-of-inches play.
With Yermín Mercedes on second base in the seventh, Wynns lofted a fly ball down the line in left. Cooper Hummel, in pursuit, tried to make a sliding grab but the ball bounced off his glove with a sliver of his body in fair territory. The ball would have fallen foul had Hummel not touched it, but instead the play ended with Mercedes jogging home and Wynns standing on first base, after a successful challenge by manager Gabe Kapler.
It would have proven to be the decisive run, if the Giants’ bullpen had held on.
Allowing one run over five innings, Giants starter Alex Wood lowered his ERA back below 5, to 4.83. He needed only 71 pitches to make it through five, but with his hamstring cramping up and the Diamondbacks’ lineup turning over for a third time, Kapler turned to the Giants’ bullpen.
Wood breezed through his first four frames, needing only 17 pitches to make it through two, then recording all four of his strikeouts in a span of six batters between the third and the fifth. But after his final punchout — putting a 94-mph sinker past the letters of Buddy Kennedy — for the first out in the fifth, Carson Kelly smacked a ground-rule double past the outstretched glove of Joc Pederson and over the right-field wall. Two batters later, Geraldo Perdomo singled him home for all the damage the D-backs would do against Wood.
“It doesn’t get any more frustrating than what’s transpired over the last 15 games,” Wood said. “That’s not who we are. But you come to places in the season, there’s usually a couple times where you have a choice to make. You can either pack it in and say this is who we are and this is who we’re going to be the rest of the way, or you come out and show some fight and turn this thing around. I think tonight was a culmination of everything coming to a head.”
Once again, the Giants left runs on the board. They left seven runners on base and went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
“You win that game 2-1, you don’t think about it,” Kapler said. “But when you give up a five-spot, that’s definitely how it feels. Could you be up two or three and have that same thing unravel? Sure, but nobody cares, so it makes sense to call back to earlier moments in the game when we had an opportunity to have a big inning.”
Joc Pederson made good on a bases-loaded opportunity in the fourth with a sac fly that brought home Austin Slater to give San Francisco a 1-0 lead. But that inning started with three hard-hit singles by Slater, Wilmer Flores and Darin Ruf to load the bases with no outs, and it ended with three men standing on base and only one notch in the scoring column.
Pederson also made the loudest out of the night, flying out to center field, 417 feet away, in his first at-bat. For those keeping track at home, that’s 752 feet worth of outs — and one RBI.
Brandon Crawford, in his first game since June 24, doubled to lead off the fifth, but the Giants couldn’t advance him past third. Looking for insurance in the eighth, they also stranded runners on second and third.
Five games was already more in a row than they lost all last season on their way to 107 wins, but they have lost six straight twice already this season, with two games to go until the halfway point. They will try to avoid being swept Wednesday, before heading to San Diego for four with the second-place Padres, 5.0 games ahead of the Giants.
“If this is who we’re going to be, we’re going to find out in the next four or five days,” Wood said. “If this is who we’re OK with being, or if we’re not. We’ll find out the rest of this road trip.”
Contributed by local news sources