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July 10, 2013
Affeldt: 'Waves are getting pretty high' as Giants' skid goes on

SAN FRANCISCO -- If Monday night's 16-inning Giants loss was like peeling a Band-Aid off very slowly, Tuesday night felt more like yanking it away. One minute the Giants trailed by one in the eighth inning of a back-and-forth game, with Buster Posey due up in the bottom of the inning. One pitch later, they trailed by five due to a Marlon Byrd grand slam and were headed for their 13th loss in 15 games.

The offensively starved Giants scored six runs in a game for the first time since June 14. And still they could not secure a win, even at home, even behind Barry Zito, who began the game with a 1.98 ERA in 10 starts this season at AT&T Park.

The Giants left 11 men on base a night after leaving 18. Several productive outs with runners on kept them in the game. But the bullpen, which allowed one unearned run in nine innings on Monday night, gave up five runs in three innings Tuesday

All five came in the eighth. After Jose Mijares allowed a one-out single, Jeremy Affeldt came on and allowed a single, two walks and a sacrifice fly. With the bases loaded and one out in a 6-5 game, manager Bruce Bochy called in rookie right-hander Jake Dunning, whose first pitch Byrd crushed for a grand slam and five-run Mets lead.

"It just seems like hard work's spitting in our face right now," Affeldt said. "But I don't know if we know what else to do but work hard.

"I don't think this team isn't working hard. It just seems like every possible situation that could go wrong is going wrong."

Only three teams in the National League have fewer wins than the Giants, who fell to a season-high nine games under .500 -- the Marlins, the Brewers and the Mets. The Cubs have the same number of wins, 40, but one fewer loss. Bochy was asked after the game if it feels like the Giants simply can't do anything to win a game right now.

"No, I'll never feel like that," Bochy said. "We battled back (tonight), we did a great job of moving guys, manufacturing runs. They did a lot of good things. The pitching wasn't there, but the bats were better tonight."

It's going like this for the Giants right now, though: They trailed 5-4 in the sixth when Gregor Blanco came up with runners on first and third and smoked a line drive back up the middle. It could have tied the game. Instead, Mets starter Dillon Gee speared it and easily doubled Tony Abreu off first base to end the inning.

In the ninth, Brandon Crawford hit a ball up the middle that looked like an RBI single. Instead, it hit second base umpire CB Bucknor on the leg and Nick Noonan had to return to second base. The Giants were one batter away from getting Posey to the plate as the potential tying run, but Guillermo Quiroz hit a sharp line drive right at second baseman Daniel Murphy to end the game.

It all prompted Bochy to say: "The boys could use a break, too." Still, some problems on Tuesday were of the Giants' own doing. Walks hurt in particular -- they issued eight, and five of those runners came around to score. The big hit stayed elusive -- they went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Meanwhile, the Giants fell to a season-high nine games under .500, and the Mets would catch them in the win column if they secure a sweep Wednesday.

"I think you try to weather the storm," Affeldt said, "But I think the waves are getting pretty high. And I think we've just got to hope they start calming down here and we can kind of get through it."

* Affeldt took his outing particularly hard after he allowed the go-ahead run to score in the eighth and then left the bases loaded for Dunning. It hasn't been a great past month for Affeldt, who has allowed nine runs in nine innings over his past 13 appearances and has almost as many walks (15) on the season as strikeouts (18).

"We're giving up more runs than we're getting and I'm a huge part of it," Affeldt said. "It just all-around stinks to be honest with you. I really stink."

Bochy was less harsh when asked about Affeldt, but allowed that the left-hander might be "fighting it a little bit.

"He's such a critical part of the bullpen and he's taken it pretty hard when things haven't worked out well," Bochy said. "He knows how much we need him and he is I think a guy that really builds on his confidence.

"Right now the stuff is fine, his command isn't quite as sharp, but it's just I think a case where he needs two, maybe three good outings and he'll get on a roll. Sometimes guys put a little too much pressure on themselves and I think he might be putting too much pressure on himself right now."

* The Giants on Tuesday called up Kensuke Tanaka and put him in the lineup in left field hoping for a spark. They got one in the second inning when Tanaka, an infielder by trade, leapt at the wall in the second inning to rob Andrew Brown of extra bases.

Tanaka ran off the field beaming, and later admitted he was surprised he made the catch. Pablo Sandoval bowed to him on the field as he ran off. The Giants were all smiles in the dugout.

"He's been around, but he just has that excitement when he plays," said Barry Zito. "I think that's great, and that's what we need."

Tanaka also collected his first major-league hit in the fifth inning and, again, smiled wide and gave a small bow as the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Several hours later, the smiles were much harder to find.

Of making his debut, Tanaka said he "was nervous at the beginning, but as I was playing I got used to it and I was comfortable." Asked if he thinks his enthusiasm could catch on with a team that's struggling like the Giants are right now, Tanaka answered: "I came here to bring something new to the team."

Right now, the Giants will probably just take a steady contributor. Bochy said Tanaka "looked loose and relaxed. That's what you're hoping for from a guy who comes up here and that's how he played." Bochy said Tanaka will be in the lineup again Wednesday.

* Zito got a no-decision after allowing five runs in a home start for the first time since last Aug. 2, also against the Mets. In both innings the Mets scored against him, the rally began with a walk.

"Overall I just don't feel good that I wasted the effort of all the runs we got tonight," Zito said.

* The Giants can still salvage a game in this series, though in a bit of irony, the pitcher in their way Wednesday is a guy who might be in their rotation right now (in light of Ryan Vogelsong's absence), had they not traded him to the Mets in 2011 for Carlos Beltran.

Zack Wheeler said Monday he has no hard feelings about the trade -- but he does intend to use it as motivation, "to maybe show (the Giants) what they could've had, I guess." Matt Cain will take the mound for the Giants trying to become the first rotation member other than Madison Bumgarner to record a win since -- Cain on June 13, nearly a full month ago.

Bumgarner won the next day. Since then, the Giants are 5-18.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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