Bay Area Baseball

Follow the latest news and notes on the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics

July 27, 2013
Bochy: At 11 games under .500, Giants are 'really being tested'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy said this of Saturday night's 1-0 loss to the Cubs, in which the Giants left 10 runners on base -- all in the final five innings and including two bases-loaded situations in the eighth and ninth -- and went 1-for-10 with men in scoring position to waste eight shutout innings from Madison Bumgarner:

"We got what we deserved."

Bochy also said of the Giants' clubhouse, "It's quiet in there, believe me," and he wasn't kidding. Noise was at a minimum after the Giants dropped their sixth of seven games to fall a season-high 11 under .500 and nine out of first place in the N.L. West. They're tied with the Padres for last place, though San Diego actually has a winning percentage that is one-thousandth of a point better.

The Giants have lost 21 of 28 games and still have the worst record in baseball since May 14 at 23-42. They also have a worse record than the Cubs, who ran out a lineup Saturday that featured three former Giants -- Cody Ransom, Nate Schierholtz and Cole Gillespie -- and watched Schierholtz hit the tiebreaking home run off Sergio Romo in the ninth.

"We're trying things," Bochy said. "That's all I guess you can do is keep coming out here and working. But when you get those chances like we had and you don't deliver, you're probably going to get what we got."

The Giants loaded the bases in the eighth against Pedro Strop with no outs on a leadoff walk and two bunts, and had the heart of their order coming up. But Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval both hit soft grounders that led to force-outs at home, and Hunter Pence struck out swinging at a slider.

"You have the guys up there you hope to have in those situations," Bochy said. "I will say their guy was throwing well. He was throwing hard and had a good breaking ball. ... But we couldn't get a fly ball, a cheap hit or anything."

That ensured a no-decision for Bumgarner despite his season-high 116 pitches over eight shutout innings. Bumgarner has allowed one run in 15 innings in his last two starts and he's 0-1. He acknowledged the team's struggles are frustrating and that "it's only natural" for players to press when things are going badly, but when asked if it's frustrating for him personally to pitch well without the wins to show for it, he gave a curt: "No."

"We've just kind of been streaky this year," Bumgarner said. "Everybody in here knows how good they are. It's just like everything else, the pitching's been streaky, the hitting's been streaky, the defense. We haven't really been able to find that consistency.

"I think everybody in here believes in the guys that we do have. It's just about putting it all together and coming together. We know what we've got to do and we know how to do it. We've just got to get it done."

Time is surely running out. This figured to be a critical homestand for the Giants, leading them almost right up to the trade deadline, and they've gone 3-6, looking overmatched for much of the series against the Reds and now losing two games in disastrous fashion to the Cubs, who came in 10 games under .500 and floundering in the N.L. Central. If they can't salvage Sunday's series finale behind Tim Lincecum, they will have done little to persuade the front office -- including general manager Brian Sabean, who said on KNBR on Thursday he was almost ready to "turn the page" on this season -- to think otherwise.

"You've just got to keep going forward and keep working hard," Bumgarner said. "You can't stop and start taking it easy and coasting. You've got to keep pushing. You never know what might happen the rest of the season."

* Romo, who was on the mound for Brandon Belt's game-changing error Friday night and took back-to-back losses for the first time in his career, said this of the home-run pitch to Schierholtz:

"Just right down the middle. That's what happens. This is the big leagues. You make bad pitches and they're going to hurt you."

Romo typically lives and dies by his slider, but opted for a full-count fastball to the left-handed hitting Schierholtz and saw it run back over the middle of the plate. Bochy said he hadn't felt the need to say anything to Romo immediately after the game.

"I'll talk to him tomorrow," Bochy said. "He's a guy that's done a lot of good things for us this year. He's done a fine job. Just made a mistake."

Romo said his confidence hasn't been shaken by the losses.

"You never want to be on the losing end of anything, but I'm very confident in myself," he said. "I look forward to getting an opportunity to pitch again tomorrow."

* While things spiral downward for the Giants as a team, Bumgarner remains one of the few constants. Saturday was his eighth consecutive start pitching at least seven innings while allowing two or fewer earned runs. He has a 1.58 ERA in that span, has allowed 30 hits while striking out 56 batters in 57 innings -- and his record is 5-3.

Bumgarner didn't allow a runner past first base until the sixth inning and twice pitched around two-out errors by his infielders in the third and fourth innings. He was still in line for the win when the Giants squandered their scoring chance in the eighth.

"(Strop) is pretty nasty, so you know it wasn't going to be easy," Bumgarner said. "You like your chances usually with the bases loaded and no outs. But there's times when it don't happen."

Still, Pence indicated that Bumgarner's outing going for naught was the most frustrating part of a really frustrating night.

"We had excellent pitching today," Pence said. "It's extremely tough when you pitch that good and you aren't able to capitalize on it."

* The game had two halves for the Giants -- the one where they couldn't get a runner on and the one where they couldn't drive a runner in. The former came against Cubs lefty Chris Rusin, who was making his 10th career start and retired the first 13 hitters he faced. Rusin hadn't completed six innings in any of his previous starts, but got through seven scoreless Saturday.

"He had some good sink on his fastball and was locating his offspeed pretty well," Pence said. "He had us hitting ground balls and he was working the strike zone."

Pence led off the seventh with a double that could have been more had it not one-hopped the wall in Triples Alley -- a stroke of bad luck followed by another when Brandon Belt ripped a two-out liner that Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo caught on a leap.

Pence agreed it was an "unfortunate bounce," but said the bad breaks -- and the current funk the Giants are in -- are "just part of baseball."

* Bochy indicated the Giants will likely activate Guillermo Moscoso ahead of Sunday's game and announce a corresponding move then.

* One note that was sort of glossed over in the post-game: Bochy said Joaquin Arias, who had two hits Saturday and played solid defense at shortstop, is going to "play against left-handed pitching." Brandon Crawford has been a regular in the lineup, but has struggled to hit lefties -- a .207 average compared to .305 against right-handers -- and Bochy said his being out of the lineup Saturday was as much a product of Arias' at-bats against lefties as getting Crawford a day off.

We'll see if Arias is in the lineup again Sunday, when the Giants face another left-hander in Travis Wood (6-7, 2.95). The Giants counter with Tim Lincecum (5-10, 4.73). After Saturday night's loss, they're 2-9 in their last 11 games facing a left-handed starter.

* The Giants had two more errors Saturday and now lead the majors with 76. Bochy said the Giants won't hit on the field before Sunday's 1:05 p.m. start -- but will take fielding practice.

* Pence picked up his "Reverend" nickname last October for his rousing speeches, so we'll close on his answer Saturday when asked if there was a pervading sense in that quiet Giants clubhouse that this slide for the defending World Series champs simply has to end -- sometime.

"Part of being a competitor is continuing to give every last bit of effort that's in you and constantly trying to make adjustments to turn it around and continue to believe," he said.

"It's definitely tough. It's frustrating and not fun to be not getting wins and not having things fall your way. But at the same time you've got to see the opportunity to be out here playing and competing. You've got to see the opportunity in the tough times too."

-- 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.
Email: mkawahara@sacbee.com.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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