Bay Area Baseball

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August 10, 2013
Davis v. Lopez goes Orioles' way in Giants' 5-2, 10-inning loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Prior to Friday night, Javier Lopez had allowed one earned run in his last 37 appearances. Left-handed hitters were batting .169 against him this season in 65 at-bats with four extra-base hits, and six hits in their last 49 at-bats.

So Bruce Bochy said he felt confident walking Adam Jones with a runner on second and two outs in the 10th to bring up major-league home run leader Chris Davis to face Lopez. Lopez got ahead in the count 1-2, but Davis hit a fly ball into the gap in right-center that fell in for a two-run double, the big blow in the Giants' 5-2, 10-inning loss.

"I've got a guy who's throwing the ball very well and instead of having to go to (closer Sergio) Romo at that point (to face Jones) I've got a match-up that you like, a lefty-on-lefty," Bochy said.

"He got a fly ball. (Davis) just hit it where we couldn't get to it. That's a tough break and I think the way Lopez is throwing, we had the right guy out there for the match-up."

Matt Wieters followed with a single off Lopez to score Davis. Lopez has now made 217 appearances since joining the Giants in 2010, and in only three of them has he allowed three or more runs. The last was last May 24, when the Marlins tagged him for four runs in an inning.

You could argue Lopez shouldn't have been needed Friday anyway, Not after the Giants tied the game in the ninth on Hunter Pence's single and had runners on first and second with nobody out still against Orioles closer Jim Johnson. But Davis made a nice play to his right on a sharp grounder by Pablo Sandoval for a fielder's choice, and Johnson struck out Roger Kieschnick and got Gregor Blanco to line out softly to end the inning.

"Against a good club like that, you don't finish it, you could be asking for trouble," said Bochy. "And that's what happened."

Lopez wasn't second-guessing the move to walk Jones ahead of Davis.

"You never want to put more guys on base, but my job is to get those lefties out and I've been pretty good at it the last few years," he said. "I have full confidence I'm able to do that and Bochy thought the same way. Ultimately it just came down to one pitch, not finishing it."

Off the bat, Lopez said he thought Blanco might have had a chance to track the ball down due to its height, but "we had a shift going there and just weren't able to get there. Kind of perfect placement."

Good enough, anyway, to hand the Giants another frustrating defeat.

* Tomorrow's game story is heavy on Ryan Vogelsong's return to the rotation after a 69-game absence due to his fractured right pinkie finger. In that time, the Giants went from five games over .500 and one game out of first place in the West to 12 games under and 13 games out at the start of play Friday. Not an easy thing for a fiery guy like Vogelsong to watch.

Vogelsong pitched well in his return, allowing two runs in six innings, despite not having the boring low-90s fastball he has pitched with the past two years. In the middle innings the fastball was closer to mid-90s, yet Vogelsong held the Orioles hitless after the third and threw 103 pitches without feeling "like I was done."

"It felt good," Vogelsong said. "It's hard not to do something you love doing. I missed it, and it felt good to be back out there and be able to pitch again."

Vogelsong was asked about the dip in velocity and said he feels fine, that maybe he's still building up arm strength. His command was good enough Friday that he didn't have to be in the low 90s. That he was actually more effective after the third, he said, may have been because of "fatigue setting in and helping me slow down a little."

Bottom line, Vogelsong recorded just his second quality start of the season and the 12th in the last 14 games by the Giants' rotation. The starters have a combined 2.12 ERA in that span -- and the Giants are 5-9. As Lopez said Friday, the past two weeks have been more like "Giants baseball," but they're not winning the games that have become their style.

* Another way to illustrate the offensive issues -- the Giants began play Friday averaging 3.78 runs a game -- or nearly a full run less than the Orioles, who came in as the fourth-highest scoring team in baseball (4.75 runs a game).

When the Giants have scored four or more runs this season, the most recent being their 4-1 win over the Brewers on Thursday, they're 40-11.

* Brandon Belt had two more hits, including his second home run in as many days, and is now 11-for-24 in the month of August. He also remains the only Giant to homer at AT&T Park since July 20, when Buster Posey did it.

Friday's loss, by the way, was the Giants' 18th in their last 25 games at home -- a striking stat for a team built to thrive in its home park. With 21 home games left, the Giants are at dead even -- 30-30 -- at Third and King.

* It's getting to be an old refrain, but the Giants were really done in twice Friday by their lack of a clutch hit. Well before the ninth, they had two on with nobody out in the second inning against Chris Tillman and Kieschnick, Blanco and Vogelsong all struck out.

Bochy touted Tillman as "one of those guys that I don't think the hitters see real well. It gets on them quicker than it looks." Tillman didn't register much above 92 mph on the gun, but the Giants were late on a few fastballs, and Tillman, who lost his shot at being the first Orioles 15-game winner since 2006, mixed in a sharp curveball to great effect.

* A quirky stat from the pre-game notes: Tim Lincecum on Thursday became the first pitcher since Johnny Vander Meer in 1938 to pitch more than six innings and allow no more than one hit in his first win after a no-hitter. Of course, Vander Meer followed his no-hitter with another one in his very next start. Lincecum went four starts and nearly a calendar month between wins. Still counts.

* Another quirky stat: Dan Haren became in the third pitcher to beat all 30 major-league teams in the Washington Nationals' 9-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The others? A.J. Burnett and ... Barry Zito.

* Back in a little more than 12 hours with Wei-Yin Chen (6-4, 2.95) facing Chad Gaudin (5-2, 2.56).

-- 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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