Giants throw away late chances in loss to Diamondbacks

Published: Friday, Apr. 11, 2014 - 1:04 am

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants bade a ceremonial farewell to Candlestick Park before playing the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday at AT&T Park, then turned in a 4-hour, 10-minute game complete with fog, swirling winds and seagulls swarming the air above center field in the seventh inning.

Among the other oddities: The Giants used every reliever in their bullpen. Their All-Star catcher Buster Posey recorded the first bunt hit of his big-league career. Michael Morse hit a ball an estimated 410 feet that went for a double. Three different outfielders let balls drop near them that appeared to get caught in the wind.

In the end, the Giants lost a 6-5 decision in 10 innings and the series to Arizona. Tony Campana’s two-out RBI single off Yusmeiro Petit in the 10th was the decisive blow, but the costliest play came in the eighth, when Pablo Sandoval charged Campana’s grounder with two outs and runners on first and second and threw wildly over the head of Brandon Belt at first, allowing the tying run to score.

The Giants had come back from an early 4-1 deficit and protected a 5-4 lead in the sixth and seventh innings despite the Diamondbacks having the tying run on third with one out in the sixth and the bases loaded with nobody out in the seventh. Santiago Casilla nearly wriggled out of the eighth as well but for Sandoval’s throw on a play on which he likely wouldn’t have gotten the speedy Campana even with a good throw.

"He just got into rush mode there, that’s all," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Game on the line, he’s got to be a bit more cautious. (Campana’s) speed, sure, it can affect an infielder when you’re going down the line as quick as he gets down there, but you have to understand the situation.

"If you can’t get him, you can’t get him, but you’ve got to at least try to make a good throw and it got away from him."

The Giants had their own chances in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with one out. But Brandon Belt flew out to shallow left field, too shallow for Brandon Crawford to tag up from third, and Sandoval’s drive to right field was run down by Gerardo Parra

"That’s one you hate to lose at home," Bochy said. "Those are games you’re supposed to win, and this one slipped away. Especially when you come back the way we did -- the guys did a great job of that."

After chipping away at the early deficit against Diamondbacks starter Randall Delgado, the Giants took the lead in the fifth inning on Morse’s two-out, two-run double that hit off the top of the brick wall in right-center field. That’s a home run in pretty much any other major-league stadium. Here, it gave the Giants a 5-4 lead, with Morse still clapping his hands together emphatically as he pulled into second base.

If there’s a positive for the Giants to draw from this game, it’s the fact that they did rally to take a lead after trailing early behind a shaky Ryan Vogelsong. At times last year it felt like when the Giants fell behind early they simply lacked the firepower to make it up. Morse wasn’t here last season, but he was asked about the rally and said the "vibe in here is that kind of feel -- doesn’t matter if we’ve got the lead or we’re down by a lot, we’re still fighting and we’re still having quality at-bats."

That bodes well if true, but likely doesn’t take much of the sting out of Thursday night, when the Giants let a shot at another series win against their division rivals blow away.

"They wanted it as bad as we did," Morse said. "It was like a boxing match out there."

* Two quick updates: Bochy said that closer Sergio Romo, who pitched the ninth inning and was later shown on the Giants’ TV broadcast apparently in some discomfort in the dugout while being attended by trainers, is not hurt. Rather, Romo was dealing with a stomach virus and "his stomach was cramping up on him," Bochy said.

"He felt it warming up," Bochy said. "I saw the same thing you did, but (trainer) Dave Groeschner said it was from a touch of the stomach flu he caught."

Second, the Giants’ Triple-A Fresno affiliate had a scary moment tonight when outfielder Darren Ford -- who had short stints with the Giants in 2010 and 2011 -- had to be taken off the field in Salt Lake City in an ambulance after crashing into a wall chasing a ball.

Assistant general manager Bobby Evans said Ford was diagnosed with a concussion and multiple abrasions. Additional tests came back clear and Ford was to be released from the hospital, scheduled to travel back to Fresno with the team tomorrow, Evans said.

That’s obviously reassuring news, as pictures of the scene that appeared on social media looked pretty bad. Evans said Ford will be placed on the disabled list while he rests and recovers from the concussion.

* Now, what to make of Vogelsong’s outing? The right-hander fueled Arizona’s two-run second himself by hitting Miguel Montero and walking Mark Trumbo to start the rally, and that inning could have been worse if not for Gerardo Parra getting caught off third base on a safety squeeze by Delgado. Vogelsong allowed another two runs in the third when Montero doubled on an off-speed pitch near his ankles.

But after that, Vogelsong didn’t allow another hit, struck out three of the final seven hitters he faced and got a double-play ball to nullify a second hit batter in the fifth. He even departed in line for the win, though he needed 93 pitches to grind through five innings and gave up a double to Mark Trumbo leading off the sixth.

"I like the way he bowed his neck," Bochy said. "You give up a crooked number two innings in a row, get down 4-1, I know that was frustrating for him. But he did regroup and he pitched well after that.

"Hopefully he’s encouraged by how he bounced back and threw the ball well there."

It didn’t seem like that was the case.

"It was better, but still not where I want to be," a terse Vogelsong said. "I felt better the last couple innings. Still not as crisp as I’d like to be, though."

Vogelsong described his trouble innings as "really weird. I felt like they hit some good pitches and I got away with some bad pitches." Illustrating the first part was Montero’s double on a changeup that could easily have drawn a double-play grounder, but that the Diamondbacks’ catcher golfed into Triples Alley.

Vogelsong, who has now allowed eight runs on 14 hits in nine innings over his first two starts, also took little solace in the offense’s ability to pick him up.

"They really gave us a chance," Vogelsong said. "I don’t feel like I gave us much of a chance. And the bullpen did great, they threw the ball exceptionally well. (Petit) deserves a better fate than what he got tonight. And that comes back to me. I’ve got to be able to go out and get through that sixth inning and take some of the stress off the bullpen. A lot of this comes back to me tonight."

* For a while, it looked like the collective MVP of the game would be the Giants bullpen. After Vogelsong departed, David Huff came on and recorded two outs before giving way to Juan Gutierrez, who struck out pinch hitter A.J. Pollock to strand Trumbo at third and preserve the one-run lead.

Javier Lopez similarly picked up Jean Machi in the seventh, after Machi made a big pitch himself to get a comebacker from Martin Prado with the bases loaded and no outs to start a 1-2-3 double play. Lopez then came on and struck out Montero.

"They did a nice job of picking each other up," Bochy said. "They were out there with the game on the line a few times and made the pitches."

Bochy said he had no reservations about using Petit in the 10th even with Petit having thrown two innings the night before. Had the game continued much longer, it could have gotten interesting. The Giants were out of relievers, and Bochy said: "You might have seen (outfielder Juan) Perez out there," had it reached a point where Petit had to leave.

* Bochy said Posey "surprised us all" by bunting for a hit with two outs and Angel Pagan on third in the fourth inning. Posey also paid for his hustle a little as his arm got caught up with that of Paul Goldschmidt at the bag, causing Posey to hit the ground hard.

Posey got back up quickly and caught the rest of the game, but Bochy acknowledged: "He got clotheslined pretty good, so I was a little nervous."

* Pagan extended his season-long hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the third. Morse, meanwhile, has hit safely in each of his past eight games and driven in at least one run in seven of his last eight. He doubled twice Thursday.

* The Giants next welcome in the Colorado Rockies for a three-game series starting on Friday night. Here are the pitching probables:

Friday: LHP Madison Bumgarner (1-0, 1.74) vs. LHP Jorge De La Rosa (0-1, 8.31)

Saturday: RHP Matt Cain (0-1, 5.73) vs. LHP Brett Anderson (0-2, 4.50)

Sunday: RHP Tim Hudson (2-0, 1.15) vs. RHP Jordan Lyles (2-0, 3.86)


Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

Read more articles by Matt Kawahara



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