Buster Posey accepted his 2014 Silver Slugger Award as the league’s top hitting catcher Tuesday evening and then took it and his regular bat back to the bench for a scheduled night off. His absence didn’t help a Giants lineup that, early this season, is having a difficult time mining runs.
The Giants snapped a streak of 18 scoreless innings on Matt Duffy’s sacrifice fly in the eighth that cut the Colorado Rockies’ lead to 3-1, and with Brandon Belt still on first base and two outs, Posey came up to pinch hit as the potential tying run. With most of the AT&T Park crowd on its feet, Posey drove a Rafael Betancourt fastball to deep center field.
The contact was loud and the crowd followed suit, but the ball came down just shy of the wall. Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon caught it leaping against the fence to end the inning, and Belt became the ninth and final runner stranded by the Giants in a 4-1 loss, their fifth in a row.
Blackmon’s was the second excellent catch made by Colorado in the eighth. After Angel Pagan singled and Belt walked to start the inning, Gregor Blanco popped a ball foul down the left-field line. Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado made an over-the-shoulder grab sprinting into the Giants’ bullpen, where he was upended by a rolled-up tarp before firing the ball back into the infield.
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Most damaging for the Giants, though, was another night of missing the timely hit. After leaving 12 men on base and being shut out in their home opener Monday, of the nine they stranded Tuesday, six came over the first four innings against Rockies starter Christian Bergman.
Belt popped out to Arenado in foul territory – on a more routine play – to end the third inning and leave two runners on. Blanco and Duffy led off the fourth with back-to-back singles, but Hector Sanchez struck out, Brandon Crawford flied out to center – extending his hitless streak to 19 at-bats – and Tim Hudson struck out on three pitches.
A parade of five Rockies relievers finished the win, with only Betancourt giving up a run. Giants leadoff hitter Nori Aoki reached in three of his four at-bats – including an infield single in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to 17 games going back to 2014 – but only reached third base once and was left there as Belt grounded out to end the fifth.
Pagan also had three singles Tuesday and scored the Giants’ only run since the seventh inning of their 6-4 loss Sunday in San Diego. Over their losing streak the Giants have scored seven runs and are 3-for-40 with men in scoring position.
As though underscoring their offensive struggles, the Giants, down 1-0 and with Colorado left fielder Corey Dickerson on third base with one out in the second inning, brought their infield in hoping to avoid a two-run deficit even with plenty of game remaining. It proved useless as Hudson threw a fastball off Sanchez’s glove for a wild pitch that let Dickerson score.
It was the second wild pitch in as many starts for Hudson, who had two last season. Hudson was not sharp early Tuesday, allowing the leadoff hitter to reach in each of the first four innings and paying for it twice – in the second and fourth, when Dickerson singled, took third on Nick Hundley’s soft single and scored on a D.J. LeMahieu bunt.
Notes – Manager Bruce Bochy said Posey will likely be back in the lineup today – though at first base, with Sanchez catching Tim Lincecum. The Giants play 14 games in a row to begin the season, and Bochy said Posey is “fine,” but he anticipated having to give Posey at least one game off before the Giants’ first team off-day next Monday.
▪ Third baseman Casey McGehee (left knee bone bruise) played catch and hit in the cage before Tuesday’s game. Bochy said McGehee was “doing better” but not yet ready to return to the lineup.
Bochy said Hunter Pence (forearm fracture) was scheduled to have an X-ray today that would give the Giants a better idea when Pence can start swinging a bat. Matt Cain (flexor tendon strain) remains at least a week away from throwing. Bochy said the Giants are “going to have to slow-play (Cain) a little bit with the setback.”
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