SAN FRANCISCO -- Yovani Gallardo and Wily Peralta in Milwaukee. James Shields and Danny Duffy in Kansas City. Chris Sale last night in their series opener against the White Sox at home.
Manager Bruce Bochy this morning struggled a little to pinpoint just why the Giants have had trouble coming up with clutch and extra-base hits recently, but did say that in the last week, the opposing starters they’ve faced have certainly played a part.
"We’ve really run through some good arms here," Bochy said. "I don’t know that I’ve ever seen, I think in six games six guys throwing 95-plus (mph). Four at 98."
The latter includes Sale, who hit 98 mph last night with two good breaking pitches while holding the Giants scoreless for eight innings. Facing that kind of pitching makes it hurt even more when the Giants squander an opportunity like they did in the first inning, with Hunter Pence tripling off Sale and getting thrown out at home trying to score on a ground ball. It was an early chance to get to Sale, and the Giants didn’t put another runner into scoring position until the late innings.
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Bochy reiterated a point he has made often over the past month, which is that the Giants’ lack of power has seemed to extend beyond home runs to fewer extra-base hits in general. Couple that with missing timely hits -- or having opposing teams take them away like the White Sox did in the ninth last night on a sterling double play started by second baseman Gordon Beckham -- and it’s a recipe for little offense.
"Runs are at a premium when you’re facing good pitching and those extra-base hits make life a lot easier," Bochy said. "It’s hard to string together three or four hits."
Then again, Bochy acknowledged that’s what the Giants need to start doing. Last night’s loss dropped them six games out of first place and to just five games above .500, a mark they haven’t been at since April 29, when they were 16-11.
They get a slight reprieve from the power arms today facing White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana, whose fastball averages 91-92 mph, according to FanGraphs. Quintana is 6-8 but does have a 3.04 ERA, and is 3-1 with a 1.82 ERA over his last 10 starts. Here’s the Giants lineup today:
And the White Sox lineup against Jake Peavy, who has switched his uniform number from 43 to 22, which was last worn -- very briefly -- by Dan Uggla:
LF De Aza
* A few injury notes: Brandon Belt (concussion) underwent tests this morning and Bochy said he was still waiting for results, but that it’s still "going to be day-to-day with his progress." Bochy said it will be up to medical personnel to determine when Belt is ready to play again, and that he isn’t sure if they’ll want to be more careful with Belt given that he has already experienced a recurrence of symptoms, but that there "is some concern."
Hector Sanchez (concussion) started for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies last night at DH and went hitless in four at-bats. Bochy said Sanchez is scheduled to catch today, and that "as far as I know, he’s doing great, so that’s good news."
Bochy was also asked about Marco Scutaro, and said: "Gosh, I haven’t talked to Scutaro in a while." He went on to say Scutaro likely isn’t close to playing, but the first answer should have made that clear.
* While the Giants’ 10-inning, 3-2 loss last night was tough to swallow, it did feature a few bright moments from their rookies. Panik had a good at-bat in the ninth before being robbed of a hit, and earlier singled off Sale for just the 12th hit allowed by Sale to a left-handed batter all season. Matt Duffy also showed little hesitation at second base throwing home to nail the potential go-ahead run in the top of the 10th, before Beckham followed with a go-ahead single.
"It was a really exciting game, playoff-type game, with the noise and the energy in the stadium," Bochy said. "They’re tough kids and I think they’ve handled themselves well."
* Peavy is still looking for his first win in a Giants uniform -- and his first win overall since April 25. Including his time in Boston, he’s 0-12 with a 5.25 ERA in his last 18 starts. His 12-game losing streak is the longest in the majors since Ricky Romero lost 13 straight decisions in 2012, according to the Giants’ pre-game notes.