Giants right-hander Jake Peavy pointed emphatically at catcher Trevor Brown in a gesture of approval during the third inning Wednesday after getting Marcus Semien to hit what looked like a harmless-looking pop-up to shallow right field.
As Peavy turned back to the play, he watched the ball drop. And it set off an implosion.
Right fielder Mac Williamson and second baseman Ramiro Pena collided, resulting in a three-base error that started a barrage of bad Giants defense in the third and fourth innings. The result was a 7-1 loss by the Giants, who have dropped the first three games of this series to the A’s in humbling fashion after coming in with one of the best records in baseball.
Peavy had retired his first seven hitters before Semien’s pop-up fell between Williamson and Pena, who were both calling for the ball and collided. Semien sprinted for third base as Williamson retrieved the ball and Pena stayed down, grabbing at his left leg.
“It’s a loud environment and he’s facing the other way, so it’s a little tough to hear,” Williamson said. “I got there late and called it a little bit late. He didn’t hear me and I didn’t hear him, and we were both just trying to make the play.”
Semien scored from third on Billy Burns’ squeeze bunt, but that wasn’t the extent of the damage to the Giants. Pena left the game in the fifth inning with an ankle injury and was limping noticeably after the game. Manager Bruce Bochy said Pena had an X-ray which came back negative, but that the Giants, who already have four infielders on the disabled list, may have to call up more reinforcements from the minors.
“He’s looking at five to seven days,” Bochy said of Pena. “I think it’s pretty evident that we’re going to have to get somebody to help out here.”
Adding insult to injury, Pena was charged with an error for the dropped pop-up. It was the first of three errors by the Giants, but there were more defensive miscues than that.
After Burns’ bunt, Coco Crisp hit a line drive to left field that got past Angel Pagan, who had taken a sharp route, allowing Crisp a triple. Jed Lowrie then homered to right field on a ball that Williamson had in his glove momentarily before it popped out.
“I thought I had it,” Williamson said. “I heard the crowd go loud and I looked down and it wasn’t in my glove. Would’ve been a great play if I’d made it and I felt like it was a play I should’ve made, especially after botching the routine pop-up there. Could’ve gotten Jake out of the inning with one run that really should’ve have been there.”
Instead, the A’s led 3-0, and the inning didn’t end without another dropped pop-up, this one by third baseman Ruben Tejada, just called up from Triple-A. Peavy, who’d thrown 15 pitches in the first two innings, needed 40 to get through the third.
“He was in a good groove,” Bochy said. “That caught up with him. That was evident the following inning.”
Peavy walked Billy Butler with one out in the fourth and then gave up a towering home run to Yonder Alonso on the first pitch. Semien then hit a fly ball to the wall in left field that was catchable for Pagan, who reached out but let it fall for a triple.
Pagan said he lost the ball “in the sky. But I’m not going to put that as an excuse. I didn’t catch it. It’s not an excuse. I dropped it.”
Burns followed with a liner to left that scooted under Pagan’s glove, allowing Burns to take second with a double. It drew a visibly angry reaction from Peavy, who pitched to just one more hitter and departed charged with seven runs but only three earned in 3 1/3 innings.
“It’s certainly a frustrating night, just on all fronts,” Peavy said. “Obviously we made some mistakes. It’s a team game. You’ve got to pick your teammates up and I certainly didn’t do what I could on that front.”
Williamson had a frustrating night, too. Along with the misplays, he hooked a potential grand slam just foul in the fourth inning before grounding into an inning-ending double play. He also was called out for violating the league’s new slide rules at second base in the third inning on another double play.
“Just a tough night,” Williamson said.
Bochy dismissed the idea that the Giants could take some solace in sending ace Madison Bumgarner to the mound in Thursday’s finale.
“We’ve just got to clean it up,” Bochy said. “That’s one thing we were doing very well is catching the ball. You deal with the streaks where you have trouble scoring runs, but the one thing we should be consistent at is catching the ball. We’re a pretty good team defensively and that’s gotten away from us.”
Despite their first three-game losing streak since early May, the Giants remain six games above the Dodgers in the N.L. West.
“We’re just fortunate we’re in the position not to panic,” Peavy said. “There’s nobody in this room – I can’t speak for the staff or people above me – but there’s nobody in this room panicked. We like our position and we’ll be back out tomorrow. I promise you everybody’s going to show up at 3 o’clock tomorrow thinking Bum’s winning.”