SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants’ taste for the dramatic never fails.
As we saw in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, they refuse to go quietly, always pulling that rabbit out of their hat and giving the home fans motivation never to leave a game early.
There’s no denying their grit and competitiveness is off the charts.
But if the tendency is to give this team a pat on the back for the way they fought back Tuesday and Wednesday, it’s fair to say a kick in the rear would also be warranted.
In back-to-back games that went to extra innings, the Giants failed to nab victories against a division opponent that is chasing them in the early-season standings.
Shortstop Brandon Crawford, who drove in both of the Giants’ runs Wednesday and tied it game with a ninth-inning homer, summed things up after his team dropped two of three to Arizona.
“In the end, it’s one win and two losses,” Crawford said. “We all know we can come back. We’ve been doing it since last year. You can never count us out. We just couldn’t hold the lead.”
Big picture, it was still a successful six-game homestand.
The Giants went 4-2. They are 9-3 against the National League West. And with a six-game road trip beginning Friday against the cellar-dwelling San Diego Padres and these same Diamondbacks, they’ve got a chance to distance themselves more from two teams looking up at them in the division.
They just don’t want to make a habit of some of their recent tendencies.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy talked before Wednesday’s game of the need to generate more offense earlier in games. Over the first seven innings of their past three games, the Giants have scored a total of three runs.
That’s leaving their pitchers very little margin for error.
Madison Bumgarner was stellar once again Wednesday, allowing just one run over 7 1/3 innings. But clinging to a 1-0 lead in the eighth, he allowed a pinch-hit double to Eric Hinske and a game-tying single to A.J. Pollock, and his chance at victory went out the window.
So confident was Bochy in his 23-year-old lefty that he left Bumgarner in to hit for himself in the seventh, with a runner on third and one out after the Giants had taken a 1-0 lead.
“He had, what, a three-hit shutout at that point?” Bochy said. “I probably would have kicked myself more if I would have taken him out and something happened.”
For the second straight day, the Giants had one of their outfielders make a costly mental goof. With the score 1-1 in the ninth, Angel Pagan fielded a bloop hit off the bat of the speedy Didi Gregorius, and as he held on to the ball too long, Gregorius streaked into second base with a double. That put him in position to score on Gerardo Parra’s single.
A night earlier, it was Andres Torres who didn’t get the ball back to the infield quick enough, allowing Gregorius an extra base in the 11th inning. He scored the go-ahead run shortly after.
“As outfielders, we definitely gotta probably pick it up a little bit as far as getting ball in quicker (so) it’s a single,” Bochy said. And let’s not forget the comical episode in the eighth, when Hinske’s double went down the left-field line and Giants reliever Santiago Casilla scooped up the ball in the bullpen, not realizing it was in play. That mistake was insignificant – it was ruled a double, and Hinske likely would have had a double anyway – but it was another sign of a player caught napping.
All in all, there’s a lot to like about the way the Giants are playing. For one, Crawford continues developing into a dynamic offensive player.
But at the end of a 162-game season, one or two losses in games that could have gone either way can wind up haunting a team.
The Giants would be well-served to stash games like Wednesday’s into the victory column, with or without the drama.