The Giants will always have fond memories of Great American Ball Park, home of the first of their comebacks in the 2012 postseason. The regular season games in Cincinnati, however, have been a much different story.
After Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Reds, the Giants have dropped 12 of their last 15 regular season games in Cincinnati, getting outscored 80-42. Marlon Byrd hit a go-ahead homer off Sergio Romo in the bottom of the eighth inning and Aroldis Chapman took over from there, hitting 100 mph while picking up his seventh save in seven chances.
This game could have gotten away from the Giants much earlier. Tim Lincecum caught a few breaks, but a big one went against him in the fifth inning. With two on and two outs, he threw Todd Frazier a 2-2 fastball on the outside corner that was a strike according to Pitch F/X but was just off the outer edge according to home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez. Frazier eventually got hit by a pitch, and Byrd followed with a soft flare to right that dropped, scored two, and ended Lincecum’s night.
Lincecum walked off to a deficit after the Giants had gotten him a pair of early runs against Reds ace Johnny Cueto.
Trailing by one in the eighth, the Giants appeared to get going when Andrew Susac drew a leadoff walk. Susac was promptly picked off of first, but Joe Panik, his former minor league roommate, followed with a triple to left and scored the tying run on Angel Pagan’s single to right.
Romo gave up nine homers last season but Byrd’s blast was the first allowed this year by the right-hander. Byrd became the first player to take Romo deep in a regular season game since Miguel Cabrera got his revenge last Sept. 6.
Starting pitching report: Lincecum didn’t give up a hit until his 64th pitch, but that doesn’t tell you much about how he actually pitched. He looked uncomfortable on the mound at times and walked five in 4 2/3 innings. Lincecum has now walked three-or-more batters in five of his seven starts, but it hasn’t fully caught up to him. He exited this one with a 2.43 ERA.
Bullpen report: Javier Lopez has a WHIP of 0.54. That’s not a typo. Lopez retired all four batters he faced, including two left-handed hitters. Lefties are 2 for 19 off him this season.
At the plate: Brandon Belt was hotter than any Giants hitter last week, but he’s in a major slump on this trip. Belt struck out three times and has eight whiffs in the last three games. It seemed a lock that Belt, swinging the way he was at home, would hit a homer on this trip. Now you have to wonder if he’s about to get a day or two off.
In the field: Pagan’s sliding catch was one of the biggest plays of the 2012 NLDS, and he had a couple highlights Thursday while giving Lincecum a big boost. Pagan went to the wall to rob Zack Cozart of extra bases in the long first inning. With two on and one out in the fourth, Pagan chased down Skip Schumaker’s liner to center and made a perfect throw to first to double up Wandering Brayan Pena.
Up next: A big mismatch on paper. Madison Bumgarner faces veteran righty Jason Marquis (2-2, 5.66 ERA), who is pitching for, like, his 28th big league team. Bumgarner (3-2, 3.30) has given up six earned runs in 12 career innings at Great American Small Park.