Programming note: Reds-Giants coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Giants Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area.
SAN FRANCISCO -- How do you sum up this insanity? Well, Bruce Bochy actually did it succinctly and kind of perfectly.
"Entertaining," he said. "But a tough loss."
That's this game in a nutshell. This was one of the wildest regular season games you'll ever see, and it certainly was fun. The Giants had a ton of fun during their rallies, but ultimately they went down 9-8 and lost a chance to really propel themselves forward. They had won four straight and it looked like the fifth win in five games on this homestand would be one of the nuttiest in recent franchise history. It wasn't to be, and for a weird reason, too. The bullpen -- so good this month and so dominant on this homestand -- collapsed multiple times.
"The boys battled hard, but the seventh inning killed us," Bochy said. "A couple errors, walks, a hit batsman -- you're asking for trouble."
The bullpen had given up three runs in the last nine games, posting a 1.00 ERA across 27 innings. But four relievers combined to give up five runs in the seventh. Josh Osich made a big throwing error, Hunter Strickland hit a batter and walked one, and George Kontos gave up a two-run bloop single. The fielding in that inning was sloppy, too.
"I think one ball was hit decently," Bochy said. "You give them extra outs and sometimes you're opening up a big inning there. The bullpen has done a great job, they have. They have been used a lot. We just pretty much beat ourselves."
The Giants twice tried to come back. The attempt that hit included a Madison Bumgarner walk off of Aroldis Chapman. Bumgarner became the second pitcher to ever bat against Bumgarner and the first to reach base. Per ESPN Stats and Info, 41 of the previous 57 hitters to fall behind 0-2 to Chapman this season struck out. Bumgarner fouled off a 100 mph fastball and worked a walk. He's unlike any other baseball player alive right now.
"He's got power and he worked a great at-bat," Bochy said. "He got a walk and he kept the rally going. I've used him a couple times in that situation. I know he's going to give us some good swings, which he did."
Bumgarner downplayed the moment.
"You've just got to lay off the balls and swing at the strikes," he said. "That's really all there is to it. I tried to keep it as simple as I can."
It wasn't that easy, but he made it look that way. The bigger problem for Bochy is that his bench is so full of injured players that he had to use a second starter, Mike Leake, in the 10th. That's not supposed to happen with expanded rosters in September. Still, the Giants almost brought a run home that inning, too.
"I feel for these guys," Bochy said. "They kept coming."
--- Hours before the end, Chris Heston gave up three runs in the first inning. He settled in and pitched well through the fifth, but that first inning put the Giants in a hole.
"I think it's kind of a trend," Heston said. "They're getting to me early. I've got to find a way to take that mindset to the first inning."
--- Another rookie, Jarrett Parker, hit his first career homer. Parker said he was disappointed in his at-bats during an earlier cameo here, and who knows, he might have seen quotes from Bochy saying he wasn't ready. When he got called back up, he vowed to not "be hesitant." He said he wanted to "be aggressive and let it all hang out." The double the other night was on the second pitch of the at-bat. The homer was smoked, and came on the first pitch he saw. It was the first pinch-hit homer of the year for the Giants, but Parker had to wait until about 11:55 p.m. to finally get the baseball.
Allow me to stand on a soap box here: It's just a baseball, and it means a hell of a lot more to the player who worked his whole life for that moment than to the fan who happened to catch it in the arcade. Those negotiations were way too difficult, and way too much was asked of Parker. Don't be 'that fan,' people. Try to be cool.
--- Brandon Belt looked uncomfortable after taking a knee to the head, and he made his first fielding error of the year. Of course, Belt nearly had his 2014 season ended by a concussion, but that experience allowed him to kind of become the clubhouse expert on the matter. He said he's fine, and the only discomfort was with his neck.
"The neck was the main concern," he said. "It stiffened up, but it's fine."
Belt said he'll be diligent and get checked out tomorrow, too. But it sounds like the Giants avoided having a third player get concussed.