BOSTON — Like just about every other starter who has come into Fenway Park this season, Jake Peavy had nice things to say about David Ortiz. He joked that his former teammate needs to find some way to the West Coast next season. If Ortiz does, it won’t be as a player. This is his final run in the big leagues.
“He’s a year too late if you ask me,” Peavy said of the decision to retire. “I’d have loved to play that game without him tonight.”
Ortiz had the big blow, a 442-foot moonshot that drove in three in a 4-0 Red Sox win. But Peavy knew another truth: With the way the Giants are going right now, Brock Holt’s solo homer in the third was the ballgame.
The Giants have scored 10 total runs while losing four straight to open the second half. After weeks of showing resilience, they very much look like a team that needs Hunter Pence, Joe Panik and Matt Duffy back in the lineup. This lineup was built to be deep, but it’s now relying on three guys at the heart. Those three — Brandon Belt, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford — are a combined 5-for-48 since the All-Star break.
“It’s a lot to ask of those other guys who came up,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “They’ve been doing a good job, but it’s the heart of the order that carries you for the most part. They’re just getting shut down.”
Belt, coming off his first All-Star appearance, is hitless in 16 at-bats on this trip. He was 0-for-4 on Tuesday, striking out twice, including once with two on in the first. Posey and Crawford followed with strikeouts.
Belt had been locked in since Opening Day, but this slump has him searching for answers. Before the game, Belt switched to a new bat. “Some of my bats have holes in them,” he said. Afterward, he met with hitting coach Hensley Meulens. The two honed in on the same issue: Belt has been too passive.
“I’m not hurting certain pitches,” he said. “The last four games, I haven’t been ready to hit when I get my pitch.”
Belt used to go through slumps like this. He thought that version was gone.
"I’ve learned so much, I feel I should be consistent,” he said.
The Giants haven’t been able to overcome the slumps while playing without three hitters who regularly slot in near the top of the order. On the injury front, there was good news and bad. Panik played five innings for Triple-A Sacramento and lined out twice. Duffy did some running down at the team facility in Scottsdale and reported that he feels better than he has at any point since getting hurt.
But Pence, the missing power bat, was a late scratch from his rehab start. He warmed up for the River Cats but didn’t play. Bochy said there was no setback.
“(The trainers) decided not to play him and let him get another day,” Bochy said. “They thought it was wise to give him one more day.”
The Giants might get Panik back in New York this weekend, but it’ll be a while before they’re fully whole again, if they ever are. The pitching has carried them to first, but on Tuesday, Peavy paid for two mistakes. He wanted to make Holt hit one to the big part of the yard instead of walking him, and the No. 9 hitter smoked one into the bullpen instead. The situation with Ortiz was pretty simple.
“You’re obviously setting up an inning to a guy you don’t want to face in that situation,” he said of putting two on in front of Ortiz. “I didn’t get the pitch where it needed to be.”
The homers represented two-thirds of Boston’s hits against Peavy. He put four on base and all four scored. Peavy retired the final nine he faced and said he felt so strong he thought he might go the distance.
“I thought he was pretty good,” Bochy said. “He made the mistake for the solo homer. With Ortiz, he just (made) a mistake there and he’s done that to so many pitchers in the game. I thought Jake had good stuff. It’s hard to believe he gave up four runs with the stuff he had.”
--- In other injury news: Cory Gearrin threw a bullpen session down in Scottsdale … Ehire Adrianza (who is red hot) will move from San Jose to Sacramento on Monday as he continues his rehab assignment. Bochy joked that Adrianza is swinging such a hot bat that he might get called up on this trip. Hey, the guy did hit his first career homer at Yankee Stadium in 2013 …
--- If you’ve never been, Fenway is awesome. Add it to your list.
--- If you’re upset over the loss, here’s a podcast with Trevor Brown.