SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants took the field on Tuesday without Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan, and with Albert Suarez making a second spot start in place of Matt Cain. That wouldn’t leave much margin for error against a middling team. Against the Red Sox, the highest-scoring team in baseball, there was even less breathing room.
So it wasn’t surprising to see Bruce Bochy look so annoyed during a short post-game press conference. His team had a chance for one of the better wins of the season, but instead fell 5-3 because of so many little things that went wrong.
The list is long, starting with Gregor Blanco hitting into a double play with the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth. Trevor Brown had his roughest night behind the plate, throwing a ball away during a seventh-inning Sox rally that tied the game. Two different Giants relievers walked batters in that inning. Santiago Casilla walked a pinch-hitter on four pitches in the 10th as he tried to bunt. The next batter, Mookie Betts, reached on a bunt.
“The whole game, the walks hurt us,” Bochy said. “Those little things catch up with you and they put down a great bunt and we didn’t handle that. It’s a tough game to let get away because Albert threw great.”
The loss ultimately went to Casilla, who had a night that neatly summed up his bizarre season. He was dominant in the ninth, striking out two of the three he faced in such a quick fashion that Bochy sent him back out for the 10th. That inning went: double, walk, bunt single, groundout, two-run game-winning single. Does Bochy still have faith in his closer?
“He went out and gave us a great ninth inning,” Bochy said. “We just put him out there again. He had thrown 10 pitches and felt fine.”
If there was a positive on this night other than Suarez, it was the four-out contribution from Hunter Strickland. Bochy said over the weekend that some of his relievers will need to graduate from matchup duty to full-inning-plus status. Strickland, who could be a fit in the ninth if the Giants do ever make a change, had one of his better nights of the season. He said the outing gave him confidence.
The rest of the night left the Giants rather deflated. The three-game losing streak is their first since May 8-10.
--- This place had a Fenway West feel much of the night, and no moment was louder than when David Ortiz was sent up as a pinch-hitter. Ortiz faced former teammate Javier Lopez, who took part in a pre-game ceremony to honor the retiring DH. The first pitch was grounded to a shifted Brandon Crawford and he went for a do-or-die double play, missing a tag on Chris Young by about an inch. The Giants really couldn’t have asked for a better shot at holding the lead given the way Ortiz has hit this year.
“That’s what you’re hoping for,” Bochy said. “A ground ball and he just avoided the tag. That’s a tough break there.”
--- Suarez got a standing ovation after departing in the seventh and he said that’s the loudest crowd he’s played for. To do what he did against a good lineup was pretty impressive.
“I was trying to always keep the ball down,” he said.
He does that about as well as Yusmeiro Petit used to, and he’s looking very Petit-ish at the moment. If Matt Cain needs more time the Giants should certainly feel just fine with throwing Suarez out there against the Brewers next week. He has been a revelation through five relief appearances and two starts.
Does Suarez want to continue as an MLB starter?
“If they let me do it, I’m going to do it, “ he said, smiling.
No matter what his role is, the nine-year minor leaguer appears to have found a home.
--- If you missed it earlier, here’s my story on Madison Bumgarner’s desire to participate in the Home Run Derby.