© Ed Szczepanski | USA Today
There’s an old saying that lightning never strikes the same place twice. On Monday and Tuesday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy saw evidence to disprove that saying. After two seven-inning, seven-strikeout, no-run pitching performances from Dereck Rodriguez and Madison Bumgarner, the Giants were crushed by a pair of home runs off two normally-reliable relievers.
On Monday, Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez hit a three-run home run to left field with two outs in the ninth inning off Will Smith, who’d entered the game with a 1.27 ERA. On Tuesday, first baseman Tyler White hit a two-run homer off Ray Black, who hadn’t allowed a hit since his debut with the Giants on July 8. Bochy said the results were frustrating.
“It’s hard to take when you get two starts like that, shutout ball,” Bochy said. “Give them credit, they beat two of our hottest relievers and found a way to win the games. The whole team has had a little trouble getting runners in from third. But that’s hard to take when you get that kind of pitching, but you’re playing a good team with good pitching too. They kept it close and lightning hit us twice.”
Bochy said he didn’t think twice about putting Black in the game.
“I had no problem putting in Black,” Bochy said. “He gave up his first hit since his debut. The way he’s been throwing the ball, he’s been lights-out.”
Black said he was surprised to see White make the contact he did with his fourth straight fastball.
“It was a purpose pitch, trying to get a swing,” Black said. “It kind of ran a little bit in on him. I got him off the plate, he swung at a couple fastballs before. In my mind, I’m thinking he might be sitting on an offspeed pitch here and I just didn’t locate a fastball in a pitcher’s count. That’s on me. He tagged me for it.”
Much like Rodriguez last night, Bumgarner was more disappointed with the outcome of the game rather than the mistakes of the relievers.
“Bullpen has been throwing really good,” Bumgarner said. “Ray, I think that was the first hit he’s given up in a month.”
He added that the Giants can’t afford to continue losing.
“It’s tough any time,” Bumgarner said. “I felt like we had a good chance to win both of those games – a really good chance. We let them slip away. I mean, you never want to do that, but it’s getting to the time of year now where we have to minimize those. We have to find a way (to win).”