© John Hefti | USA Today
The Giants cannot seem to get out of their own way. After closing a three-run deficit to just one, a pair of errors from two Gold Glove infielders gave life to the Pittsburgh Pirates offense, and the Pirates sank the Giants 10-5.
While Reyes Moronta shut down the Pirates in the sixth inning, Mark Melancon fell victim to poor luck in the seventh as the Giants trailed 3-2. A pair of seemingly traditional ground balls to traditionally-reliable infielders resulted in two baserunners to open the inning.
Joe Panik tried to backhand a simple grounder at second, allowing a leadoff runner. Then Evan Longoria charged toward a dribbler at third and threw a ball into the dirt past Austin Slater at first, letting both runners advanced to second and third.
Melancon forced a groundout on the next at-bat, but the inning was all downhill from there. After a single by Adam Frazier scored a run, Melancon got a force at the plate and looked like he might escape the inning with the Giants trailing just 4-2. But it was not to be for a Giants team that leads the major leagues in blown saves.
Gregory Polanco doubled to left field to drive in another Pirates run and move runners to second and third. Melancon’s night was over, but he fared better than Derek Law, the man who relieved him. Law entered the game only to allow a three-run home run to his first batter. After getting his way out of the seventh, Law was tortured by again in the eighth, allowing two runs to give the Pirates a 10-2 lead.
This pitching implosion came after Andy Suarez’s best start in five games, which says more about how bad his previous outings were than how good Thursday’s outing was. His season is one that has been defined by streaks, and right now, he is on a cold one.
Heading into a July 15 start against the Oakland Athletics, Suarez was rolling. He had a 1.71 ERA in six straight starts of five innings or more, allowing two earned runs or less in each start. But nearly everything since July 15 has been downhill.
While Suarez has lasted at least five innings in each of his last four starts, he’s been hit hard and hit often. In his four games prior to Thursday night, Suarez had a 7.89 ERA and averaged 7.5 hits per game. Thursday night was much the same.
Suarez allowed seven hits, the most devastating of which came in quick succession in the second inning. After a leadoff single from David Freese, Elias Dias hit a home run to left field, giving the Pirates a 2-0 lead. On the very next pitch, the same thing happened. Josh Bell hit a solo home run to the same part of the park, giving the Pirates a three-run cushion.
Suarez finished the game with three runs earned through five innings. He has a 7.43 ERA and allowed an average of 7.4 hits per game over his last five starts.
It took the Giants until the fifth inning to get their first hit of the game, and they didn’t pick up another until the ninth. After Austin Slater hit a leadoff single in the fifth inning, Alen Hanson pulled a move that he should consider trademarking: a triple ending with a face-first dive, much like a late-2000s Jose Reyes.
The triple put the Giants on the board, and two batters later, Steven Duggar doubled that total. With a hard single into center field, Hanson came home and the Giants trailed just 3-2. Duggar moved to second with one out, and third with two, but Andrew McCutchen – who is 0-for-18 with six strikeouts this season with runners on third base and two outs – grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.
The offense reappeared late in the ninth, as Joe Panik hit a two-run double to close the eight-run gap to six. Steven Duggar followed suit, driving in Panik with a double of his own.
The spark came too late, however, and the Giants dropped their third-straight game. The loss moves the team back to 57-59.