The Giants entered their four-game set against the Rockies this weekend with the worst offense in Major League Baseball.
Then, in the span of five minutes, San Francisco lost both of its .300 hitters.
In the top half of the seventh inning, with the Giants trailing 9-1, third baseman Eduardo Nunez reached base on an infield single to extend his Major League-leading on-base streak to 29 games. On his way up the line, Nunez tweaked his hamstring, and after rushing past the bag, Nunez needed to come out of the game.
Two batters later, catcher Buster Posey came to the plate and launched his ninth home run of the season, a towering drive to left center that cut the Rockies’ lead to 9-3.
On his way around the base paths, Posey appeared to develop a noticeable limp, and when he reached the dugout, the Giants had the former MVP follow Nunez back to the clubhouse.
After the game, Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy said neither Nunez or Posey would need to spend time on the disabled list, but on Friday, neither player is in San Francisco’s starting lineup.
With just 12 position players on the team’s roster, a last place San Francisco club is now short-handed, and at the worst possible time.
In Nunez’s place, reserve infielder Aaron Hill will start at third base, while backup catcher Nick Hundley will start behind the plate. Andrew Baggarly of The San Jose Mercury News reported Posey is available to come off the bench on Friday, but the Giants would probably prefer to give their starter a full night’s rest.
With Nunez and Posey out, infielder Kelby Tomlinson and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez are the only healthy position players not in the Giants’ starting lineup.
After starter Matt Moore last just three innings on Thursday night in Denver, the Giants will turn to Jeff Samardzija who is in line to make one of the most important starts of the season for San Francisco’s staff. Yes, even teams that sit 16.5 games out of first place play important games.
Samardzija has been the Giants’ most consistent pitcher over the 2017 season, especially during the last month. Samardzija did suffer his eighth loss of the season in his last outing, a 3-2 defeat against the Minnesota Twins, but manager Bruce Bochy pinned the defeat on his offense’s inability to help a pitcher who made two critical mistakes.
Since the month of May began, Samardzija has recorded 65 strikeouts and just two walks over an eight-start stretch, and he said on Saturday that for the first time in his career, he’s able to throw all five of his pitches for strikes.
After the Giants used five relievers in Thursday evening’s 10-9 loss, San Francisco needs Samardzija to pitch deep into Friday’s contest to keep the bullpen intact.
If Samardzija is bounced early on Friday, or if Saturday starter Matt Cain struggles, the franchise may be forced to call up a AAA pitching prospect like Joan Gregorio, who was scheduled to start for the Sacramento River Cats on Thursday, but removed from the rotation shortly after Moore’s disastrous outing in Denver.
- Posey made two errors in Thursday evening’s game, including one on a throw he sailed into center field as he attempted to cut down Rockies’ outfielder Raimel Tapia on the base paths. It was just the second multiple-error game of Posey’s career, and his first since 2012. The 2016 Gold Glove catcher made three errors last season.
- Two Giants’ pitchers, Samardzija and Ty Blach, made plate appearances on Thursday night. Blach delivered the first pinch hit by a Giants’ pitcher since July 31, 2016, when Madison Bumgarner notched a pinch hit against the Washington Nationals. Blach’s pinch-hit single plated a run, and marked his third RBI of the season.
- Brandon Crawford’s three-run home run in the eighth inning snapped a season-long drought for the Giants, who became the final team in Major League Baseball to record a three-run home run this year.
- Austin Slater recorded a career-high four hits on Thursday, pushing his batting average to .405 on the season and giving the rookie his fourth multi-hit game in his last five starts.