There are some losses that both turn stomachs and seasons, and Thursday’s could prove to fill that category for the Giants.
In a season about defensive positioning, about getting every advantage, about outthinking opponents because the Giants so often haven’t been able to out-talent foes, the bold, new-age move that paid off came from the opposing dugout.
The Giants had soared back into a crucial contest with the Rockies, Brandon Belt’s eighth-inning home run tying a game they had coughed up and eventually sending it to a 10th inning, when the Giants’ bullpen tandem of Tyler Rogers and Caleb Baragar held the Rockies scoreless.
It set the Giants up perfectly to win in the bottom of the frame. But Rockies ingenuity, employing a five-man infield that worked, kept the Giants off the scoreboard and San Francisco eventually fell in the 11th, 5-4, at Oracle Park. They coughed up a 3-0 lead and split the series, and falling back to .500, clawing at the No. 8 spot in the National League playoff picture for the moment but still awaiting the results of later games.
The Giants (28-28) could have made a leap away from the jumbled wild-card mess, but instead brought themselves into jeopardy of falling out of the spot with three days and four games to go. The Reds (29-28), who are idle, moved into seventh, while the Brewers (who own the tiebreaker) could tie San Francisco if they beat the Cardinals. The Phillies also were off Thursday.
The biggest missed chance for the Giants came in the 10th. With Dickerson on third and one out, Colorado intentionally walked Belt and Brandon Crawford before the five-man infield came into play. Evan Longoria lined a screamer that Trevor Story dove for, spun and threw home from his knees to catch Dickerson, and Mauricio Dubon’s pop-out moved the game to the 11th.
The Rockies’ go-ahead run was not exhilarating, two sacrifices off Trevor Cahill, the second of which coming on a long fly from Raimel Tapia, gave them the lead. In the bottom of the inning, Tyler Heineman moved Mauricio Dubon to third, but Austin Slater bounced into a devastating double play to finish it.
The Giants had mounted threats early but did not cash in enough, scoring three in the first two innings but leaving too many potential runs as just that.
They had second and third with no outs in the second, but Alex Dickerson, Wilmer Flores and Belt couldn’t produce. An inning prior, Flores was on third with one out and took off for home on an Evan Longoria grounder and was gunned down.
For the game, the Giants went 3-of-18 with runners in scoring position, which wasn’t enough. They made solid contact and finished with 10 hits, but couldn’t generate the big one or any runs after the second inning.
The fourth is when the Rockies started chipping away, finally getting to Kevin Gausman, who stranded runners on base all game. They scored a pair on a Ryan McMahon double and Josh Fuentes single, but Gausman was not to blame.
His 20 swinging strikes were his best since May 22, 2018. He got into plenty of trouble but kept striking his way out of it, cutting down nine in his six innings, in which those two runs were the only ones allowed.
He couldn’t go long enough, though, because of a 15-pitch, sixth-inning battle with McMahon that Gausman won on a ground out to, appropriately, Belt.
In the seventh, Sam Coonrod got into major trouble when Story followed a Kevin Pillar single with a ground-rule double. Charlie Blackmon’s ground out scored one to tie at 3. Josh Fuentes’ single pushed the Rockies ahead.