There are explanations, and they begin with the pitchers the Giants were struggling against Monday.
“I think it was more about the execution from [Wade] Miley and particularly with the cutter down and in to righties,” Gabe Kapler said of Cincinnati’s starter, who went five strong, two-hit innings.
He called firballer Tejay Antone “dominant,” too, and the Giants mustered two fewer hits against the righty.
Which is to say, they had two hits in total in a 3-0 shutout at the Reds’ hands on a quiet, cold night at Oracle Park, a night on which the bats again went silent.
They have scored 18 runs in their past eight games, and through a miracle (or perhaps quality pitching) they are at 6-4.
There have been flashes of the deep and gritty lefty lineup that the Giants hope to have, with Tommy La Stella wearing down the Rockies on Saturday, and Brandon Belt and Alex Dickerson homering over the weekend. And there have been flashes of the powerful righty lineup they think they have, with Evan Longoria starting hot and Darin Ruf swatting a couple homers, while Austin Slater and Wilmer Flores have yet to get going.
But the one thing they thought they could rely upon this season — their bats — has started unreliably.
“Overall, we’ve gotten some big hits, but I don’t think this is the type of offense that we are,” Kapler said after the loss to Cincinnati snapped a four-game win streak. “I think we’re the type of offense that sees a lot of pitches, that gets pitchers on the ropes and gets big hits and produces big innings. We haven’t seen that consistently from our offense this year, but I believe that that’s in there with this group.”
Their .284 on-base percentage is the fourth-worst in baseball, which should turn but is eye-opening on a Farhan Zaidi-constructed team. More encouraging is a .222 BABIP, which is the second most unlucky in MLB. Essentially, it suggests that the balls they hit will begin to find holes eventually.
The Giants slugged seven balls at least 95 mph on Monday, and only a Donovan Solano 104.9-mph single went for a hit. Evan Longoria hit a couple of towering drives that went a combined 751 feet, but both were caught just before the wall. Mauricio Dubon continues to smoke balls but reached on an error in his 103.3-mph smash to shortstop.
There is plenty of time for the Giants to turn it around, but their constant has not been their constant early in the season.
Aaron Sanchez went five strong innings, and while the Reds made better contact as his night wore on, his only big mistake was a two-run shot to Jesse Winker. He didn’t think it was a homer off the bat, but he regretted the 3-1 count that preceded the blast.
“When I got ahead, I was dominant. When I fell behind, that’s when I got in trouble,” Sanchez said after his 66 pitches, pulled for a pinch-hitter with Kapler searching for power. “For me it’s more or less just staying ahead, and the outcomes are on my side.”
LaMonte Wade Jr. was dealt to San Francisco from Minnesota, where he knew the late Twins bench coach, Mike Bell.
Bell died last month of kidney cancer. Wade met his brother, David Bell, the manager of the Reds, during the lineup exchange and gave him a hug.
“We thought he could share some thoughts with David,” Kapler said over Zoom. “He did. I think David was appreciative, and we both expressed condolences.”
“It was incredible,” Bell told Cincinnati reporters. “I was blown away.”