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Giants waste Gausman brilliance in tough 11-inning loss to Pirates


Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


Most of the hits were not particularly well struck, but they amounted to a gut-punch to the Giants anyway.

A series of well-placed singles in the ninth inning, followed by a big 11th inning by the Pirates against Caleb Baragar, turned into a tough 3-2 loss on Friday night, the Giants dropping their first game in four and wasting another Kevin Gausman gem.

The Giants (23-15) are still in fine shape, two and 2.5 games up on the Padres and Dodgers, respectively, before each NL West rival began play. But if they have struggled, it has come on the road, and the Giants failed to take the second game against the lousy Pirates.

Gausman was brilliant all night and then watched Adam Frazier and Kevin Newman bloop their way on base to begin the ninth. Gabe Kapler pulled him after eight-plus scoreless innings at 96 pitches, and Jake McGee allowed a soft, tying single to former Giant Bryan Reynolds to tie it. McGee bounced back, and Tyler Rogers was excellent before the Pirates won it in the 11th.

Adam Frazier tripled off Baragar to begin the inning, Mike Yastrzemski making a valiant and probably painful effort at the wall in right, to tie it. After Kevin Newman popped up, Kapler chose to walk the bases loaded for Gregory Polanco. Polanco hit a sac fly into center that scored Frazier for the winning run. The Giants tried to check whether Polanco passing the runner at first could be of use to them, but it was not.

It was the first earned run charged to Baragar in 31 outings, and it was poorly timed.

The Giants had a chance in the 10th, but Brandon Belt struck out, and Evan Longoria scorched one 107 mph that Erik Gonzalez made a nifty play on. Brandon Crawford drilled one to left, but it died on the warning track.

Forgotten was a Crawford home run that stirred a lot of memories. The bases were empty, but otherwise his eighth-inning dinger looked pretty similar to the grand slam he deposited into the same section at PNC Park during the 2014 wild-card game. Facing righty Duane Underwood Jr., Crawford worked a 3-1 count then got a down-the-middle changeup, which he slugged for his eighth home run of the season.

If it seems like each Crawford blast matters, the stats back that up. Seven of Crawford’s long balls have given the Giants a lead or tied the game this year, with five go-ahead and two that tied the game.

Many of his teammates have slumped this month — Evan Longoria and Wilmer Flores come to mind, and the club managed just four hits Friday — but Crawford continues to come up big when needed.

Ditto for Gausman, who deserved better and struck out a career-best 12 while allowing five hits in eight-plus innings.

He did not allow a baserunner until the fourth inning and didn’t allow a runner on second until the fifth. But when runners are in scoring position, Gausman is at his best.

Gregory Polanco’s softly hit bounder just eluded Evan Longoria, who was the only Giant on that side of the infielder, and Brandon Crawford chased it into the outfield as Polanco wound up on second. So Gausman used a splitter to strike out Ka’ai Tom, a fastball to sit down Wilmer Difo, and a splitter to punch out Michael Perez.

An inning later, it was Adam Frazier who doubled, though this one a more legitimate shot off the right-field wall. But he got Kevin Newman to fly out and struck out Bryan Reynolds.

With runners on scoring position this year, opponents are 1-for-27 (.037) with 13 strikeouts against Gausman. He can reach back and hit the upper 90s when he needs, his hardest pitch recorded at 96.8 mph, and his splitter is the best in baseball.

But in the most important moment, it was McGee and Baragar who gave up an RBI single and sac fly. And the Giants’ bats have not been as clutch as Gausman’s arm.

 

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