It wasn’t that the Giants couldn’t hit the ball on Thursday. They just failed to convert scoring opportunities in egregious fashion after Alex Wood put in perhaps the worst start of his career.
It was a frustrating, 7-6 loss to conclude an enthralling series.
Let’s start with how bad Wood was, because… woof. He began by allowing a leadoff home run to Dansby Swanson before securing his only three outs of the day.
In the second, Wood splintered, looking exasperated with the state of the pitching mound as the Braves drubbed him to the tune of five earned runs.
A walk-single-walk-single-HBP-single start to the second ended Wood’s day with a bases-loaded, no-out situation for Zack Littell.
That one-inning start from Wood was the second-shortest start of his career behind an outing on July 9, 2015 at Colorado (with Atlanta) when he left the game after two pitches due to injury.
For his part, Littell was excellent, allowing just a sacrifice fly and putting the damper on a chance for the Braves to blow a wider hole in the Giants’ leaky ship.
He went three innings, striking out three and allowing three hits. Only one of those, another solo shot from Swanson — his second of the game and third in the last two games — dented him and provided the Braves’ seventh run of the day, which it turned out they needed.
Now, the Giants had opportunities to recover. That was in large part thanks to the combined bullpen effort of Littell and the tag team of Jarlín Garcia and Sammy Long, both of whom put in two shutout innings.
But it was a day typified by the fact that they hit into double plays in each of the first four innings.
A bases-loaded, one-out situation in the first ended in that fashion, fruitless.
Curt Casali’s two-out, RBI single tallied a run after an Austin Slater double play in the second, for what would be the Giants’ only run in the first five innings.
It wasn’t just that they wasted baserunners, leaving eight stranded on the day, but it was the gut-punching manner in which they did it that was especially glaring.
They started their climb back into things with an Austin Slater poke to right field that seemed to take everyone in the ballpark by surprise. It was a 99-MPH liner with the perfect angle and height to sneak out over the right-field fence in the corner and provide the second Giants run of the game.
It was a chip-chip-chip approach, as that 7-2 deficit became a 7-4 deficit in the fifth, then a 7-5 deficit in the eighth.
But even those innings had wasted opportunities.
In the two-run fifth, Thairo Estrada grounded out in a bases-loaded, no-out situation, scoring one, but leaving runners at first and second.
A batter later, Tommy La Stella hit a ground-rule double that would have scored Estrada if it had not jumped over the fence.
A pair of strikeouts from Slater and Yastrzemski (with a base-loading walk from Brandon Belt in between) ensured the inning ended with three stranded.
In the eighth, Slater came up with a runner on first and second with one out and nearly repeated the get-out-quick, opposite-field homer of three innings prior.
Instead, it was a very long single off the wall, as Evan Longoria froze at second initially, holding Thairo Estrada at first. Longoria moseyed on home, but Estrada only made it to second.
Once again, the Giants stranded runners, via an Austin Wynns strikeout and a Yastrzemski flyout. Yastrzemski went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts on the day and will only take solace in the fact that he didn’t upgrade that gold sombrero to platinum.
They received a massive, 426-blast from Joc Pederson with two outs in the ninth, but as was the case, seemingly, for this entire game, it wasn’t enough.
It’s a series that felt a whole lot like this simultaneously impressive and Three Stooges-esque catch from Pederson. There was cause for excitement with a bit more head-scratching to follow.
San Francisco out-hit Atlanta 14 to 10 in this game, and was out-scored by just one run in the 3-1 series loss. They will not take much solace in any of that — or the fact that they were facing a red-hot Braves team — and likely malign the bevy of wasted chances.