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Bubble bursts in third inning, Giants lose series to last-place Reds

© D. Ross Cameron | 2022 Jun 26

An inning that wouldn’t end undid the Giants and sent them to a series loss to the last-place Reds. 

The perfect confluence of inept fielding, lackluster pitching and misfortune allowed the Reds to pile on seven runs in the third inning. The disastrous third inning matched San Francisco’s worst of the year and cemented the most disheartening series loss of 2022. 

Anthony DeSclafani got chased from the game in the third and was charged with seven earned runs as the Giants (39-33) couldn’t find the elusive final out. The Reds scored seven of their 10 runs in the frame and out-hit SF 15 to five in a rout at Oracle Park. 

DeSclafani had started the game as sharply as he has all season. He retired six of the first seven batters he faced, all of whom grounded out. A heavy dosage of grounders is typically a positive indicator that DeSclafani’s sinker-slider combination is working. 

But then with two outs in the third inning, all systems suddenly failed for the starter. He hung sinkers up and over the plate. He lost command of his slider. Soft hits trickled through the infield and hard ones demoralized the Sunday afternoon Oracle Park crowd. DeSclafani’s defense didn’t pick him up, either. 

DeSclafani was one pitch away from getting out of the inning unscathed, but Brandon Drury launched an elevated sinker into Triples Alley to initiate Cincinnati’s two-out rally. A single from Tommy Pham — the antagonist’s first hit of the weekend — scored him. 

The real back-breaker came two runs and three batters later. Matt Reynolds lofted a pop fly to deep center field, a routine play for the typically sure-handed Austin Slater. But Slater’s first step was in, and the ball carried over his head for a ground-rule double. 

SF’s implosion also included a questionable fair-foul call down the first base line and a relay throw that went to second instead of home. Nothing went right for the Giants.

DeSclafani, whose ERA now stands at 9.95, only faced one more hitter after that. He’d thrown 23 pitches in the first two innings and 30 in the third alone. After seven earned runs, the ugly inning fittingly ended with a botched first-and-third play.

The seven-run inning matched the Giants’ season-high. The poor play rivaled the three-error inning on June 9 against Colorado. On a morale level, it doesn’t get much worse than the worst team in the league batting through the order in an inning. 

San Francisco never recovered from the third-inning onslaught. Mike Yastrzemsk snapped a 7-for-63 skid with a solo home run and the Giants tacked on two runs in the seventh, but Cincinnati’s lead was never in question. 

In the fifth, a throwing error from first baseman Brandon Belt allowed two more runs to cross. Nobody seemed particularly interested in corralling the ball in foul territory, which let the Reds take an extra base. In the ninth, Slater misplayed another fly ball.

The Reds, who have the worst record in the National League, entered the weekend series losers of seven straight. Then they held off the Giants, who had already lost four of five, in the series opener

A dispirited Alex Cobb reflected on the Giants’ skid after taking that loss from the clubhouse.

“I don’t think it matters who the opponent is right now,” Cobb said. “I think we, for the first time, slipped out of the wild card spot the other day. We see that. Every win is going to be valuable from here on out.” 

Losing two of three to Cincinnati sinks the Giants to 12-12 in June. Divisions aren’t won or lost in June, but with the Padres and Dodgers pacing the National League West, it’s possible only a wild card spot is realistic for SF. Fangraphs still considers the Giants, more likely than not, a playoff team. 

But racking up wins against lowly teams, like the Reds, is a necessity. It was one of the main ingredients in last year’s 107-win recipe. 

Every loss, particularly those of the embarrassing fashion like on Sunday, make every win even more valuable. A series loss to the Reds is just a reminder.

 

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