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Giants can’t chase down Haase homer in loss

© Sergio Estrada | 2022 Jun 29

There was no way Gabe Kapler could have gotten more than a few words out during his sixth-inning mound visit to Alex Wood. Kapler walked out from the dugout, tapped his foot on the mound’s dirt and quickly retreated. 

The purpose of the visit was probably just to make sure Wood, at 91 pitches, felt fresh enough to face one batter. There were two outs and a man on third base in a 1-1 ballgame. Tyler Rogers was ready in the bullpen, but the Giants trusted Wood to hand the submariner a clean seventh inning. 

Wood had earned the ball. He’d retired nine straight Tigers at one point. He struck out the side in the second inning with 11 pitches. He’d worked quickly and thrown 70% of his pitches for strikes. 

But the one batter Wood was entrusted to send packing soured his previously impressive outing. Detroit catcher Eric Haase put an 0-1 slider over Joc Pederson’s outstretched glove along the left field wall, sending the Tigers to a 3-1 lead and Kapler back out to lift his starter. 

Wood faced one too many Tigers, but the Giants’ offense had plenty of chances to erase Detroit’s 3-1 lead. Instead, the Giants (40-34) left nine on base in a 3-2 loss. The two-game series split bookends two months of .500 Giants baseball.

SF took the lead first. Its first run came even as Rony García’s 93-mph fastball couldn’t have been placed any better — on the low, outside corner. But Evan Longoria, who’s piping hot at the plate, socked the ball over the Levi’s Landing sign for a solo home run. 

Great hitting can beat great pitching. It was Longoria’s third home run in the past five games. Earlier this year, he hit five in the span of five contests. Those two hot streaks account for all of Longoria’s eight homers on the season and have boosted his OPS to .847.

Wood, after allowing a leadoff double to Robbie Grossman to start the game, retired nine straight Tigers. Six of those nine hitters struck out, as Wood had his most electric stuff of the year. 

But the Tigers equalized Longoria’s run in the fourth when Javier Báez scooted into third with a triple. LaMonte Wade Jr., in his first game back from a knee injury that sidelined him for 36 games, misplayed Báez’s ball in right field but wasn’t charged with an error. Báez jogged into home on a Miguel Cabrera sacrifice fly. 

Still, Wood came a single out away from a quality start one turn after his shortest outing of his career — when lasted just one frame in Atlanta. 

Only that out was supposed to be Haase, not Detroit’s go-ahead home run. Wood ended up allowing three runs in 5.2 innings, striking out six while walking none. 

The Giants halved Detroit’s lead in the seventh, but needed to send Wilmer Flores and Darin Ruf in as pinch hitters to do so. San Francisco still stranded the bases loaded even after emptying the strategic chamber. 

Detroit knew that seventh inning was probably the Giants’ best chance, and acted accordingly. Manager A.J. Hinch inserted Michael Fulmer, their most reliable non-closer, to face Longoria; Fulmer walked the third baseman, then struck out Austin Slater to end the inning. 

Trailing 3-2 in the eighth, the Giants couldn’t drive home Tommy La Stella from second. In the ninth, Ruf went down looking, Wade’s clutch gene didn’t present itself, and Mike Yastrzemski popped up. 

SF couldn’t come back. The Giants went 13-14 in May, their first sub-.500 season since 2020 (they won at least 60% of their games every month in 2021). San Francisco followed up May by going 13-13 in June — capped by a series loss to the last-place Reds and a two-game split against Detroit.

 

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