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Uninspired loss to White Sox extends Giants’ skid

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The Giants lost another game, and they lost it in the fashion that’s become familiar.  

A lack of hitting with runners in scoring position and insufficient fielding extended the Giants’ tailspin with another defeat. With San Francisco’s 5-3 loss to the White Sox, the Giants have dropped seven of their past nine contests. SF is 2-5 on its current home stand, all against teams with losing records. 

Two errors, plus a head-scratching misjudgement in left field, cost the Giants runs. Going 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position didn’t help, either. Just three weeks after pulling within three games of first place by sweeping the Dodgers, the Giants (40-36) are fighting to stay above .500. 

Even after LaMonte Wade Jr.’s leadoff home run off Dylan Cease — on the outfielder’s bobblehead day — the Giants squandered a prime scoring chance in the first inning. With the bases loaded and two outs for the second day in a row, designated hitter Tommy La Stella stepped in and ended the inning. 

Webb preserved the 1-0 lead by retiring the first nine White Sox he faced, needing only 32 pitches to do so. His slider was a particularly dangerous weapon; Webb threw 14 and generated seven called strikes or whiffs on them through the first three innings. 

Then came the sequence that crystallized the Giants’ struggles this year. 

Three Chicago balls in play traveled four, one and three feet — with exit velocities of 70.3, 85.6 and 42 mph. Those, plus a walk, somehow loaded the bases. 

Tim Anderson legged out a swinging bunt for an infield single. Brandon Belt couldn’t range far enough to corral a grounder between first and second. A fielder’s choice moved two runners into scoring position. All while Webb didn’t give up any solid contact. 

The kicker came when Joc Pederson misjudged a line drive over his head. His first step was in, and that fundamental miscue allowed two White Sox to cross home and extend the inning further.

Everything you need to know about the Giants at their worst this year could be gleaned from that half-inning. Poor defense sinks quality pitching. Mental and physical mistakes compound. The roster balance between offensive production and defensive liability tilts too far the wrong way, spawning ugly baseball. 

SF’s fielding pitfalls came at an inopportune time — with a 1-0 lead, as Webb was dealing and during teamwide funk.

On the uninspired scale, the fourth inning wasn’t quite on the same level as San Francisco’s three-error abomination against Colorado or its seven-run implosion earlier this home stand against the last-place Reds. 

And it wasn’t just the defense that let Webb down. In the sixth, a single, double and hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for Chicago. Then another error — this one an errant throw from Donovan Walton trying to turn an ambitious double play — allowed an extra run to score. 

The Giants added two more errors to their already 29th-ranked defense, per outs above average. They left 11 on base when one of Gabe Kapler’s most consistent gripes is not getting the “big hit” that incites a crooked inning. Wade’s leadoff homer preceded six straight zeroes. 

Just the night before Saturday’s loss, the big mistake that cost SF was Camilo Doval’s late break to first base in the ninth inning. And in that game, San Francisco tallied just three hits and blew an early bases loaded situation. 

Now San Francisco has gone 2-7 over its past nine games. The two victories came with either Webb or Carlos Rodón starting. Not even Webb could straighten the skid. 

During the current spiral, SF’s performance has been uneven. In the opener, starter Alex Cobb and the bullpen threw eight shutout innings, but the offense mustered only three hits and no runs. Other times, like Saturday, the defense has tripped over itself. Sometimes the bats provide enough juice, but the pitching can’t hold up its end of the bargain. 

“It’ll start clicking,” Cobb said after his July 1 start. “It will. The guys in this locker room are too good for it not to. You’ve got to stay afloat until that moment happens.” 

The Giants aren’t quite yet drowning, but they’re hardly treading water. As the Aug. 2 trade deadline nears, they’ll need to find a way to untie the cinder blocks from their ankles.

 

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