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Giants drop doubleheader opener to Rockies



© Ron Chenoy | 2023 Sep 16

The Giants followed up their nearly hitless night in Denver with an offensive output that couldn’t keep pace. 

San Francisco mustered seven hits, two of which went for extra bases. Thairo Estrada went 4-for-5 and LaMonte Wade Jr. cranked his 15th home run, but the rest of the order struggled. Joc Pederson, Wilmer Flores and Mike Yastrzesmki, veterans responsible for guiding the club to the postseason, combined to go 0-for-11 with four strikeouts. 

Their three pitches — Keaton Winn, Ryan Walker and Ross Stripling — each gave up a trio of earned runs. Going 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position didn’t come close to making up for them.

When every day begins with a check-in on playoff odds, the Giants can’t afford to lose games like these. A 9-5 defeat to the last place Rockies will only hurt the Giants (75-73) in their pursuit of the third and final wild card position. 

The Giants got no-hit for eight innings on Friday night, and only had slightly more success in Coors Field. Part of that came with a healthy pinch of luck. 

By taking two walks and a hit-by-pitch San Francisco loaded the bases with two outs. Then Blake Sabol squibbed a double down the third-base line, putting new meaning in the “hit it where they ain’t” idiom. His hit had an exit velocity of just 53.1 mph and carried an expected batting average of only .150. But no Rockie occupied the spot where Sabol’s hit dropped, scoring two runs. 

Austin Wynns, the former Giants catcher, had a tough afternoon behind the plate. He let an inside pitch graze off his glove in the third inning, allowing Thairo Estrada to scamper home unimpeded. He’d already advanced to third on a separate wild pitch.  

That put the Giants up 3-0 on just three hits. The third inning featured a walk, Estrada’s infield single and two passed balls. 

Winn didn’t give up a hit until the third inning, when the Rockies caused serious trouble. Winn needed 29 pitches to get through the frame, and Ezequiel Tovar scorched a bases-clearing triple to deep center field. Luis Matos, who made two slick catches later in the game, waved at the line drive as it sailed over his head by the wall. 

Winn lasted four innings, battling that long inning and a taxing pitch count. He didn’t replicate his last start against Colorado, but was still effective, showcasing his high-90s fastball and splitter. 

Ryan Walker, who has been one of the National League’s most effective relievers this year, replaced Winn. The rookie had a rare blip, though, walking three and allowing two singles into shallow center field. By the time Ross Stripling entered his first game in over a month, the Giants had fallen behind 5-3. 

Stripling lost his 42-inning walkless streak as he walked in Colorado’s sixth run. For someone who was the 29th man on a 28-player team for the first half of September, it was a difficult situation to be reintroduced to. 

Wynns later cracked a two-out, two-RBI single up the middle off Stripling to push Colorado’s lead to 9-3. 

The pitching, though, as has been the case for most of the second half, wasn’t the real issue. In both the fifth and seventh, the Giants put the first two runners of the inning on base but didn’t hit anyone home, instead grounding into double plays. 

Typically, the Colorado altitude helps elevate struggling lineups. The Giants showed glimpses of offensive improvements during their home stand last week and are now fully healthy with Michael Conforto back. 

The power-deficient Giants finally hit a home run when LaMonte Wade Jr. drilled a solo shot in the eighth. It only cut SF’s deficit to five. 

They’re no longer relying on a plethora of rookies to contribute, leaving a September surge on the shoulders of their veterans. They need to deliver much more than Saturday morning.