The day after the Giants powered their way to a win with the home-run stroke, St. Louis took a page out of San Francisco’s playbook and did the same against starter Anthony DeSclafani.
DeSclafani surrendered two costly home runs in the Giants’ 3-1 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday at Busch Stadium. The lack of run support was amplified as the offense went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and didn’t record an extra-base hit.
DeSclafani allowed 11 homers in 18 starts in the first half of the season, but his control faltered against the Cardinals. The right-hander was tagged for the loss in his 11th quality start of the season, as he went six innings and allowed three earned runs on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks.
DeSclafani was outdueled by Cardinals left-hander Kwang Hyun Kim, who also beat the Giants 5-3 on July 5, limiting them to three hits.
“He kicked our [butt] for the second time and it's frustrating because we weren't able to score runs for DeSclafani, who I thought was excellent,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “The home runs to Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler O'Neill kind of being the two blemishes, it's going to happen. He's not going to be perfect every time out, but we have to find ways to step up and support him when he pitches that good.”
O’Neill homered off DeSclafani in the second to start the scoring and force a 22-pitch inning. But DeSclafani bounced back to hold the Cardinals scoreless over the next three frames. He needed 30 pitches to face the next 10 batters and retired seven in order.
The sixth inning marked trouble after Dylan Carson led off with a double. It brought Goldschmidt to the plate, who has a .519 career batting average against DeSclafani. Goldschmidt slammed a two-run homer to right-center field on a 94 mph sinker to give St. Louis a 3-0 lead.
"He's a great hitter, so you can't make mistakes. It's as simple as that,” DeSclafani said of his history against Goldschmidt. “Make mistakes and a good hitter is going to do some big damage. He's being paid a lot for a reason.”
The lone run the Giants scored against the Cardinals was against the bullpen when Wilmer Flores led off with a walk, moved to second on a passed ball and scored on Steven Duggar's single, which O’Neill bobbled for a fielding error.
“He gives us a great outing every time he steps on the mound. You give a lot of credit tonight to [DeSclafani] and the 'pen for keeping us in the game right there,” Dugger said. “We still had a chance to not only tie the game up, but maybe go ahead there in the night and that's all you can really ask for as an offense.”
San Francisco is 9-12 in games in which it doesn't hit a home run and 49-21 when recording at least one. The club has shown it is reliant on the long ball, having scored more than 50 percent of its runs via homers.
“It is possible to become too reliant on the home run, but I don't think that's who we are as a team at all,” Kapler said. “I think that we find multiple ways to get on base and we drive balls in the gaps, as well.
“I think we score in a number of different ways. I do think that the home run is one way that we score and it's no secret, and I think that's a really good thing. Just to be able to change the score with one swing of the bat, particularly if there's nobody on base.”