After eight innings of smooth sailing, Giants sunk by Pirates

May 22nd, 2024

PITTSBURGH -- Everything went great for the Giants through eight innings on Tuesday night. They got a quality start from . The offense backed him with six runs, including home runs from and . The defense looked crisp.

In the ninth, it all went awry, as the Pirates came back from four runs down to tie the game before walking off the Giants, 7-6 in 10 innings at PNC Park.

It’s easy to look at a ninth-inning implosion and point to one or two pitchers. On Tuesday, that included Giants closer , who blew his first save of the season. But this game was lost not by one or two bad pitches but a collection of tiny issues and “what ifs?” that continued to accumulate.

The offense kept up its strong run-scoring pace with six. But when he looked back on what led to the frustrating loss, manager Bob Melvin pointed to the 1-for-12 performance with runners in scoring position as a main culprit.

“We had plenty of opportunities to widen the lead earlier in the game,” Melvin said. “But a lot of times, it winds up being in close games like that late.”

Webb pitched a gem despite inducing a lot of loud contact, holding the Pirates to two runs over six innings and giving the Giants a four-run lead any manager would cherish. But the second run he allowed was due in part to the fact that he didn’t get over to cover first base in time to get Andrew McCutchen for what would have been the second out of the inning, before Bryan Reynolds’ RBI fielder’s choice. Webb said he watched the ball, which had a funky spin, a little too long.

“I’ve got to get over. If I saved the run for us today, maybe that’s the difference in the game,” Webb said. “So I’ve got to do a better job of that.”

Luke Jackson and Doval each faltered a bit with the lead in hand. Jackson got a quick one-pitch out in the ninth before walking Jack Suwinski on five pitches, then allowing a double to Yasmani Grandal. With Doval rested and warming, Melvin was quick to go to his flamethrowing reliever.

It wasn’t Doval’s night, though.

“We bring in Doval for the save, it’s 6-2 with two guys on. You feel pretty good about winning the game,” Melvin said. “They just -- he walked a guy and they got two hits off him, which rarely happens.”

The most crushing at-bat of Doval’s taxing two-thirds of an inning was not a walk or a hit, but an error by shortstop Marco Luciano. The Giants’ No. 1 prospect began the game with some great defense, including a string of three outs made across the fourth and fifth innings on hard-hit balls.

However, with a chance to turn a game-ending double play on a sharp but manageable chopper from McCutchen, the ball knocked off Luciano’s glove and trickled away just enough to prevent him from relaying it to second base for at least one out.

“I did not put my glove in the right way,” Luciano said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “I was undecided on how I wanted to field the ball, and obviously, those are things that happen during a game, but you don’t want to make errors.”

Because the Giants couldn’t get one out there, Reynolds’ fielder’s choice in the next at-bat produced a run. Then Oneil Cruz did what he did all night, ripping the hardest hit of the season in MLB at 121.5 mph to right field for a game-tying double.

“He did his job,” Luciano said about Doval. “I felt bad for him. He felt bad for me. Again, I want to help at least get a forceout, but those are things that happen in a game.”

The message in the Giants clubhouse after a loss like that: Turn the page. The team entered the series opener with a four-game win streak. They will get Blake Snell back from the IL on Wednesday to boost the rotation. Despite the RISP trouble on Tuesday, the offense appears to be in a solid place.

And for a young player like Luciano, even he knows games like these are just one you have to shake off and learn from.

“Just because I made one [bad] play, I’m not going to put my head down,” Luciano said. “It just happens. I’ll be back here tomorrow and I’ll make up for it.”