For a second night in a row, the Giants were walked off by the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park in an 8-6 loss Saturday night, after they commanded the lead for most of the game.
Closer Jake McGee entered in the ninth, looking to send his team into extra innings with the game still tied at 6-6. Adam Frazier had other intentions when he opened the inning with a line-drive single to left for Pittsburgh.
Bryan Reynolds’ double down the left-field line two at-bats later seemed to be the game-winning hit as Frazier kicked into gear, rounding third base as the ball rolled around the corner of the wall. Mike Tauchman, however, threw the ball to a perfectly-placed Brandon Crawford in the outfield grass, who in turn fired it to catcher Curt Casali to tag Frazier out at the plate.
The adrenaline from the play didn’t faze McGee. He was ready to face Jacob Stallings, Pittsburgh’s cleanup hitter, with two outs, even though Stallings was 2-for-4 on the night. The southpaw was two strikes away from getting out of the inning when Stallings turned on a 95 mph fastball down the middle and sent Pirates fans home with a game-winning two-run homer instead.
“I was trying to throw it a little too hard, I feel like, and just trying to make sure I got it up and away. I think I just pulled it and threw it a little too hard,” McGee said of his pitch to Stallings that resulted in the walk-off win. “I felt like that was my only mistake tonight.”
McGee pitched in Friday’s extra-innings loss as well, when he entered the game in the ninth with runners on the corners and no outs. McGee sent the Giants into extras after he struck out three consecutive hitters on 12 pitches as his fastball topped out at 96.3 mph, according to Statcast.
“I think we continue to search for ways to have [McGee] come out there and have the best life on his fastball -- it's his pitch. He knows we all know that executing it up in the zone is the best recipe for success,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He's also running into a couple of very hot hitters. Got to give a little credit right now to Frazier, who's been really difficult for us to get out,”
San Francisco was in control for most of the night as the Giants scored six runs in the first six innings, but couldn’t keep up when Pittsburgh scored four in the seventh and two in the ninth. Homers from Darin Ruf, Crawford and Tauchman were big hits early in the game for the Giants.
Pittsburgh chipped away at San Francisco’s four-run lead in the seventh by scoring four runs off Giants relievers Sam Selman and Camilo Doval, who combined for a total of nine batters faced as the Pirates tied the game.
The Giants manufactured a run-scoring opportunity in the eighth with two outs when pinch-hitter LeMonte Wade hit a sizzling grounder into right field that skipped by the shortstop and second baseman. It kept the line moving for Austin Slater to work a six-pitch walk in the next at-bat to put runners on first and second for Ruf, who had a homer and double in the game.
Ruf, however, ended the inning by swinging through a 93 mph fastball over the middle of the plate for his second strikeout of the night.
The ninth inning played out nearly the same way as the eighth did. San Francisco found itself in another run-scoring opportunity with two outs when Brandon Crawford recorded his second hit of the night, a single to right. Mauricio Dubón popped up to end the Giants’ final chance to take the lead.
“We've endured two tough losses in a row -- an extra-innings game last night and tonight's tough loss. One thing I know about these players is they're tough, they're resilient, and they're good teammates to one another,” Kapler said. “Brandon Crawford just recently said, ‘We just don't let these things spiral on us, we're going to come back tomorrow and be prepared to play a game … We have our work cut out for us, and we're just not going to let tonight's loss spill into tomorrow.’”