'The ninth inning told the tale': Giants can't cash in

April 10th, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants’ City Connect uniforms have been a fairly reliable slumpbuster over the last few years, but they were unavailable to work their magic on Tuesday night at Oracle Park.

The creamsicle jerseys – which have yielded a 26-10 record since they were introduced in 2021 – aren’t expected to arrive until May 14 due to manufacturing delays, leaving the Giants to try to get back on track in their usual home creams.

It still didn’t end up being a good look for the Giants, who continued to sputter offensively in a 5-3 loss that sealed a series defeat to the Nationals.

The Giants loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth. They came away empty-handed after Michael Conforto bounced a comebacker, resulting in a forceout at the plate and Matt Chapman grounded into a game-ending double play.

San Francisco left 11 men on base, leaving the club only 2-for-33 (.061) with runners in scoring position over the first five games of this homestand.

“That’s been a theme for us, unfortunately,” manager Bob Melvin said. “If we keep getting them on, we’ll score them, but it’s getting a little frustrating.”

The Giants have now plated fewer than five runs in nine straight games, averaging only 2.78 runs per game. They’ve gone five consecutive games without homering, their longest power drought since Sept.10-16, 2018.

“Our offense hasn’t been clicking,” shortstop Nick Ahmed said. “We’ve had guys that have taken good at-bats, but overall, we’re not doing our job well enough to get enough wins. We’ve got to turn it around.”

The underlying metrics suggest the Giants might be due to break out soon -- they entered Tuesday leading the Majors in hard-hit rate (44.7%) and ranked third in average exit velocity (90.1 mph) -- but those numbers have been of little consolation to Melvin.

“It’s a results-oriented business,” Melvin said. “You can hit them hard all you want. You’ve got to hit ‘em where they ain’t. We haven’t done that too terribly well at this point.”

The Giants squandered a quality start from left-hander Kyle Harrison, who racked up a season-high eight strikeouts while giving up three runs over six innings. Harrison walked none and allowed five hits, including a two-run blast to CJ Abrams in the third.

Harrison retired the first eight batters he faced – six via strikeout – but he surrendered a two-out single to No. 9 hitter Jacob Young in the third and then misplaced a 2-2 fastball to Abrams, who hammered it 423 feet out to right-center field to put the Nationals ahead, 2-1.

“I thought it was a well enough pitch for me, but good swing, to say the least,” Harrison said. “That one definitely hurt.”

The Giants entered the bottom of the sixth trailing, 3-1, but they tied the game after Ahmed knocked in a pair of runs with a two-out single to right field. Only one of those runs ended up being earned, as the Giants caught a lucky break when Lane Thomas’ poor throw to the plate deflected off catcher Riley Adams’ glove and rolled into the Giants’ dugout, allowing the trail runner, Patrick Bailey, to score on the error

The game didn’t stay tied for long. The Nationals regained the lead on Trey Lipscomb’s sacrifice fly off Ryan Walker the following inning and then added an insurance run on Adams’ RBI double in the ninth. It was enough to pull away for good, as the Giants couldn’t conjure any more big hits after the sixth.

“I thought we were going to win the game at that point,” Melvin said. “There was a lot of momentum for us. We’ve been playing pretty well in tight games. The next inning, I don’t want to say it’s deflating – we should be able to come back from one run – but the ninth inning told the tale.”