SAN FRANCISCO -- It wasn't one of those close, low-scoring games that the Giants have grown all too familiar with during the first two weeks of the season, but Wednesday afternoon's 7-3 loss to the D-backs seemed to follow the same script: effective starting pitching, but a lack of timely
SAN FRANCISCO -- It wasn't one of those close, low-scoring games that the Giants have grown all too familiar with during the first two weeks of the season, but Wednesday afternoon's 7-3 loss to the D-backs seemed to follow the same script: effective starting pitching, but a lack of timely hitting to back it up.
Making his MLB debut in front of his mother, grandmother, brothers and a crowd of 35,041, 25-year-old left-hander Andrew Suarez retired the first 10 hitters he faced, striking out five of them. He only allowed four hits in 5 1/3 innings and attacked the zone, striking out seven without issuing a walk.
"I'm just glad I threw plenty of strikes," Suarez said. "I didn't walk anyone. I felt good."
Unfortunately for the left-hander, the few mistakes he made were hit a long way. Paul Goldschmidt drilled a hanging slider 436 feet in the fourth inning for a two-run homer, and John Ryan Murphy took another hanging slider 402 feet to left field in the fifth. Suarez was charged with four earned runs in his debut.
"It was supposed to be low and in, but I just opened up a little bit and it was pretty much just a hanging spinner," Suarez said about his pitch to Goldschmidt. "Sometimes I try to throw it too hard, and I end up opening up instead of staying closed and letting it out in front."
The Giants' offense, which entered the game second-to-last in MLB with a .160 average (12-for-74) with runners in scoring position, had its chances to spot Suarez an early lead but was unable to capitalize against Arizona starter Robbie Ray.
San Francisco put runners on first and third with two outs in the third inning before Joe Panik struck out to end the rally. In the fourth, the Giants had runners on second and third with one out before Ray rallied with two strikeouts to emerge unscathed.
"The starting pitchers are doing a good job," third baseman Evan Longoria said. "Offensively, we haven't done much to help them. They've been having to really grind to keep us in games, and I think offensively, we've got to do more. We've got to find a way to jump out ahead early and take some of the pressure off of the pitchers."
The offense finally broke through in the fifth with a RBI fielder's choice by Andrew McCutchen and a two-run homer by Buster Posey, who was the only Giant to finish with multiple hits and extended his hitting streak to nine games. But that was all the offense could muster, as the D-backs' bullpen only allowed two baserunners in 4 1/3 scoreless innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Clutch K's from Ray: After Goldschmidt's two-run homer in the top of the fourth broke a scoreless tie, the Giants threatened to answer in the bottom of the inning when they put runners on second and third with one out with a single from Posey and a double by Longoria. But Ray escaped the jam with a three-pitch strikeout of Nick Hundley and an inning-ending strikeout of Brandon Crawford after he intentionally walked Hunter Pence to load the bases.
"Buster had a big hit to really tie that game and get us going, and Longoria, he hit a nice double down the line," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It looks like [the hitters are] starting to come around and show some life. It's a matter of time. These guys are too good. But I do like what's been happening in the last two, three days."
Buster breaks through: The Giants had entered Wednesday's series finale hitting .160 (12-for-75) with runners in scoring position, the second-lowest mark in the Majors. That trend continued on Wednesday, as the Giants started 0-for-4 in such scoring opportunities against Ray. But in the fifth, following an RBI fielder's choice by McCutchen, Posey ended Ray's outing with a game-tying two-run homer to left-center. Entering Wednesday, Posey had been 3-for-19 in his career against Ray.
"They threw a ton of breaking balls, and I thought we adjusted there that inning and took advantage of it," Bochy said.
"A lot of people say my weakness is I throw too many strikes. You can see it there. I just always try to compete, and I've just got to learn when to throw balls and when not to." -- Suarez, on giving opponents too many pitches to hit in the strike zone
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
According to STATS LLC, Tuesday and Wednesday marked only the second time in the San Francisco era in which the Giants started pitchers making their Major League debuts on back-to-back days. Tyler Beede and Suarez join Bob Knepper and Frank Riccelli, who accomplished the feat Sept. 10-11, 1976, against the Reds.
JACKSON DEPARTS GAME WITH TIGHT GROIN
Giants center fielder Austin Jackson was removed from the game in the seventh inning due to tightness in his groin. He had been 1-for-2 with a walk and a run. He was replaced by Gregor Blanco for the final three innings. According to Bochy, the move was precautionary, and he doesn't believe it to be a cause for significant concern moving forward.
"He'll be fine, hopefully, tomorrow," Bochy said. "But it tightened up on him, and we didn't want to risk an injury."
The Giants kick off a 10-game, three-city road trip on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. PT, when right-hander Chris Stratton opposes San Diego righty Bryan Mitchell in the opener of a four-game series at Petco Park. Stratton is 1-1 with a 6.43 ERA in two career appearances against the Padres.
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Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com.