ST. LOUIS -- The Giants' final road trip of an underwhelming 2018 concluded without contest. Few clubs have figured out how to combat Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas, and San Francisco was no different, getting swept following a 9-2 loss at Busch Stadium on Sunday afternoon.Mikolas was in control from the
ST. LOUIS -- The Giants' final road trip of an underwhelming 2018 concluded without contest. Few clubs have figured out how to combat Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas, and San Francisco was no different, getting swept following a 9-2 loss at Busch Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Mikolas was in control from the first pitch. Catcher Nick Hundley's double in the fifth inning was the first of four total hits for the Giants, the most notable being a two-run home run by shortstop Brandon Crawford in the seventh. The Cardinals, who moved closer to clinching a Wild Card spot, dispersed 12 hits and efficiently turned them into runs.
"[Mikolas] has had a big year for them and today he threw the ball well. As you saw, we really had a tough time with him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He had good stuff. He had velocity and the ball has some good cut to it."
The lack of scoring isn't apart from the norm of Giants games this season, but a newer problem surfaced for the defense when first baseman Brandon Belt underwent season-ending surgery Friday. The Giants, without their premier guy on the right side of the infield, were forced to experiment and shuffle players to spots they'd never played before.
Second baseman Joe Panik played first base Saturday after serving the Giants at second for all of his 532 career games prior. Rookie catcher Aramis Garcia got the spot Sunday and could've prevented Cardinals third baseman Patrick Wisdom from scoring in the sixth when he used an underhand toss to try to catch Wisdom, who was barely safe, instead of just firing it to Hundley.
"Timing was a little bit off there for their safety squeeze, but again, [Garcia] hasn't been out there and he was close to getting him," Bochy said. "A little more experience there and he has him at home plate."
While Garcia slipped up on an important play, he still impressed Bochy with his series overall, including four hits Saturday afternoon, and his natural ability to flex to first base.
"This kid made some great picks and he's done a nice job. He's got no fear, that's the thing about him," Bochy said. "He's not nervous about being up here and playing; he's throwing out some big hits. He's done a good job."
Pitcher Andrew Suarez was sharp in his five-inning, two-run start and earned himself another start before the season closes, Bochy said. Most of the damage was dealt to reliever Ray Black, who allowed four of the Cardinals' five runs in the sixth.
"It would have been nice not to let the game get away there, especially after Craw hits the home run," Bochy said. "But that's what hurt us, a big sixth inning."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Suarez was only at 77 pitches through five innings, but he was due up in the top of the sixth, and Bochy saw an opportunity for the Giants to get back in the game. Infielder Chase d'Arnaud pinch-hit for Suarez to try to spark the offense, but he struck out and Mikolas put together a clean inning. Black replaced Suarez on the mound, and gave up four runs while the Cardinals put together their big five-run sixth inning that sealed the game.
HE SAID IT
"Try to minimize as many mistakes as you can because the guys are the best hitters in the world. You've got to pretty much execute every pitch because if not, you'll pay for it." -- Suarez on his biggest takeaway from his rookie season
The Giants' final homestand of 2018 opens Monday at 7:15 p.m. PT with southpaw Derek Holland (7-8, 3.57 ERA) and Padres righty Bryan Mitchell (1-4, 6.16) starting. The Padres scored four runs on five hits off Holland when the Giants visited Petco Park last Tuesday. San Francisco took two of three in the series.
Sean Collins is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis.