DENVER -- There are times when a pitcher must stand tall on the mound even after his effectiveness has slipped, his deception has dwindled and his hope -- despite his competitive nature -- has evaporated.Chris Stratton endured that kind of thankless night Tuesday for the Giants, who absorbed an 8-1
DENVER -- There are times when a pitcher must stand tall on the mound even after his effectiveness has slipped, his deception has dwindled and his hope -- despite his competitive nature -- has evaporated.
Chris Stratton endured that kind of thankless night Tuesday for the Giants, who absorbed an 8-1 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field.
San Francisco has lost two in a row to Colorado since sweeping three games at Arizona to begin their six-game road trip. Yet the Giants' imminent return to San Francisco for a 10-game homestand that will take them into the All-Star break will have a therapeutic effect. It may enable most players to shrug off the sting of this one by the time they suit up for Wednesday's finale vs. the Rockies.
Stratton will have this game to dwell on, however. The right-hander worked 5 2/3 innings and allowed eight runs on a career-high 11 hits. Charlie Blackmon, the second batter Stratton faced, homered to open the scoring. Nolan Arenado, who tortures Giants pitching, added a three-run homer in the fifth. In 100 career games against San Francisco, Arenado has 90 RBIs, second among active players to Matt Kemp's 93.
In his last two starts, both against the Rockies, Stratton allowed 13 runs and 19 hits in 9 2/3 innings for a 12.10 ERA.
It's a time of transition for the Giants' pitching staff. Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija are healed from their injuries and set to rejoin the rotation later this week. Stratton (8-6) leads the team in wins, but even he wouldn't call himself the staff's most indispensable pitcher. Asked if he had addressed possible changes in his role with the coaching staff, Stratton said with biting candor, "No, but I certainly didn't help myself out recently."
This outing could eventually prompt the Giants to send Stratton and his 4.93 ERA back to Triple-A Sacramento to refine his potentially impressive curveball. At best, it'll be a career builder for him, an experience that will teach him how to transform bad times into good.
In fact, Giants manager Bruce Bochy praised the perseverance Stratton displayed by lasting as long as he did.
"He did a pretty good job of that," Bochy said. "I'll give him a lot of credit for hanging in there."
The Giants could use more of this toughness at Coors Field, where they have lost 14 of their last 16 games. Bochy's analysis: Coming to Colorado doesn't automatically activate San Francisco's bats as it does with some clubs. On Tuesday, the Giants recorded only their seventh game in franchise history at Colorado without gathering an extra-base hit. That hadn't happened since May 19, 2013.
"We don't seem to score a lot here," Bochy said. "We score two runs, one run -- that's not going to work here."
After going 1-for-12 over the first four games of the Giants' road trip, Alen Hanson had a 2-for-4 night.
The Giants conclude a six-game road trip with a Fourth of July date against the Rockies at 5:10 p.m. PT on Wednesday. San Francisco's starter will be left-hander Andrew Suarez, who's striving to make his case to stay in the rotation -- or at least in the Majors -- with Samardzija and Cueto returning this week. Colorado left-hander Tyler Anderson will oppose Suarez.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.