SAN FRANCISCO -- For at least the next 10 days, the Giants will have to galvanize to replace first baseman Brandon Belt, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a hyperextended right knee. It proved to be difficult in Thursday evening's 7-5 loss to the Brewers at AT&T
SAN FRANCISCO -- For at least the next 10 days, the Giants will have to galvanize to replace first baseman Brandon Belt, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a hyperextended right knee. It proved to be difficult in Thursday evening's 7-5 loss to the Brewers at AT&T Park.
Despite having the leadoff hitter reach four times in the first five frames, the Giants managed just two runs through seven innings. They stranded a total of eight men on base and went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Belt's glove was sorely missed as well. Austin Slater made his first Major League appearance at first base, and the rookie was unable to field an in-between hop that sparked a two-run rally in the eighth inning. Ruled a hit, it was a play that Belt, an eight-year veteran, may have made.
"The ball took a bad hop and that started things," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Slater, who said he felt prepared at first, wished he could have gotten another chance at that ball.
"I think if I charged it, I might have still had an in-between hop," Slater said. "You can always second-guess yourself. Obviously what I did wasn't the right play. I'll look at the film and learn from it."
Replicating the production of Belt, the team leader in home runs, RBIs and on-base percentage, is a tall task. Not only will the offense have to wake up, but the Giants need quality innings from their starters, a lockdown bullpen and mistake-free defense.
They got the innings from Dereck Rodriguez, who threw his fifth consecutive quality start and took a no-decision. The rookie gave the Giants six innings of two-run ball, allowing five hits, four for extra bases. He maneuvered around the damage, however, striking out five and stranding three Brewers in scoring position.
"I did all right," Rodriguez said. "I felt good. I thought I could have done a little bit better. In the first inning they were out there attacking, attacking the fastball. I felt like every pitch I threw in the strike zone they were going after."
The big blow for Rodriguez came in the sixth, when Christian Yelich took him deep to tie the game, 2-2. It was a rarity for Rodriguez, the first home run the righty has given up since June 24 (five starts ago).
"First-pitch curveball of the inning," Rodriguez said, "really did not expect him to swing. He made me pay for it and hats off to him."
The loss snapped the Giants' six-game win streak with Rodriguez on the bump.
In the eighth, the bad bounce came back to haunt Mark Melancon (0-1), who was charged with two runs and the loss. Milwaukee tacked on three crucial insurance runs off Chris Stratton in the ninth before the Giants scratched two runs off closer Corey Knebel in the bottom half.
Evan Longoria returned Thursday for the first time since fracturing his left wrist June 14. The third baseman did his best to spell Belt, going 2-for-4 with a run.
Buster Posey and Steven Duggar each collected two hits, a run and an RBI.
With the loss, the Giants have dropped six of their last eight and have fallen to .500 for the first time since June 23.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Posey and Longoria opened up the fourth inning with consecutive singles. Looking to build on a 2-1 lead, Brandon Crawford ripped a liner to right. Posey misread the ball that was caught relatively easily by Yelich and made a beeline for third. It was an uncharacteristic baserunning gaffe by Posey, who was doubled off at second. Just like that, the chance to build on a slim lead evaporated.
"We made some mistakes and it came back to get us," Bochy said.
The Giants are now 20-35 when the opposing team scores first.
HE SAID IT
"I think all of 2015, [I played] probably 110 games that season at second base. Before that, during college, I played a lot of third base. High school, shortstop. It's not out of the comfort zone for sure. I felt going into the game I was prepared and I was ready to handle it. Obviously I wish I could get that one ball back." -- Slater, when asked about his experience playing infield before he played a little first base at Triple-A Sacramento
The Giants will hand the ball to Madison Bumgarner (3-3, 3.19 ERA) for the second installment of a four-game series against the Brewers. The left-hander is coming off his worst outing of the season in which he walked six batters across four innings. Two of those walks came with the bases loaded, just the third and fourth times Bumgarner has walked home a run in his career. It snapped Bumgarner's MLB-leading streak of 89 outings of at least five innings. He'll look to rebound Friday at AT&T Park at 7:15 p.m. PT. Milwaukee counters with right-hander Chase Anderson (6-7, 3.81 ERA).
Martin Oppegaard is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.