Donovan not stellar, but mates barely lend a hand
Brewers limited to one run in dropping finale for series split with Giants
SAN FRANCISCO -- A trying Thursday for Brewers manager Ron Roenicke ended with a 4-1 loss to the Giants at AT&T Park and a four-game series split.
It was a long day for Roenicke before Donovan Hand surrendered the first-inning, three-run home run to Brandon Belt that snapped San Francisco's long home run drought, and before Brewers batters mustered only one hit in eight innings against Tim Lincecum. Roenicke spent the morning discussing with his coaches and general manager Doug Melvin the team's latest wave of roster moves and starting rotation realignments.
By the time the Brewers packed their bags for Seattle, the next step on this long road trip, Rickie Weeks would be the fourth Brewer to hit the disabled list with a hamstring strain and Scooter Gennett would be bouncing back to the big leagues for the third time this season.
"We have a nice game [Wednesday], and we come back in here and that's all we're talking about, what we're going to do, instead of enjoying a nice win," Roenicke said. "It's too bad, because when you have nice ballgames and you're playing OK, you want to enjoy it. It just seems like there's always something that comes up.
"We're doing all right. Hey, it's rough. Everybody knows it's rough. The staff all has a good attitude, and I think the team does, too. As hard as it's been this year, I still feel they're getting up for games and they're playing hard. It's just one of those years you go through."
The Brewers fell to 1-10 on Thursdays, 13-20 against the National League West and 49-66 overall.
They fell behind one out into the bottom of the first inning when Belt belted a fastball to the seats in right field for a three-run home run. It ended the Giants' drought of 11 consecutive games and 101 innings at home without hitting a home run.
Hand surrendered another run in the second inning on Brandon Crawford's two-out single, but stranded the bases loaded in a scoreless third and managed to pitch through the fifth, sparing the Brewers' hard-worked bullpen some innings. He has been getting burned by home runs -- seven of them in Hand's last 22 innings and four starts.
"He has," Roenicke said. "When you get behind in the count, you can't rely on that sinker, just throwing it low, because if it's out of the zone it's another ball. So you elevate it some. The reason we like him so much is because he throws strikes, he gets ahead of the hitters. When he's not doing that, he's going to struggle."
Hand tipped his cap.
"The ball today was exactly where I wanted it; [Belt] just hit it," Hand said. "In the previous couple starts the ball's been over the plate and they haven't missed it. Today, give him credit -- I threw the ball exactly where I wanted it. If I had it to do over again, I'd throw it in the same place, probably. He hit it. It's been frustrating. One pitch again today."
The Brewers have lost each of Hand's last six starts, and it remains to be seen whether he gets another. With Marco Estrada returning from the disabled list this week the Brewers have six starting pitchers, and expect to have a seventh next week when Yovani Gallardo returns from a hamstring strain.
Someone will have to go, and Hand and fellow right-hander Tyler Thornburg look like the low men on the depth chart.
"That's why they get paid the big bucks, to make those decisions," Hand said, motioning toward the coaches. "It's been a great opportunity if it don't go any farther. I've shown I can do it. I'm 0-4; I know it don't look like it, but I went five [innings] every time at least, kept us in the games and had a lead a couple times.
"I haven't done it in a long time, haven't started in a long time. It's a learning curve. I'm learning things the hard way; the easy way sometimes. That's why they get paid the big bucks, to make those decisions, and whatever decision they make I've got to go with."
In his fifth start since his 148-pitch no-hitter against the Padres, Lincecum carved his way through eight dominant innings on 108 pitches. He allowed only two baserunners -- Juan Francisco on a double leading off the third inning and Jeff Bianchi on a walk in the fifth.
"Really good stuff," Roenicke said. "You could see it from the first batter. Really free with his delivery, his arm. Great arm speed on his offspeed today. We hit one ball hard off him and got one hit."
The Brewers scratched out their only run in the ninth against the Giants bullpen, with Khris Davis doubling and scoring on Jean Segura's single, but not before the new Lincecum, pitching around 90 mph instead of his former 95, worked through at least the seventh inning for the third straight start.
"I'm just trying to stay within myself," Lincecum said. "I know I'm not going to throw a 95-mph fastball anymore, so why try to throw it anymore? Kind of use what I've got and get outs with it. That means throwing [with] better location and buying into that process. However long it might take. It's a long process for me, but I think it's coming around."