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Giants unable to overcome shaky Stratton

August 3, 2018

PHOENIX -- On Thursday, Chris Stratton saw the pitcher he is striving to emulate.Giants ace Madison Bumgarner was in and out of early trouble in Thursday's victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, but he made the pitches he needed to keep the D-backs at bay.Stratton could not find command of the

PHOENIX -- On Thursday, Chris Stratton saw the pitcher he is striving to emulate.
Giants ace Madison Bumgarner was in and out of early trouble in Thursday's victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, but he made the pitches he needed to keep the D-backs at bay.
Stratton could not find command of the put-away pitch he needed early Friday, and it cost him in a five-run first inning that led to a 6-3 loss at Chase Field.
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In his first start since July 3, Stratton gave up 10 hits and six runs in three-plus innings. But Stratton was so close to avoiding that trouble, twice one pitch away from the limiting the damage in the first, when the D-backs scored four of their runs with two outs.
Stratton (8-7) walked Alex Avila with the bases loaded and two outs to force in the third run of the inning, and winning pitcher Patrick Corbin grounded an 0-2 fastball up the middle to drive in the final two runs in the inning.

Suddenly it was 5-1, negating Austin Slater's RBI single in the top of the first.
"Just have to make some better pitchers, especially with traffic on," Stratton said. "That's something that 'Bum' did a great job of yesterday. That's why he's great. It's something I have to improve on to be a better pitcher."
Bumgarner left nine runners on base in five innings Thursday, and gave up only one run despite facing bases-loaded situations in the first and second innings.
"He was just off with fastball command," manager Bruce Bochy said of Stratton. "I think the pitch … you look back at that game. It's 3-1. Corbin got an 0-2 pitch right down the middle. He has to execute to execute a little better right there. His stuff is fine.
"What he needs is some confidence, and you just don't quite see that with him right now. There is no reason why he doesn't have it, because his stuff is good. That's the biggest issue with him, I think. If he'd had a good first inning, he might have got on a roll. But he battled, I'll say that. He logged a lot of pitches."
Stratton pointed to the Avila and Corbin plate appearances also. Avila walked on a 3-1 pitch that was inside and down.

"The one to Avila was brutal as well," he said. "Can't let that guy get away from me, especially with the pitcher coming up. Corbin was late on two fastballs and I threw one right down the middle. I can't really expect anything from that."
Stratton, 4-4 with a 3.68 ERA in the first 10 starts of his Major League career last season, has a 5.52 ERA in 20 appearances, 19 starts, this season.
He said his cutter has been moving more in the last month or so, leading to the command issues, and that is something he will find a way to correct.

"I just have to make an adjustment somehow," he said. "If it is changing grip, if it's changing stride length, if it's something. I have to do a better job of commanding the fastball, because everything plays off of that."
Left-hander Ty Blach entered with the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth inning and cut off a potential big inning by getting Eduardo Escobar to foul out and Daniel Descalso to ground into a double play started by second baseman Chase d'Arnaud. Blach gave up one hit in 2 1/3 innings after pitching two scoreless innings Thursday.
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"I can't say enough about what Blach did after his workload last night," Bochy said. "Those guys [bullpen] did a heck of a job keeping us in the game. That game could have easily gotten away from us. The bullpen picked each other up. They did a great job."

The Giants will recall one pitcher, maybe two, on Saturday, Bochy said, after the bullpen logged nine innings in the last two games and also put in a lot of work during a two-game sweep of San Diego on Monday and Tuesday.
They, of course, are prepared. The Giants held out several pitchers in the farm system Thursday night in just that eventuality. They will not need a fifth starter the next time through the rotation because of an off-day Wednesday, which also could play into the moves.
"You hate it. Those guys take a beating back there. You kind of take it for granted, because most of the time they just kind of shrug it off and go to the next pitch. I think he'll be fine, but you definitely hate it when something like that happens." -- Stratton, on catcher Buster Posey being forced to leave the game after being struck by a foul tip in the mask

The Giants will send left-hander Andrew Suarez (4-6, 4.11 ERA) to the mound against the D-backs on Saturday for the 5:10 p.m. PT start. Suarez made his Major League debut against Arizona in a loss on April 11 and had one of his best outings in a victory at Chase Field on June 29, when he gave up one run and seven hits in six innings. Five of those hits did not leave the infield. The D-backs will start Clay Buchholz (4-1, 2.65).

Jack Magruder is a writer for based in Phoenix.