Boo birds greet Pham as Giants fizzle vs. Reds

Longoria heats up at plate, but Cobb's start is dinged by sloppy defense

June 25th, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants have some ground to make up if they intend to hang with the Dodgers and Padres atop the National League West this summer, and this homestand seemed to represent a golden opportunity to do so. 

With eight games against sub-.500 teams -- the Reds, Tigers and White Sox -- the Giants have a chance to start piling up some wins, but they fell short in their first attempt on Friday night. San Francisco mustered only six hits over eight innings against Reds rookie Graham Ashcraft, culminating in a 4-2 series-opening loss at Oracle Park.

The Giants have lost four of their last five games, slipping 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Dodgers and 5 1/2 games behind the Padres.

Here are three takeaways as San Francisco dropped to 38-32 on the season.

Not so warm welcome

Reds left fielder Tommy Pham received a predictably hostile reception from fans in his first game at Oracle Park since slapping Joc Pederson over a fantasy football dispute on May 27. Pham was loudly booed before each trip to the plate, though he didn’t end up hurting the Giants, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout. It was Pham’s first action against San Francisco this year, as he didn’t appear in the series at Great American Ball Park last month after receiving a three-game suspension following his pregame altercation with Pederson.

Several Reds players poked fun at the incident by wearing “Pham!” T-shirts during batting practice, though the Giants made it clear they had no interest in continuing to stir up drama.

"Our club has really moved past this," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I'll echo Joc's sentiments: We have incredible and supportive fans, but we also want them to be respectful, as well."

More bad breaks for Cobb

Right-hander Alex Cobb gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits over 4 1/3 innings in his second start since returning from the injured list, though he was once again the victim of some bad luck.

Shortstop Brandon Crawford, who returned to the starting lineup on Friday after missing two games with a left knee contusion, uncharacteristically made two bad throws that helped fuel the Reds’ rallies against Cobb in the second and fifth innings. Crawford has 10 errors through 61 games this year. The 35-year-old veteran committed only nine over 135 games in 2021, when he won his fourth career Gold Glove Award.

“I think Craw has just been grinding through some physical stuff all season long,” Kapler said. “Tonight was no exception. … I just don’t think he’s been at his best physically, and as a result, I don’t think he’s been at his best defensively.”

In the second, Crawford made a high throw to first that pulled Brandon Belt off the bag, allowing Kyle Farmer to reach on an infield single and kick off a two-run inning. Nick Senzel then opened the fifth by reaching on a catcher interference and moved to second on a walk by Jonathan India. After a double steal put runners on second and third, former Giant Donovan Solano hit a grounder to Crawford, who made an errant throw to the plate that allowed Senzel to score and extend the Reds’ lead to 3-1.

Cobb was removed after throwing 80 pitches and replaced by John Brebbia, who recorded the final two outs of the inning.

“I felt like I had pretty good stuff early on,” Cobb said. “I’m still trying to get back into that form that I was at before I went on the IL. There were some well-hit balls with runners in scoring position that I would have liked to have had back. But there were also some good pitches that they got hits on. I knew I had a shorter pitch count, but I would have liked to have gone at least through that fifth inning, especially with what our bullpen went through this last series in Atlanta.”

Longo heating up

Evan Longoria put the Giants on the board in the fourth inning, driving a misplaced slider from Ashcraft into the home bullpen in left-center field for his sixth home run of the year. San Francisco didn’t score another run against Ashcraft until Mike Yastrzemski singled home Wilmer Flores with two outs in the eighth.

It’s been an up-and-down season for Longoria, who missed the first 30 games of the year after undergoing right index finger surgery during Spring Training. The 36-year-old third baseman ended May on a high note, blasting five home runs in a six-day span, though he fell into a bit of an offensive lull in June. He seems to be finding his groove again, though, as he’s now 7-for-18 over his last five games after logging his second consecutive multi-hit effort.

“He’s been swinging the bat really well,” Kapler said. “It was especially encouraging because it was difficult after that long road trip to continue to get out there and post today. The road trip banged a lot of our guys up. Atlanta was especially hot, and the ground was especially hard. It’s always challenging for the legs of infielders. Longo is no exception, but he posted and took some of our better swings of the night.”