Giants' offense sputters in loss to Padres
Belt's ninth-inning homer only damage; Cain delivers strong start
SAN DIEGO -- The Giants' streak of one-run games is intriguing, but it's mostly a statistical anomaly.
Matt Cain's dreadful luck against the San Diego Padres is regrettable, but other pitchers have endured similar misfortune.
San Francisco's inability to hit is the real issue at hand, which manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged after Friday night's 2-1 loss.
The Giants' season-opening scoring binge, in which they amassed at least seven runs in five of their first eight games, now seems illusory. Lately, the Giants have more closely resembled last year's ineffectual bunch, which ranked 10th in the National League in runs.
San Francisco has mustered two runs in its last 19 innings and four in its last 26 innings. Though it's far too early in the season to over-analyze a ballclub, Bochy seemed to sense that the Giants will be in trouble unless they stop chasing pitches and resume hitting them soon.
"They're big boys. They have to fight through this," Bochy said. "We'll stay behind them and keep working. What we have to stop doing is going out of the strike zone."
The game's final pitch provided an example of that. Hector Sanchez, whose first-inning passed ball enabled San Diego to score what appeared destined to be the game's lone run, swung wildly at Huston Street's rising fastball and struck out to strand Hunter Pence on second base.
"I tried to do too much in that at-bat," said Sanchez, who ripped a 12th-inning walk-off single Tuesday night against the Dodgers. "That happens. Everybody wants to get the good hit in that situation. But that's why you have to be under control."
Circumstances aligned to give Sanchez a chance to be a hero once again.
With Buster Posey and Michael Morse resting -- they both pinch-hit unsuccessfully in the eighth inning -- San Diego's Tyson Ross blanked the Giants on four hits through eight innings. "That was a lot of fun," said Ross, a Berkeley native who graduated from Bishop O'Dowd High School. "I grew up an A's fan. East Bay, always."
Facing Street, Brandon Belt blasted his sixth homer of the season and halved San Diego's 2-0 lead with one out in the ninth. Pence walked with two outs and stole second base. It was the Giants' third theft of the evening, a season-high which reflected their fervent efforts to generate offense.
Ultimately, all that flurry accomplished was to seal the Giants' eighth consecutive one-run decision, their most since their New York ancestors also played eight such games in a row from Aug. 11-17, 1910.
The margin of defeat was a cruel one for Sanchez, who dwelled on his passed ball. Earlier in the first inning, Chris Denorfia tripled to right-center field and scored as Cain threw a changeup low and outside to walk Jedd Gyorko. Sanchez's glove brushed the ball but it eluded him and rolled to the backstop, enabling Denorfia to score.
"I thought at that moment I caught the ball," Sanchez said. "But I looked at the ground and I did not have it." Pinch-hitter Yasmani Grandal's eighth-inning homer off reliever Juan Gutierrez accounted for San Diego's other run. Sanchez accounted for that as he continued to lament his passed ball: "It's sad, because it's a different story if I catch that ball. We're probably still playing."
Sanchez said that he hadn't watched a replay of his transgression. "I'd probably break the computer," he said.
This added to Cain's compendium of frustrating outings against the Padres. His 12 career losses to them are the most among active players. Yet he owns a respectable 3.04 ERA against San Diego.
Cain held himself accountable by questioning his approach to Gyorko, who batted with two outs. "I should have been a little more aggressive going after him," Cain said.