Missed chances sink Giants in 16 innings
Crawford commits error to allow winner to score; 18 runners stranded
SAN FRANCISCO -- The longer Monday night's game lasted, the more aggravation the Giants endured in a 4-3, 16-inning loss to the New York Mets.
Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford mishandled pinch-hitter Anthony Recker's ground ball for an error that enabled the Mets to break a 3-3 tie in the 16th with an unearned run. But that was far from the only transgression the Giants committed as they absorbed their sixth loss in seven games and 12th in their last 14.
They went 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position and stranded 18 baserunners. The Giants' lack of execution was especially noticeable in extra innings, when they left seven men in scoring position.
"This is as frustrating a game as we've had," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Buster Posey recorded a career-high five hits, including a two-run, first-inning homer off Mets ace Matt Harvey. Unfortunately for the Giants, Posey also caught all 16 innings and is unlikely to play Tuesday.
"He's going to need a break," Bochy said.
Posey's productivity, which included a pair of doubles, was offset by Brandon Belt's 0-for-8 performance in his debut as San Francisco's No. 3 hitter. The last Giant to go hitless in eight at-bats was Jose Uribe on June 11, 1985, at Atlanta. Belt drove the ball nicely in his first two plate appearances but ultimately struck out five times. Bochy indicated that he'll give Belt at least one more opportunity to bat third Tuesday.
"You don't want to keep mixing it up too much," Bochy said.
Of all the extra-inning chances the Giants manufactured for themselves, the most promising one occurred against ex-Giants right-hander David Aardsma in the 11th, when Posey doubled and Pablo Sandoval drew an intentional walk with one out. Up came Hunter Pence, who ended a career-worst 0-for-24 skid with a triple off the right-field wall in the seventh inning. This time, Pence punched a line drive to right field, but Marlon Byrd tracked it perfectly and made the catch.
Otherwise, Pence went 0-for-4 before being removed as part of a double-switch in the 12th inning. Analyzing his and the team's offensive struggles, Pence said, "Part of it might be trying to be too aggressive, trying to do too much."
The Giants' offensive shortcomings enabled the Mets to capitalize on their go-ahead opportunity in the 16th.
With the score deadlocked, Giants right-hander George Kontos (2-2) yielded Eric Young Jr.'s one-out single. Young stole second base and advanced to third on Daniel Murphy's groundout. Javier Lopez relieved Kontos and, after intentionally walking David Wright, coaxed a grounder to Crawford, whose 11th-inning diving stop robbed Byrd of a two-run single. This time, Crawford mishandled the ball as Young came home.
"He's so good over there," Bochy said, steadfastly refusing to criticize Crawford. "He just didn't come up with it."
That, for all intents and purposes, ended the Giants' longest game by innings since they played 18 against Arizona at AT&T Park on May 29, 2001.
The Giants also struggled defensively in the sixth inning, when New York scored twice to erase its 2-1 deficit. The victim of the Giants' poor defense was starter Tim Lincecum, who recaptured some of his bygone glory as he struck out a season-high 11 in seven innings.
"He looked like he had a really good tempo going," Kontos said of Lincecum, who issued just one walk. "He was locating everything, throwing that nice, slow breaking ball, throwing the fastball to both sides of the plate -- that definitely was one of the big positives of the game, him looking like his old self."
Lincecum no-hit the Mets for four innings before he endured his recurring sixth-inning jinx. The right-hander has yielded at least one sixth-inning run in five consecutive starts. He squandered leads in three of those instances.
But this time, shabby defense partly accounted for his sixth-inning woes, which began with Young's leadoff triple that left fielder Andres Torres appeared to pursue hesitantly. Torres then missed a sliding attempt to catch Murphy's line drive, which caromed off his thigh for an RBI single.
Wright smacked a grounder that third baseman Sandoval smothered, but he threw too late to second base to force out Murphy. Marco Scutaro exacerbated the situation with a wild toss past first base that enabled Murphy to reach third. He scored on Ike Davis' double-play grounder.
San Francisco pulled even in the seventh on Pence's leadoff triple -- which was close enough to being a home run to prompt an umpires' replay review -- and Crawford's single.
This outing was billed as an audition of sorts for Mets All-Star Matt Harvey, the hometown choice to start the July 16 Midsummer Classic at New York's Citi Field. It was widely believed that a strong outing by Harvey might impress Bochy, who will manage the National League All-Star squad, and induce him to give the right-hander the starting assignment. Harvey recorded a quality start, allowing three runs and six hits in seven innings, though he was nagged by a blister on his right index finger.
"I'm obviously not happy and there's work to be done," Harvey said. "The positive was going seven. I think after three innings and 70-something pitches, being able to bounce back was good."
The Giants were left to wonder whether they can bounce back, too.