Kicked when down: Pirates turn to put their imprint on the Giants’ historically poor season

July 25, 2017

MLB, San Francisco Giants

AP17206179757257

Pittsburgh Pirates’ Jordy Mercer (10) is congratulated by third base coach Joey Cora (3) after hitting a three-run home run against the San Francisco Giants during the eighth inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Monday, July 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Despite their lowly perch of 24 games below .500, a level near earth’s core, more than 30 games off the pace of the division-leading Dodgers, and with the franchise’s worst-ever record in sight with 62 games remaining until the still-distant finish line, the Giants still haven’t truly hit rock bottom.

That quest resumed in earnest on Monday night.

The Pirates came in smarting from being swept by the Giants in Pittsburgh at the beginning of July, and made their intentions for retribution clear in less than two innings. By that time, the Giants were dizzied, staring at a six-run deficit, and frustrated enough with home plate umpire Chris Conroy that the remainder of Bruce Bochy’s evening was restricted to the clubhouse after a fit of profanities got the manager chased.

And the journey to rock bottom?

Well, that path wound past pinch-hitter Conor Gillaspie’s quiet groundout to second base with the bases loaded in the fourth, and pitching coach Dave Righetti’s ejection in the ninth. Matt Cain’s listless, 11th consecutive start without a win, and the team’s 55th game with three runs of offense or less were low points as well.

“You get six runs down against a guy like (Pirates starter Gerrit) Cole, that’s a big hole to climb out of,” Bochy said after the game while gamely answering all questions without succumbing to reliving the emotion of the frustrating, second inning.

Conroy’s obvious blown call on a 1-0 pitch to Andrew McCutchen with two runners aboard was the start of it, and McCutchen’s three-run homer three pitches later was the beginning of the end. Cain’s snap reaction to the home run came within ear shot of Conroy, and Bochy stepped to the umpire to take the focus off Cain, and the manager paid with his ejection in mere seconds.

Afterwards, Bochy made it clear that it was more than one bad call.

“I think there was some frustration really all night,” he said. “I don’t think (Conroy) had a real good night, to be honest, as far as consistency, but that really had nothing to do with what happened tonight. We gave up three-run homers.”

Jordy Mercer’s three-run homer off Josh Osich in the eighth inning put the Pirates up 9-3 in route to a 10-3 win. The Giants fell to 3-5 on their 10-game home stand with two games remaining, and the Pirates won for the 13th time in their last 17 games to gain traction in the winnable NL Central.

Eduardo Nunez, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford each had two hits, but none of the three scored a run. Reliever Albert Suarez provided the bright spot with two innings of effective, scoreless relief.

Madison Bumgarner attempts to again capture his first win of the season on Tuesday. Bumgarner will be matched up with Jameson Taillon of the Pirates at 7:15pm.

 

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