Bullpen melt down: Giants see fifth inning lead evaporate in loss to the A’s

August 1, 2017

MLB, San Francisco Giants

AP17213197542799

Oakland Athletics’ Chad Pinder, left, scores past San Francisco Giants catcher Nick Hundley during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Monday, July 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–A 3-2 lead in the fifth inning isn’t nirvana, but for the Giants on Monday night in Oakland it was as good as would get. A leaky bullpen took it from there, offering free passes and hittable pitches to an A’s team itching for an opportunity.

If you’re Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy, where can you turn?

In the opener of the Bay Bridge Series, the first three relievers summoned by Bochy allowed at least one run. Josh Osich walked a pair of batters, and loaded the bases while recording just one out. George Kontos followed, and his third pitch was grooved. Marcus Semien sent Kontos’ fastball in the middle of the plate beyond the centerfield wall for a grand slam.

Two innings later, Kyle Crick and Hunter Strickland offered Oakland the cherry on top, and they gladly accepted. Matt Joyce singled and Khris Davis walked courtesy of Crick. Then Strickland allowed a two-run, two-out knock to Ryon Healy.

The final damage? The Giants’ pen allowed six runs on five hits, including one game-altering grand slam, and six walks. Six walks?

“In the major leagues that shouldn’t happen and that’s what did us in,” Bochy said of the walks. “Of course the grand slam, that made it a steep uphill climb for us. But we have to control the ball better. We have to get better in the bullpen.”

Four games into the worst road trip in a season of bad road trips, the Giants’ bullpen has allowed 11 earned runs in nine innings, lost three times, and recorded no saves despite four opportunities. That’s bad.

By comparison, the A’s bullpen, depleted by a trade and John Axford’s release, has strung together 11 1/3 innings of scoreless relief in the last two days. In that same span, the Giants have a pair of painful losses. From the Giants’ perspective, it’s not a good comparison.

Four consecutive losses have saddled the Giants with baseball’s worst record, at least for now, worse than the Phillies. The Giants probably won’t lose 100 games, becoming the second club in the San Francisco era to do so, but it’s a possibility.

If so, something has to give. General manager Bobby Evans spoke last week of retaining the team’s core, in part due to the numerous, prohibitive contracts, and in part due to the accomplishments of that core. But that same group has baseball’s worst record since last season’s All Star break, more than a full season of baseball.

Needless to say, tough decisions are looming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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