Giants display unconventional tactics to no avail in 5-0 loss to the Diamondbacks and Zac Gallen

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Over the weekend, the Giants’ bunting seemed like a smart tactic, a way to lift their collective, moribund batting averages, and put pressure on the opponent’s defense.

On Thursday, bunting drew the boo birds.

The story begins and progresses to a decisive juncture with Zac Gallen, Arizona’s starter in the finale of the four-game series. Gallen was as good as it gets, shutting out the Giants into the eighth inning while striking out 12.

“I felt like I was ahead early and I felt like I was able to put them away after one or two pitches,” Gallen said.

If that simple statement sounds cocky, it matters not. Gallen dealt to the degree that this may have been the best start of his career. He didn’t walk anyone, he allowed three singles and a double to Evan Longoria, and he started the first 21 batters he faced with strike one. Gallen finished with an amazing 23 of 25 first pitch strikes. Combine that with the effectiveness of his four pitches, and know that in the latter stages of the outing the Giants were flailing, and made to guess.

“He was feeling it and it was a lot of fun for all of us to watch,” manager Torey Lovullo said.

With two on, two strikes and two out in the seventh, Brandon Belt attempted to bunt his way on, squaring at the last second and not getting enough of the bat on the ball, leaving little momentum as it went foul 10 feet from the plate. That ended the team’s most promising rally with a dud. Gallen appeared confounded by the move, and the crowd responded with boos. Neither conventional or effective, Belt was left to explain after the game.

“(Gallen) didn’t miss a whole lot and I wasn’t doing much with it,” Belt said. “From my point of view I’ve been struggling a little bit. He was tough all day. He didn’t have a whole lot of misses high and inside with his fastball. I took the best route that I thought would keep the inning going. I’m not saying I’m right about that, but that was the decision I made.”

After a pair of exhilarating wins to start the series, and Brandon Crawford’s come-from-behind, walk-off homer on Tuesday, the Giants ended up with a split with the Diamondbacks. Despite winning five straight, the Giants are back to square one. With 44 games remaining, they’re 59-59 and trailing the Padres by six games in the wild card chase. Needless to say, they can’t afford many more afternoons like this one.

Logan Webb started for the hosts and ran into difficulties in the third inning. The Giants’ ace wouldn’t survive the fifth after allowing nine hits and three walks along with having to account for Joc Pederson’s fielding error in the fifth. Pederson’s gaffe helped the Diamondbacks score twice, increasing their lead to 5-0.

The Giants open a three-city trip in Denver on Friday, facing the Rockies and starter Jose Urena, who’s won just once in eight starts since being acquired from Milwaukee. Alex Wood will start for the Giants.

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