One step forward, two steps back. For the Giants to fulfill the formula of true failure, they’d need to lose the next five games after Saturday’s one-run loss to the Pirates. Following a five-game winning streak with five consecutive losses isn’t quite as bad, but it erases the progress and hope the Giants had built up going into this road trip. Getting swept out of Washington DC was bad enough. Two losses in a row to Pittsburgh make it worse.
Jamey Wright was not the right man for the job, yet he started the game. Another night and day situation with the right-handerhe started the year 5-3 with a 3.84 earned run average, but has lost eight of his last ten starts, and his ERA over this period stands at 6.33.
Wright’s control remained problematic over six innings pitched. He hit three batters, one bean ball bouncing right off the top of Ronny Paulino’s batting helmet, and he walked five others. Jason Bay walked in his first three at-bats alone. He allowed hits to the first hitter of the inning four times, including Jeromy Burnitz twice. Burnitz singled and would score in the second inning, and he hit a home run in the fifth to cement the Pirate victory.
While the Giants had nothing going on their side, the Pirates had plenty happening on theirs. Rookie left-hander Tom Gorzelanny had terrifying numbers coming into the game. An ERA over 7.00 and a walks-plus-hits-per inning mark at around 2.00 doesn’t inspire confidence in a starting pitcher.
It’s demonstrative of how poorly the Giants are going right now. Gorzelanny pitched fine for seven innings, giving up two runs and striking out five. He earned his first Major League win at San Francisco’s expense, as improbable as the game preview stories make it seem.
The difference in this game had to be Pittsburgh’s defense. The infielders made all the plays ranging from routine to spectacular, diving stops and quick throws and just smart, heads-up defense. Neither team had offensive flourishes, and neither pitcher was particularly brilliant. Gorzelanny had the luxury of getting Giants batters to hit the ball, and left the rest up to his stellar infielders.
The Giants had chances to score, and failed to take advantage of the opportunities the Pirates afforded them. Barry Bonds walked in the forth inning and Shea Hillenbrand singled, but Pedro Feliz popped out in foul territory to leave both runners on base. Moises Alou doubled in the sixth but stayed on second when neither Hillenbrand nor Feliz could bring him home. Hillenbrand struck out to end the inning with Ray Durham and Alou on base.
Brian Wilson and Kevin Correia pitched two innings of scoreless baseball to keep the Giants in the game. After Wright’s barely functional performance, the two young relievers proved the bullpen isn’t as combustible as some would like to think.
Losing one-run games can be disheartening, but when a team is really pressing for a win it is be absolutely backbreaking. There was hope again for the Giants in the ninth inning, when Feliz doubled to left field, and Eliezer Alfonzo scored him on a base hit. Facing Pittsburgh’s closer Mike Gonzalez with only one run as the difference, the Giants had the chance to strike against a tough left handed pitcher and one of the few things that has gone right for the Pirates team all year.
It was not to be. Todd Linden bounced into a double play and Randy Winn grounded out quietly to end the game, and to send the Giants to their fifth straight loss. In danger of being swept on the road trip, six games they should have won and had no reason to lose, they play one more in Pittsburgh before heading home to face the Nationals once again. Their grip on the division lead is already long gone, and now they are behind Arizona for third place in the National League West. Don’t ask where it all went. Focus on getting back there.
SFDugout.com Player of the Game: Ray Durham had two hits and a run scored in a terribly bland loss against a poor team. Nothing can stop the diminutive second baseman these days.
Notes: Noted Giant killer Sean Casey did not play in the game. He was scratched about an hour before the game began due to a rib injury. There goes all the speculation he was about to be traded…Joe Randa started at first in Casey’s place. It was his first start at the position since 2004…the Giants are 1-5 against the worst team in the National League this season…Bonds was booed every at-bat in the city where he won hearts and minds as a two-time Most Valuable Player.
Chris has been a Giants fan since her days in utero. She loves baseball and writes about whatever she can get her hands on…even the Athletics. She's a Bay Area gal through and through. This is her 24th season of fandom. Love/hate mail can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, where the love mail gets top priority and the hate mail gets used for kindling.
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