PHILADELPHIA — As he headed off for the start of a short rehab assignment, Hunter Pence told manager Bruce Bochy he would be ready quickly, far sooner than the planned 15 to 20 at-bats. Pence was true to his word, flying to Philadelphia on Saturday evening. The Giants haven’t yet decided if Pence will be active Sunday, or if they’ll wait until Monday, but it’s clear they can use all the help they can get. They can use much more than just Pence.
A day after notching 10 runs on 15 hits, the lineup managed just one run through eight innings. A ninth-inning rally fell short, and the Giants lost 5-3 to a Phillies team that had lost 15 of the previous 18. The Giants managed just four hits against Ben Lively, an unheralded 25-year-old making his MLB debut.
“We couldn’t figure their kid out,” Bochy said. “He had a little different arm angle. That four-seamer stayed up and had some life to it. The offense didn’t wake up until it was too late.”
Bochy conceded that it can at times be difficult to face a pitcher for the first time, but he also said there are no excuses. The Giants have made a habit of this, and this was one day where they needed to break from that stride.
Lively did not have particularly nasty stuff. He didn’t record a strikeout. But that’s just the way it’s been going for a lineup that continues to make all types of pitchers look dominant. Good, bad, veteran, rookie -- it doesn't matter.
“To get one run there until late makes it more frustrating, because that’s kind of been our way,” Bochy said.
The one run held up until the sixth, when former Giants prospect Tommy Joseph yanked a changeup out to left. Johnny Cueto thought he was done after that inning, but a double play in the top of the seventh sent Cueto back out at 108 pitches.
“You just have to be ready,” Cueto said. “You can’t kind of tune out.”
Cueto said he didn’t, but either way, the Phillies were the ones who were ready. Two singles knocked Cueto out of the game and Hunter Strickland gave up two more. Strickland threw a breaking ball to Odubel Herrera that caught too much of the plate, and the center fielder cleared the bases with a double. Strickland said his emotional week did not have any impact on his performance.
“No, not at all,” he said. “They are good hitters and he made the adjustment, and he got the best of it.”
The Phillies became the latest team to get the better of the Giants’ lineup. A two-out rally in the ninth put the tying run on base and necessitated a pitching change, but pinch-hitter Nick Hundley grounded out on the first pitch he saw.