Instant Replay: Bullpen can't hold onto lead vs Mets, Giants lose fourth straight

Instant Replay: Bullpen can't hold onto lead vs Mets, Giants lose fourth straight


NEW YORK — The Giants spent three long, brutal days at Great American Ball Park in the middle of this trip. The pain on the first night in New York came quickly. 

Neil Walker’s single to right gave the Mets a 4-3 walk-off win with two outs in the ninth at Citi Field. The Giants have lost four straight after taking a series at Dodger Stadium.

Josh Osich kicked off the bottom of the ninth by walking Michael Conforto. Three batters later, Wilmer Flores lined an infield single off Hunter Strickland, advancing the runner. Walker pulled a pitch into the right field corner, ending a game that lasted three hours and 22 minutes. 

A day after an embarrassing shutout in Cincinnati, Hunter Pence got the Giants on the board early. His two-run blast off Jacob deGrom landed in the visiting bullpen and a couple of relievers put their hands up in celebration. By the end of the first, those same guys were starting to stir. Matt Moore needed 36 pitches to get through his half of the first, and he gave half the lead back. The Giants caught a break when Neil Walker’s double skipped over the fence, keeping a second run from scoring. 

Moore settled in after the rocky start, throwing just 35 pitches over the next three innings. In the fifth, he gave up the lead but limited the damage. Two singles and a double tied it up, but Moore got Jay Bruce and Wilmer Flores to pop up on the infield. With runners still on second and third, he bounced a good breaking ball and Neil Walker swung over the top to end the inning. 

Buster Posey immediately rewarded Moore’s resilience. He ambushed deGrom’s first pitch of the sixth, hitting a solo shot to the second deck in left. The homer was Posey’s third of the season. 

Again, the lead wouldn’t last. With a runner on and two down in the sixth, Curtis Granderson lined a pinch-hit double to left off George Kontos. 

Starting pitching report: Bochy kept a somewhat close eye on Moore last season, his first full year back from Tommy John. The reins are off this year. Moore threw a season-high 108 pitches Monday and he has gone over 104 in three of his last five starts. The other two were cut short by ineffectiveness. 

Bullpen report: Steven Okert had his third multi-inning outing of the trip. He recorded four straight outs after the Mets tied it in the sixth. 

At the plate: Christian Arroyo struck out four times. There will be growing pains. 

In the field: It’s not really his fault, because he’s playing out of position for the good of the lineup, but Eduardo Nuñez just doesn’t look comfortable in left field. When Denard Span returns, we’ll see how long this experiment continues.

Attendance: The Mets announced a crowd of 28,453 human beings. There were a few boos for Conor Gillaspie, naturally.

Up next: Jeff Samardzija will try to keep his good vibes going. He’ll face Zack Wheeler, the former Giants top prospect who is 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA in his return from a lengthy battle with elbow problems.

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential


Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For most pitchers, spring training is a time to experiment and add a pitch or two. Josh Osich is using this month to go the other direction. 

Osich spent the offseason watching film of his 2015 season, when he looked like he might one day be the closer in San Francisco, and decided that he needed to get back to his roots. That means the curveball, which he tried so hard to mix in last year, is now far back in the cupboard. The four-seam and two-seam fastballs are once again the focus, with an emphasis on changing eye levels more than he did a year ago. The changeup and cutter will round out his arsenal for the most part. 

Osich’s raw stuff is still as good as just about any lefty reliever in the league, and he hopes to take advantage of that while putting a rough 2017 season in his rearview mirror. He had a 6.23 ERA last season and 1.73 WHIP.

“It’s just one of those learning years,” Osich said. “I tried to live at the bottom of the zone and I was, but I was actually below the zone. So then I would fall behind and need to throw a strike and that’s when guys would hit me.”

Osich, 29, had a 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP during that 2015 season that he keeps going back to. He walked eight batters in 28 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 27 he walked in 43 1/3 last year. While watching the 2015 version of himself, Osich saw that his hands were higher, and that’s something he’s working to replicate. He’s also trying to slow his pace to the plate. So far, the results are nothing but encouraging. Osich allowed one hit and struck out one in a 2 1/3 inning appearance on Wednesday night. Manager Bruce Bochy let him extend himself to keep the good vibes going. 

In six appearances this spring, Osich has allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He has seven strikeouts and one walk. 

“O, it just seems like he’s got confidence,” Bochy said. “He’s kept it simple, he’s not tinkering with different pitches. He’s throwing more strikes, and more than anything he’s just trying to pound the strike zone now with quality strikes. That’s all he has to do. You look at him and he’s hitting 95 with a couple of good off-speed pitches. That works here.”