Giants manage just four hits in finale, drop three of four at Chase Field

Giants manage just four hits in finale, drop three of four at Chase Field

PHOENIX — Aaron Hill stood in the visiting clubhouse of a park he long called home, smiled, and pointed out that the Giants have 158 games left. 

“Didn’t we sweep them one year and they went out and won the World Series?” he asked. 

Hill’s Diamondbacks did, in 2012, taking three straight games from a Giants team that then went to Coors Field and watched Barry Zito throw a shocking shutout in the season's fourth game. This series left a similarly bitter taste, as the Giants dropped three of four in strikingly similar fashion. 

On Thursday they again jumped out to a lead, only to see the Diamondbacks charge forward with another stretch of seven unanswered runs. A second straight night of that led to a 9-3 loss for the Giants, who managed just four hits in a park where that’s hard to do.

“You’re trying to limit the damage,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “When they scored, they put up crooked numbers. When we scored, we put up one. We’ve had success here by answering back and scoring lots of runs. Their guy (Robbie Ray) had good stuff, but still, we scored early and it got away from us. It comes down to pitching better.”

Jeff Samardzija couldn’t have thrown any better in the first couple of innings. He had five strikeouts, and he followed that with an easy third. In the fourth, David Peralta and Paul Goldschmidt hit solo homers to tie the game. Samardzija wasn’t particularly bothered by that inning, but the sixth inning ticked him off. 

Peralta drew a leadoff walk ahead of the dangerous Goldschmidt, who singled. Samardzija tried to sneak a fastball past Jake Lamb and it ended up bouncing onto the pool deck in right-center field. A 3-2 Giants lead turned into a two-run deficit.

“The sixth inning bothers me,” Samardzija said. “We were going heating in. We had thrown a few in there and had success. It ran back over the plate and he got good wood on it.”

Samardzija gave way to the bullpen, and Ty Blach — pitching for the second time in an unfamiliar short-relief role — couldn’t keep the game close. Blach gave up three runs with two outs in the eighth, walking a pair before two hits to left that gave Hill, an infielder his whole career up until Wednesday, trouble. 

“They’ve got to bring their closer in (for the next inning) and there are two outs and nobody on, and they put up a crooked number,” Bochy said. “We’ve got to clean it up and stay away from that.”

--- Bochy said Buster Posey will get a planned day off Friday, with Nick Hundley catching Matt Cain. Hunter Pence will also get a day off. The Giants had planned to rest Pence more often this season and they are reacting in part to four very long games (they weren’t thrilled by the pace of play this week). Jarrett Parker will start in right and Hill, who homered early Thursday, seems headed for his first career start in left. 

“It’s about getting in there and getting experience,” he said. “I’m comfortable. But it’s a new position … I want to see those line drives and hard fly balls.”

Hill came up just short on a diving attempt in the eighth Thursday. He got turned around a bit on an RBI double to the warning track. 

The Giants are hopeful that Denard Span (hip) can start Friday. If not, Gorkys Hernandez will get another day. 

--- Hunter Strickland was stretched out on Thursday, getting five outs. Bochy knew he wouldn’t have Strickland this weekend. The reliever and his wife, Shelley, are expecting their first child. Steven Okert will replace Strickland while he’s on paternity leave. 

MLB Power Rankings 2019: Giants, A's open in middle of the pack


MLB Power Rankings 2019: Giants, A's open in middle of the pack

The MLB standings have an odd look right now. The Mariners are 2-0. The A's are 0-2. The other 28 teams are 0-0. 

That's what happens when you have two teams open their season overseas a week in advance, but the rest of the league will catch up on Thursday.

There will be early-season surprises and disappointments, and you can count on panic in at least one big market. That's the case every year.

But before the other 28 teams officially get going, let's take a look around the majors for our first edition of the Power Rankings, with a special focus on some guys who have Giants ties:


These Giants can reach major career milestones during 2019 MLB season

These Giants can reach major career milestones during 2019 MLB season

SAN FRANCISCO -- It has been 10 years since we first saw Buster Posey take the field for the Giants at Oracle Park. That emotional moment in Bruce Bochy's office when Brandon Belt found out he made the team? That was eight years ago. Brandon Crawford is about to begin his eighth season as the everyday shortstop. 

In other words, this core has been around a long time, and that means some of these guys are moving up the franchise charts and coming up on statistical milestones. Here are some to keep an eye on in 2019: 

Buster Posey

As a full-time big leaguer, Posey has only had two seasons where he wasn't worth at least four Wins Above Replacement -- and he had season-ending surgery both times. With another four-WAR season, Posey will move well into the top 10 on the franchise list, all the way up to seventh. He's currently 12th with 41.3 career WAR, per Baseball-Reference. He has a long, long way to catch franchise leader Willie Mays (154.8)

Brandon Crawford

It's been four years since the shortstop hit 21 homers, and the Giants haven't had anyone reach 20 since.

But Crawford needs just 13 this season to become the 31st player in franchise history to hit 100 homers with the Giants. He has 14 each of the past two seasons. 

Posey vs. Crawford

These longtime friends like to take good-natured shots at each other when it comes to stats (usually when stolen bases are involved), so we should point out that Crawford (58) is just three intentional walks behind Posey (61). Crawford needs two free passes this year to pass Matt Williams and move into 10th place on the franchise list. 

The Brandons

They like to tease each other, too, so we should also point out that Belt enters the season with 199 career doubles and Crawford is at 198. Game on. 

Madison Bumgarner

With 110 career wins, Bumgarner has surpassed former teammates Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. He needs 11 this season to move from 16th to 12th on the franchise's win list. Bumgarner will need an extension to get any higher than that. 

There's a nice round number at play, too. A couple of injury-marred years have bumped Bumgarner up to a 3.03 ERA. If he gets past 200 innings as he hopes and has an ERA in the 2.70 range, he would hit free agency with a career ERA that starts with the number two. That would surely please his agent. 

Bumgarner is also eighth on the franchise list with 1,591 strikeouts and he could move all the way to fourth, just ahead of Lincecum, if he spends the whole season in San Francisco. The left-hander needs 104 strikeouts to pass Cain (currently fifth) and 114 to pass Lincecum. 

Gerardo Parra

The next time Parra throws a runner out, he'll reach 100 assists for his career. He has 47 career assists in left, 38 in right and 14 in center.

If this feels to you like a rare arm on the Giants, you'd be correct. Over the last five seasons, the Giants rank 29th in the Majors with 103 outfield assists. Parra has 45 by himself during that time. 

Evan Longoria

If he matches last season's 54 RBI, Longoria will reach 1,000 for his career. He's also 23 homers from 300. Hitting that mark would be huge for the Giants offense. 

[RELATED: Giants open 2019 in middle of pack in MLB Power Rankings]

Bruce Bochy

Finally, there's the man who already has said this will be his final season. Bochy needs 74 wins to become the 10th to reach 2,000 as a manager. 

If the Giants can shake off the last two seasons and finish with a winning record (82-80), Bochy would tie Leo Durocher for 10th all-time in wins. It would obviously be pretty cool for him if he could get sole possession of that 10th spot, and given the state of today's game, it's unlikely that any future manager would ever knock Bochy out of the top 10. 

Finally, there's a goal that seems highly improbable. If the Giants win 90 games, Bochy would walk away with an even .500 record (2,016-2,016). Although if Bochy wins 90 games with this roster, Farhan Zaidi should probably talk him out of retirement.