SAN FRANCISCO — Sometimes it’s not about who you put through waivers, it’s when you do it.
The Giants intended to be busy during the August waiver wire period, and while they haven’t outright said it, it’s clear that they will dump salary if they feel their hopes of contention are over. Players know as much, and have started to talk about the possibility in recent days.
When, though, do you wave that flag? Often times, teams will put a player through when they feel they can get him to a specific team. Sometimes they’ll do it in response to a specific stretch of baseball.
If ever there was a loss calling for some changes, it was Thursday’s. The Giants fell 10-5 to the Pirates, trailing by eight runs late after an implosion by the bullpen and infield defense. To top it off, they once again made the opposing starter look like Cy Young, failing to get a hit until the fifth inning against Ivan Nova, who is hardly a Charlie Morton or Dallas Keuchel.
The Giants have played three games on this important homestand and lost them all. In two of the games, they have failed to get a hit through three innings, something they seemingly do every other night. Bruce Bochy has noticed.
“We’ve talked about how important it is to try to get going early. That’s been an issue,” Bochy said. “The guys are aware of it but it’s not an easy solution. We have been shut down to often in the first four or five innings.”
To combat that, Bochy moved four veterans — Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Evan Longoria and Brandon Crawford — to the top of the lineup. He hoped that would lead to an early spark. On Thursday, the four combined for one hit.
“When it’s early in the game and you don’t get anything going, it doesn’t look like you have any energy,” Bochy said.
The back end of the lineup finally fired things up in the fifth, getting within one. But two innings later, Joe Panik and Evan Longoria made errors to kickstart a five-run inning for the Pirates. Ballgame. Longoria has 14 errors, his most since 2011. Panik has seemingly been a step late for much of the past few months, and his average dipped to .233 Thursday night.
The Giants will have a decision to make this offseason with Panik, who is arbitration-eligible and now finds himself among a crowd at second base. They have a lot of decisions to make with this group, which could lose two or three veterans by the first of September. You can bet they were up late Thursday trying to figure out when to make those decisions.