Giants manager Gabe Kapler witnessed his team scratch across just two runs in a measly four-hit showing. He saw an eight-inning, 12-strikeout masterpiece from his starter, Kevin Gausman, merely earn a no-decision. He watched the Giants surrender two runs in the 11th to lose the game 3-2.
Still, in defeat, Kapler noted the positives from the Giants’ loss outweighed the negatives on Friday night. He felt their mistakes were mendable ones. And at 23-15 on the season, the Giants are still in first place in the NL West.
“I thought our guys were gritty and resilient,” Kapler said. “The ending is super (lousy), but I really feel like a lot of the guys did good work.”
Things began to unravel for the Giants in the home half of the ninth inning when Gausman emerged from the dugout to pitch the ninth inning and was immediately greeted by traffic on the bases. The first two Pirates hitters reached on singles, putting runners on the corners with nobody out, prompting Gausman’s removal from the game. And before closer Jake McGee could strike out the side, the lefty allowed a single that brought the tying run home.
After the Giants pulled ahead in the 11th on an Austin Slater RBI single, the Pirates rallied for two to win.
Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier started the inning with a triple, bringing in the automatic runner to tie the game 2-2. Right fielder Gregory Polanco delivered the winner with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly off Giants’ lefty Caleb Baragar. That ended Baragar’s franchise-record 30-game streak without an earned run. The sacrifice fly came after the Giants loaded the bases with two intentional walks.
Asked if he would approach the situation differently, Kapler said no. He and the rest of San Francisco’s coaches wanted the Baragar to face Polanco, a lefty.
“He put a good swing on that ball and drove it and won the game,” Kapler said. “But we were looking to face Polanco and (Pirates utility player Erik) Gonzalez.”
Between late-game pitching decisions that led to Pirates runs and a lack of San Francisco offense throughout the game, the Giants were unable to capitalize on Gausman’s performance.
The veteran right-hander retired the first nine Pirates hitters in order and utilized his sharp splitter to generate swings and misses at balls outside the zone. The 30-year-old became the first Giants pitcher to strike out 12 since Madison Bumgarner punched out 14 on July 10, 2016.
“It was a game he poured his heart into, he pitched brilliantly,” Kapler said.
Kapler was encouraged by what he saw from Gausman, who told reporters after the game that he pulled off the career night without his best stuff.
“The outcome was pretty good but it was a grind,” Gausman said. “Just physically, I felt like I couldn’t find my delivery. I just felt out of whack.”
The Giants’ 15th loss of the season hardly fell on Gausman’s shoulders. In addition to eight great innings, he was the only San Francisco player to record a base hit through six innings before first baseman Brandon Belt hit a single in the seventh. Brandon Crawford homered in the eighth for the Giants’ first run, his eighth of the year.
Crawford was just a day removed from having to sit out of a game because of side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, all of which had subsided by game time. If anything, the PNC Park batter’s eye was more of a nuisance on Friday afternoon and Crawford believes it led to his team’s lackluster performance at the plate.
“A lot of guys were saying it was tough to see and that could have played into it a little bit,” Crawford said.
“When the sun’s reflecting off of it, it is pretty bright.”
The Giants will try to find their footing at the plate in PNC Park on Saturday at 3:35 p.m. PT. Right-hander Johnny Cueto is expected to start for San Francisco and lefty Tyler Anderson, who owns a 3.05 ERA this year, is the listed starter for the Pirates.
“We feel pretty good in the clubhouse,” Crawford said. “Obviously not as good after a loss like that but we feel pretty good. We haven’t really let any of our losses pile on and we plan to come out here and play tomorrow.”
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Author: Jacob Rudner