With top hitters out due to injuries, SF Giants offense goes cold against Cardinals’ Kim

A Giants team that’s missing several of its best hitters due to injury flexed its depth and used a pair of sweet swings from Mike Yastrzemski to trounce the Cardinals on Friday, but in the club’s second game back after the All-Star break, a lineup loaded with fill-ins was no match for St. Louis’ pitching staff.

Cardinals southpaw Kwang Hyun Kim and a quartet of relievers limited a Giants offense that was missing four of its top eight home run hitters to one run in a 3-1 defeat for Gabe Kapler’s club on Saturday at Busch Stadium.

With Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria all on the injured list, a depleted Giants team played Saturday’s game without shortstop Brandon Crawford until he appeared as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning against closer Alex Reyes. Crawford, who exited the series opener in the eighth inning with a left hamstring cramp, drew a four-pitch walk, but was immediately replaced at first base by backup catcher Chadwick Tromp.

Giants manager Gabe Kapler said postgame the Giants are optimistic that Crawford will start Sunday’s series finale.

Kim entered the outing as one of three pitchers to throw at least six innings without allowing a run against the Giants this season and became the first starter to achieve the feat twice with six shutout innings on Saturday. The left-hander gave up three hits and two walks, but kept the ball on the ground and in the park, which is how he bested Giants right-hander Anthony DeSclafani.

DeSclafani fared well through his first five innings, but Cardinals cleanup hitter Tyler O’Neill gave St. Louis an early 1-0 advantage by drilling a slider out to right center field to open the second inning. St. Louis didn’t score again until Paul Goldschmidt’s two-run homer in the sixth, but the first baseman’s 26th career home run against San Francisco felt like a knockout blow because the Giants lineup was unable to give Kim any trouble.

The only strikeout Kim recorded in six innings came with DeSclafani at the plate, but the southpaw dominated the Giants by limiting loud contact as San Francisco only registered four hard-hit balls against him.

“I don’t think he’s similar to most of the pitchers that we face,” Kapler said of Kim, whose four-seam fastball averaged 88.9 miles per hour Saturday. “He feels more like a throwback and a guy that really relies on command and control, the ability to get in the strike zone.”

When the Cardinals turned to the bullpen in the seventh, the Giants immediately put pressure on reliever Ryan Helsley who gave up an unearned run after O’Neill misplayed a Steven Duggar single that allowed Wilmer Flores to score. A one-out single from Thairo Estrada brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate for the Giants, but reliever Genesis Cabrera entered and struck out pinch-hitter Alex Dickerson before inducing a weak groundout from Austin Slater to end the threat.

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Author: Kerry Crowley

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