A two-run ninth-inning rally came up short for the San Francisco Giants. They dropped the second home game of the year 4-3 against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.
Down 4-1 late, the Giants scratched their way back in the bottom of the ninth. Catcher Nick Hundley, who had three hits including two doubles, drove in Hunter Pence with his second double of the night. Eduardo Nunez, who had a four-hit night, knocked in Hundley with a single. In the ensuing at-bat, Nunez stole second to set up a late game shot.
A tale of two outfields
Late game excitement aside, the game came down to two plays that illustrated the wide chasm that exists between the Giants outfield woes and the Diamondbacks outfield wealth.
With the bases loaded and one out in the third inning, Arizona right fielder Jake Lamb got hold of a Jeff Samardzija two-seamer and shot it to the purple Yahoo! sign in left center field. Centerfielder Gorkys Hernandez, starting in place of Denard Span to offset the lefty on lefty matchup with Arizona starter Robbie Ray, appeared to have a beat on the sharp liner. At the last moment, Hernandez came up a few inches short of what would have been a one-run sacrifice fly. Instead, all three runners scored to give the D-Backs a 3-0 lead.
In the post game interview, manager Bruce Bochy defended Hernandez’s overall skill, but rightfully conceded that the play cost the team the game.
“He’s a gifted centerfielder. He just didn’t quite come up with it,” said Bochy. “It wasn’t an easy play, but it looked like he had a shot there… it was the difference in the game probably. You take your chances with him out there.”
The bottom half of the inning provided a cruel twist and contrast between each team’s outfield. Aaron Hill rocked a Robbie Ray fastball about 100 feet to the right of where Lamb’s triple landed. Centerfielder A.J. Pollock showed off his immense range with a fully extended, back to the infield snag. The play robbed Hill of extra bases and a possible Pence score. Pence got on with a walk and appeared to have a good read on what could have been a hit for extra bases.
“Of course they made a great play on us,” Bochy said. “That’s a big swing in that inning.”
Shark stuck in the tank
It was a tough-luck loss for Samardzija, who allowed just the three runs in six and two-third innings. He scattered five hits and struck out seven.
“It is a good night, it was. Six-plus innings, three runs… We make that play, it’s a different game,” Bochy said of his starter. “The one inning, that was a game changer I guess. The three runs. Overall, that’s a nice job.”
While Bochy lamented the Hernandez play, he also pointed out the team’s inability to take advantage of opportunities. The team left a total of 13 runners on base, compared with Arizona’s 10 LOB.
Hernandez again was the goat, leaving a total of three runners in scoring position with two outs. He was about 10 feet short of a grand slam with two outs in the second inning.
In the eighth, Chris Marrero killed a two-on, no-out rally by grounding into a double play. Joe Panik followed up with a RBI double to salvage a run. But with two on and two out, Hernandez swung at a ball in the dirt to kill a second rally.
“We just couldn’t get a big hit. we left too many guys on base,” said Bochy. “We need to start getting some guys in.”