The San Francisco Giants have a strikeout problem. After striking out 10 or more times in four straight games against the Philadelphia Phillies earlier this week, they looked destined for a fifth on Friday, striking out five times in three innings against Pirates starter Jameson Taillon.
San Francisco, in a 2-0 hole thanks to a first-inning two-run homer by Starling Marte, mounted a brief comeback, but that hope made the final tally all the crueler. After a brief two-run outburst in the fourth, the Giants fell silent against a parade of Pittsburgh relievers, striking out 14 times in a 11-2 loss.
Taillon — picked one spot after Bryce Harper in the 2010 MLB Draft — allowed one hit and one walk on 51 pitches, sitting at between 94 and 96 mph for each of his 40 fastballs, before a reported finger laceration sat him down before the start of the fourth.
Lefty reliever Steven Brault gave up a leadoff double to Buster Posey and then issued just the fourth walk of the season to Evan Longoria. Brandon Crawford — who had 15 hits in his last 37 at-bats coming into the series — then struck out swinging, but Alen Hanson walked to load the bases, setting the stage for Austin Jackson.
Jackson, who came in hitting .221 after being one of the Giant’s major offseason signings, lined a 94-mph, 0-2 fastball into right for a two-run, game-tying single. That turned out to be all the offense San Francisco could muster.
In the bottom of the frame, San Francisco starter Andrew Suarez surrendered a single to the right side by Sean Rodriguez on a well-placed sinker, then a one-out triple to Jordy Mercer. Then came the big blow — a 1-2 fastball up and in to Jose Osuna hammered for a 420-foot home run left in the 25-year old’s 11th plate appearance of the season. It was the second of four home runs for the Pirates on the night.
Suarez — like each of the last four Giants starters — failed to get into the fifth inning.
After seeing an Edgar Santana two-seamer run inside by more than a foot in the top of the sixth, third baseman Evan Longoria laced a 96-mph fastball from Santana into left for a single. Crawford followed with one of his own. Santana then retired Hanson and Jackson on fly outs, and got pinch hitter Pablo Sandoval swinging at a 96-mph fastball tailing middle-away for the Giants’ ninth strikeout of the night.
San Francisco loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, but former Pirate Andrew McCutchen grounded into a fielder’s choice to strand three. On the evening, the Giants went 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position, stranding 12.
The Pirates added to their lead in the bottom of the sixth, when Colin Moran blasted a 2-2 Cory Gearrin fastball down the middle off the wall in center for an RBI double. Moran was hosed by McCutchen when trying to score on a single from Max Moroff, ending the inning.
McCutchen got two standing ovations before striking out in his first at-bat at PNC Park as a member of any team other than Pittsburgh. He went 1-for-5 at the plate with two strikeouts and a double in his return.
The Giants have now struck out 69 times over the past five games: 12, 17, 11, 15 and 14 times, respectively.
In the bottom of the seventh, Josh Bell got his arms extended on a fastball from reliever Jose Valdez — the fourth of six Giants pitcher of the night — and turned it around 432 feet to dead center for a two-run home run.
Moroff drove a three-run homer the other way in the bottom of the eighth against former Pirate reliever Tony Watson.Andrew McCutchenAustin JacksonBrandon CrawfordBuster Poseycory gearrinEvan LongoriaMLBPittsburgh PiratesSan Francisco Giantstony watson