ORACLE PARK — For the first time in two weeks, the San Francisco Giants looked like a team whose workload – 14 games in 13 days, including six extra-inning contests – had caught up to them.
During the first six games of a seven-game homestand, the Giants’ continued offensive woes at Oracle Park – collectively slashing .226/.291/.359 – were masked by good pitching and timely hitting to the tune of five wins. In Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs, they had neither.
San Francisco dropped the final game of the three-game set on an afternoon in which they looked understandably tired after playing 69 innings, the equivalent of nearly eight standard games, in six days. The Giants remain one of the hottest teams in baseball, having won 17 of their last 21, but lost ground in the National League wild card race, dropping to 2 1/2 games back of the second wild card.
Though San Francisco was 54-for-238 (.227) at the plate in its previous six games, the Giants (52-51) were hitting the ball when it mattered — going 13-for-48 (.271) with runners in scoring position — and saw its starting pitchers post a 3.00 ERA in 39 innings.
That changed when Tyler Beede (3-4, 4.85 ERA) gave up three home runs in the first four innings and got no help from his offense, which went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
“We had some chances,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “We were missing that one hit to keep the line moving. We just got shut down today.”
Beede took a step back from his recent outings – three straight quality starts – by allowing four runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. Beede did strike out seven, but was ultimately done in by the long ball, as the three home runs he allowed — all of which came on four-seam fastballs — accounted for all four runs. Beede had never given up more than three home runs in a game in his career, and had previously given up three home runs in his past four starts combined.
“Overall those three pitches came back to hurt me,” Beede said, “but I’m happy with the way I was able to compete despite having not my best stuff.”
After throwing eight shutout innings on 89 pitches last time out, Beede labored through the first inning, throwing 25 pitches while serving up a 411-foot solo moonshot to Javier Baez. In his last start, Beede did not throw more than 17 pitches in any given inning.
Beede got tagged again in the third when Kris Bryant got a hold of a belt-high four-seamer and launched a two-run homer over the left field wall. Bryant and Baez — who also scored on the homer — combined to score seven of Chicago’s 12 runs in the series.
Trailing 3-0, the Giants took a run back in the third on a Stephen Vogt RBI single, but the Cubs would quickly restore their three-run advantage in the fourth with another home run, a laser off the bat of Albert Almora Jr. Vogt was the only San Francisco hitter with multiple hits — a pair of doubles — while the Giants as a team managed just five hits.
That the Giants have struggled offensively at Oracle Park is nothing new, despite the fact that they were able to come away with a few dramatic wins. While it makes sense that the Giants would have fewer home runs at home – in one of the larger ballparks in the league – they have hit a staggering 30 fewer homers and 16 fewer doubles in two more games at Oracle Park than they’ve played on the road.
The Giants’ batting average and on-base percentages are 20 points lower at home than on the road, and their slugging percentage is 80 points lower. San Francisco’s home OPS (.649) is also significantly lower than on the road (.751).
Wednesday was just the latest example of this trend and led to the Giants having only one real chance to score late in the game: in the bottom of the ninth with two outs.
With Donovan Solano aboard with a two-out single in the ninth, Alex Dickerson, the Giants’ hottest hitter in July (.413, four home runs, 10 RBIs) despite a balky back and oblique, blooped a single to left to bring the tying run to the plate. Brandon Belt would fly out to Kyle Schwarber on the left field warning track to end the game.
“I don’t feel any reason to hang my head at all,” Beede said. “I tip my cap to a talented lineup that hit some good pitches.”
After facing the NL Central-leading Cubs, the Giants will head on the road for a nine-game trip, starting Friday in San Diego with Jeff Samardzija (7-8, 4.08 ERA) taking the mound.
“We’re excited for this off-day to rest up,” Vogt said, “and pick right back up on Friday.”