ORACLE PARK — On an afternoon in which Oracle Park exceeded its average 2019 attendance by about 1,000 people at 33,860 heads, one of the most popular jerseys in the stadium was that of Madison Bumgarner.
One enthusiastic fan even fastened two pieces of duct tape to the shoulders of her jersey with the words “Don’t” and “Trade” above the embroidered name of the Giants ace.
Two days after Bumgarner dealt the first nine innings in a 3-2 16-inning win over the New York Mets, and less than 24 hours after San Francisco won its seventh game in a row to creep into the plaoff picture, the reason that many had the Giants pegged as deadline sellers was on full display. Despite a ninth-inning flurry, San Francisco’s offense wilted in an 11-4 loss to the Mets.
The Giants are now 22-27 at home compared to 27-23 on the road. With the loss, San Francisco (49-50) fell back below .500, and though they’re still just 2 1/2 games out of the second National League wild card, Saturday’s blowout loss was instructive, serving as a striking demonstration of why the Giants’ recent run – winners of 14 of their last 17 – is likely unsustainable.
Since returning to Oracle Park on Thursday after scoring 40 runs over four games at the notoriously hitter-friendly Coors Field in Denver, the Giants’ bats have gone quiet in three games against New York, scoring eight runs in 35 innings (two of which came in the ninth inning Saturday) and batting .215 (26-for-121) with just seven extra-base hits.
Though the Giants won the first two games of the series – 3-2 on Thursday and 1-0 on Friday – but were carried by stellar pitching in both games. After posting a 1.66 ERA over his last 21 2/3 innings in three starts, Jeff Samardzija finally bucked that trend.
While San Francisco’s inability to score led to only the squad’s first loss in a week, the Giants’ offensive struggles are nothing new. In 2019, San Francisco’s home marks in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS would all rank last in the majors when compared to the overall marks of the other 29 big league squads.
At Oracle Park, the Giants have a slugging percentage (.354) 80 points lower than their road average (.437) and an OPS (.644) more than 100 points lower (.751 away from home).
Though San Francisco’s pitching did the team no favors, the Giants had little reason to believe that they could come back from a lead that kept growing as the game worew on.
For his part, Samardzija was below average by his recent lofty standards, allowing four earned runs over five innings on two home runs and seven strikeouts. Samardzija had been nearly untouchable over his last three starts, posting a 1.66 ERA over 21 2/3 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .169 average. He registered the win in all three starts and leads the Giants in wins on the year.
The Giants bullpen — which Bruce Bochy called one of the best he’s had in San Francisco — had combined for nine innings in the first two games of the series, and with several relievers unavailable, Derek Holland and Ty Blach both allowed the Mets to add to their already-substantial lead in the sixth and ninth innings respectively, together ceding seven earned runs over four innings.
The Giants’ first run came in the fifth inning on an RBI single by Joe Panik, pinch-hitting for Samardzija from the nine hole. With New York leading 4-1, San Francisco would bring the tying run to the plate with two outs when Buster Posey came up with runners on first and second, but Posey grounded out weakly to second base to end the frame.
Alex Dickerson and Mike Yastrzemski hit back-to-back homers in the bottom of the ninth to cut the Mets’ lead to 11-4. It was the fourth pair of consecutive home runs for the Giants this season and extended Dickerson’s current hit streak to five games.
Meanwhile, Pablo Sandoval was one of two Giants hitters to record multiple hits, going 4-for-4. It was a welcome break from his .115 batting average since the beginning of July.
Katherine Seligman offers empathy in the ‘At the Edge of the Haight’