AT&T PARK — The San Francisco Giants are going in reverse. After staying afloat at .500 until they could get Joe Panik, Madison Bumgarner and Brandon Belt back from injury, they’ve now lost four of five games to the Miami Marlins.
Monday’s 5-4 stinker — in which closer Hunter Strickland gave up three runs on three hits and two walks in the ninth — was the sixth loss in the last eight games for San Francisco, which before that, took two of three from the National League East-leading Washington Nationals.
“It just sucked in general,” Strickland said following his fourth blown save of the season.
For the second outing in a row, starter Andrew Suarez has seen a solid start wasted. He’s now thrown 11 1/3 innings against the Marlins in two starts, with 11 strikeouts and just four earned runs, and has come away the winner in neither.
The Giants (35-38) even got several gifts on the day — including on two balls hit by Buster Posey — and a Pablo Sandoval home run on a hung slider — his second in four days as he continues a .286 June — but still found a way to lose to a team tanking as hard as any in the National League. In four out of the last five games against the Marlins, San Francisco starters have had nothing to do with the decision. Still, before Monday, the Giants were 31-0 headed into the ninth with a lead.
“Coming out of the game, I trust the bullpen here,” Suarez said. “We’ve got one of the best bullpens in the league, so coming out of there, you usually get a win. It’s tough, but it happens.”
After Suarez struck out eight in 6 1/3 with just one walk, Sam Dyson got a double play to get out of the seventh, and then pitched a clean eighth, as the Giants handed the ball to Strickland — who’s converted 14 saves this season.
After a walk to right fielder Brian Anderson to lead off the ninth, Strickland hung a slider to J.T. Realmuto — who came in to Monday hitting .295 over the last three seasons against the Giants — which he promptly blistered into left center for an RBI double. Strickland then lost the strike zone, walking first baseman Justin Bour on five pitches.
Cameron Maybin then sent a bleeder up the middle, where Kelby Tomlinson — playing in place of Brandon Crawford on paternity leave — made his second big play of the night, making a sliding stop behind the bag and then flipping to Joe Panik at second for the first out.
With men at the corners, Brinson recoiled from a Strickland fastball at the chin, and then sent a liner to right for an RBI single, tying things up at 4-4. A flare to right by Miguel Rojas brought around Maybin for the go-ahead score.
“That’s unacceptable,” Strickland said. “Suarez went out there and did a heck of a job today. Sammy came in and picked him up, and I let it down … I was probably rushing it a little bit. Nothing seemed to be right and working for me.”
As Strickland was taken off the mound, he detoured near third to jaw with Brinson — who had moved to third on a fielder’s choice — ostensibly for being too showy when he tied the game.
“I don’t know, in the moment, not very happy with myself,” said Strickland.
The Giants got ahead early on a pop-fly double from Buster Posey in the third, followed by a single back through the box from Joe Panik. A front-row homer by Sandoval gave the Giants the early 3-0 lead.
Tomlinson made his return to the big leagues a momentous one in the third, making a sliding backhanded stop on a ball to the hole by Starlin Castro, popping up and firing a strike to first in one motion, to nip the Marlins leadoff man and end the inning.
“He played great, didn’t he?” Bochy said. “Tommy did very well at short. What a nice game he had. To his left, to his right, he really picked us up defensively. For eight innings, we played great baseball.”
The Giants added a run in the third on a bad throw by Rojas on a Posey grounder, which was followed by an RBI single from Mac Williamson.
Miami (29-44) scratched across a pair in the fifth, when a leadoff single by Maybin and a double by Brinson were cashed in on a frozen rope to left by Rojas. Rojas, though, was gunned down on the fly by Williamson, as he tried to turn a single into a double.
“We played well,” Bochy said. “Suarez pitched great, we did some good things, couldn’t tack on — that would have been nice — but still, the way Strick’s been throwing, you take your chances there in that ninth. It just got away from us.”