Considering how poorly the San Francisco Giants’ starters pitched over their four-game series in Cincinnati, for the orange and black to notch two comeback wins was a minor miracle.
Amazingly, despite going down 7-1 in the second inning of the finale of Monday’s wraparound series, they might have had a chance to do it again if their relievers hadn’t matched a Major League record by hitting four Reds batters in the bottom of the sixth, allowing the hosts to break the game open with their second five-run inning, leading to a 12-4 win.
On a day that saw Pablo Sandoval do something that hadn’t been done in the Major Leagues, the Giants did something they hadn’t done in recorded history, and finished a weekend that’s not going to be a good rehearsal for a three-game set at mile-high Denver this week.
San Francisco’s loss to the Reds featured a Major League-record-tying four hit batsmen in an inning and an 18-minute delay before the game started thanks to a swarm of bees, which led Cincinnati utility man Derek Dietrich to pantomime a beekeeper. It was only fitting for such a game to end with one last unusual sight, as Sandoval made his second career pitching appearance.
Sandoval became the first player besides Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson in 1905 to record a home run, a steal (his first ever of third base, and 12th of his career) and a scoreless pitching outing in the same game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. His three-run homer in the top of the sixth, a no-doubter to right-center for his third longball of the season, cut the lead to 7-4, but Pat Venditte and Sam Dyson combined to bean four Reds hitters in one frame, and with the help of some shaky defense, the lead grew to the point of no return.
Of course, no longshot comeback bid would have been necessary had San Francisco (15-20) had even gotten half-decent starting pitching, but Drew Pomeranz became the third Giants starter in four days to give up seven runs.
Pomeranz joined the three pitchers who preceded him in giving up at least four within the first two innings. The Reds’ Nick Senzel, called up on Friday, led off with an opposite-field homer on the second pitch and after a Joey Votto infield hit, Eugenio Suarez barely cleared the fences in left to make it 3-0.
Jose Iglesias brought in a fourth run in the first with a triple and scored on Curt Casali’s single. Though San Francisco got one back in the top of the second after a Brandon Belt double and Eugenio Suarez throwing error, Cincinnati (15-20) would strike again in the bottom of the third on another Senzel homer and an Iglesias RBI double that scored Suarez and ended Pomeranz’s day after just an inning and two-thirds. He allowed nine hits on the afternoon.
Sandoval’s three-run homer off Anthony DeSclafani in the sixth was a reminder of Friday’s eight-run comeback and Sunday’s rally from a 4-0 deficit, but the Reds made sure there would be no third comeback.
Suarez was hit by a pitch with one out, Yasiel Puig walked and Kyle Farmer reached on an infield hit that Brandon Crawford couldn’t scoop, a ball that could have gone for an inning-ending double play. Iglesias then hit a ball over Mike Gerber’s head in left for his third and fourth RBI on the day, though it only went for a single as Farmer had waited to see if the ball would drop. Casali then singled in another run to make it 10-4, and back-to-back hit by pitches brought home another run and gave free passes to Jose Peraza and Josh VanMeter, with VanMeter picking up his first career RBI. Dyson then came in and struck Senzel out, but he hit Votto for the fifth run of the inning.
San Francisco pitchers had an ERA of 6.25 over the course of the series. Giants starters starters at the “Great American Small-park,” as Jeff Samardzija called the yard in Cincinnati, had an ERA of 16.71.
On a day in which he homered and stolethe 12th base of his career — swiping third with two outs in the second inning — Sandoval came on in the eighth and helped lighten the load on an overworked bullpen, getting Senzel to ground into a double play after yet another hit by pitch, letting Peraza on board to start the inning.