AT&T PARK — Current San Francisco Giants hitters came in to Friday’s game hitting .351 against San Diego Padres starter Clayton Richard in 174 career at-bats. Buster Posey was hitting .375 with a pair of homers in 32 career at-bats. Shortstop Brandon Crawford — having the best year of his career — was hitting .381 in 21 at-bats.
The last time Richard faced San Francisco, the Giants touched him up for six earned runs on eight hits. On Friday, though, the Giants managed just three hits in six innings against the left-hander. When paired with two costly fielding mistakes, they didn’t have much going in a 6-2 loss to the Padres.
“Tonight,” manager Bruce Bochy said, “we hurt ourselves.”
In the top of the sixth, with the game tied 1-1, San Diego third baseman Cory Spangenberg sent a high chopper over the first base bag.
Posey — getting a night off behind the plate — made a stretching backhanded stop and flipped to a slow-covering Chris Stratton. Spangenberg was ruled out, but after a 32-second review, the call was reversed.
“The biggest play of the game was me not getting over to first base,” Stratton said. ” … You just can’t be late, and that ended up creating a big inning. It ended up losing us the game. That’s 100 percent on me. Spangenberg’s got some good speed, and we practice it all the time, we preach it. No matter if it’s foul or not, you’ve got to start heading that way.”
Stratton thought the ball would slice foul, off the bat, causing his delay. That one lapse negated the six strong, walk-less innings he threw, despite a high pitch count of 98.
With shortstop Freddy Galvis at the plate, Stratton spiked a breaking ball. Catcher Nick Hundley took ball off the mask, looked left, then looked down, found the ball, and as soon as he threw the ball to second, bent over at the waist, showing disappointment in himself.
Sure enough, Spangenberg came home as the ball sailed left of the bag and out of the reach of Alen Hanson.
“We had him,” Bochy said. “They could have covered, but Nick just yanked the throw to the left.”
A pair of singles later, the Padres had a 3-1 lead, and the Giants could do nothing against Richard.
“We just couldn’t do much offensively,” Bochy said. “Hit a lot of groundballs, and that’s what he induces, with that sinker. It’s hard to get much going offensively.”
Richard had allowed opposing batters to hit .285 in March and April, to the tune of a 5.35 ERA in six starts, but over his last three heading into Friday, he’d gone 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA. That was the pitcher the Giants ran into. Crawford went 0-for-2 against Richard. Posey went 0-for-3. The Giants as a team grounded out 11 times against Richard, with just one fly out.
“He’s been pitching a lot better,” Bochy said. “He hits his spots, kept it down, has a lot of movement on that sinker, and the breaking ball and the changeup. He keeps it down, and we smothered a lot of balls. He’s been on a pretty good roll … We smothered a lot of balls.”
Aside from a first-inning double by Gorkys Hernandez, a two-out double in the sixth by the very same Gorkys Hernandez, and the seventh-inning single that knocked him out, Richard didn’t allow any other offense, save for some limited station-to-station action in the first that brought Hernandez in to score.
San Francisco got a run back with a rally in the seventh, when McCutchen’s single to left chased Richard. After two different relievers retired pinch hitter Brandon Belt and shortstop Brandon Crawford, Mac Williamson drew a six-pitch walk. Pablo Sandoval rolled a single through the right side to bring McCutchen home, but Alen Hanson flied out to left to strand the tying run at third.
Joe Panik came up with an eighth-inning pinch-hit single, and a wild pitch got him to second with two outs, but he, too, was stranded.
In contrast, when Pierce Johnson and Will Smith loaded the bases in the top of the ninth, the Padres pounced. Back-to-back singles from Jose Pirela and Eric Hosmer — an excuse-me two-strike check-swing flare to left — brought home three, and sent fans streaming for the exits.Andrew McCutchenchris strattonClayton Richardgorkys hernandezMLBSan Francisco Giants