PHILADELPHIA — Lined up along the wall of the visiting team’s clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, just outside the windowless room where Bruce Bochy keeps temporary shop, sit the players’ black-and-orange bat bags. Since the Giants arrived in town for their series against the Phillies, these bags have been a forlorn sight, a symbol of the team’s recent two-game skid.
Kept off the board in the first game of the set, and limited to a pair of runs on Tuesday by Aaron Nola and Co., the Giants finally let the bats out of the bag last night, but their 1-for-8 mark with runners in scoring posiiton was not nearly enough for a win, as San Francisco fell 11-3 to drop them to .500 on its current 10-day road trip.
“When you’re not getting hits with runners in scoring position,” manager Bruce Bochy said following the game, “you look flat. We’re just not scoring, and that’s a big part of the problem.”
Right-hander Chris Stratton, making his fifth road start of the season, struggled to command his fastball, striking out seven but walking four. Three of those walks came in the fifth, leading to an early curtain.
“You can’t walk three guys in an inning and expect to get out of it,” Stratton said.
“Walks have killed us,” Bochy said. “You look at all these rallies, and there’s a walk involved. We just can’t seem to get away with them.”
In addition to the walks, the mound was a gaffe-magnet on Wednesday. In the first inning, Stratton committed a throwing error on an attempted pick-off of Odubel Herrera, allowing the runner to take second. Herrera scored on a Carlos Santana double, and Santana, in turn, took third on a Stratton wild pitch. Santana then scored on an RBI single by Maikel Franco. Later, in the Phillies’ six-run sixth, the Giants bullpen yielded two runs on two wild pitches, one each from Pierce Johnson and Derek Law, with Law’s coming on his very first throw.
Philadelphia batted around in the sixth against Law and Johnson, with Johnson surrendering six runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings of work.
“Pierce has been pretty consistent,” said Bochy, “but he had an off-night. Those guys have to hold them there, to give you a chance to come back, but they just kept tacking on, and that’s hard on everybody.”
Dating back to last season, the Giants have now dropped seven of their last nine games to Philadelphia and have been outscored 63-41 over that span.
Attempting to reverse the trend, and perhaps encouraged by his pinch-hit home run on Tuesday night, Bochy inserted Pablo Sandoval into the lineup at the six-hole, another left-handed bat to complement Brandon Belt.
“We’ve been sputtering here the last couple of days, so you try to shake things up a little bit,” Bochy explained. “The Pablo-Belt thing is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while.”
The Pablo-Belt experiment has resulted in two singles thus far. Log on to Facebook tomorrow morning at 10:05, to find out whether that number increases in the fourth and final game of the series.