By Connor Buestad
Special to S.F. Examiner
AT&T PARK — On Friday, Brian Sabean, the director of baseball operations for the San Francisco Giants, lamented the fact that his team wasn’t even league average when hiting with runners in scoring position.
On Saturday, the Giants — fifth-worst in the major leagues in scoring — had trouble even getting runners aboard, much less concerning themselves with what to do when they got into scoring position.
San Francisco struck out 16 times and managed just three hits — including an Evan Longoria solo home run — in an 11-inning 2-1 loss to the New York Mets. It was a loss capped by a sacrifice fly by Todd Frazier surrendered by erstwhile closer Hunter Strickland. Strickland — the fifth of five relievers to follow six strong innings from Derek Holland — took his fourth loss of the season.
“Longoria has been swinging the bat well for us lately,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “Our pitchers are putting up zeros and giving us a chance. Obviously three hits isn’t enough support.”
The Giants bats were quiet all afternoon, save for the fourth-inning homer by Longoria — not nearly enough offense to support a great team pitching outing by San Francisco, which saw Holland scatter four hits over his six frames.
“We aren’t going to throw in the towel,” Holland said, in the wake of the Friday trade that sent right fielder Andrew McCutchen to the New York Yankees. “We are going to compete each and every day. You never know with baseball. We all have our personal and team goals that we will continue to work hard for.”
The only run Holland surrendered on the afternoon came in the fifth, when a walk to Brandon Nimmo gave way to a Tomas Nido opposite field double into Triples Alley, which scored Nimmo all the way from first. Holland quickly reclaimed command, getting a ground out and strikeout to keep the game tied at one.
Shortstop Brandon Crawford was sidelined for the second straight day with some soreness in his left knee. In his absence, Alen Hanson played a solid shortstop, which included a heads up pickoff of Todd Frazier in the sixth.
New York starter Steven Matz had the Giants’ number all afternoon, scattering three hits over seven innings, including 11 strikeouts, the only blemish being Longoria’s homer.
Now with 15 home runs, Longoria takes over the team in long balls vacated by the departed McCutchen (who also had 15 before the trade). Brandon Belt (14), Gorkys Hernandez (13) and Brandon Crawford (12) are the only other Giants in double figures for home runs as the calendar moves into September.
Following Saturday’s loss, the Giants are now seven games back in the National League West, looking up at the Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Rockies. The loss also drops San Francisco 8 1/2 back in the Wild Card standings. For the remainder of the month, Bochy’s lineup card figures to have more youth in it going forward. Chris Shaw and Aramis Garcia both made their big league debuts on Friday, and though both sat on Saturday, Shaw is expected to be the everyday left fielder.
San Francisco’s homestand will conclude on Sunday when the Giants’ Chris Stratton (9-7, 4.99 ERA) challenges the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard (9-3, 3.51), before San Francisco heads to Colorado.