The San Francisco Giants erased a deficit of at least seven runs for the second time in less than a week on Thursday in snowy Colorado, but unlike last Friday in Cincinnati, they were unable to finish the job, losing an incredible 12-11 game that took nearly four hours on Thursday at Coors Field.
Derek Holland became the fifth Giants starter to get shelled in the early innings in the past week, giving up seven runs on a trio of home runs and nearly allowing a fourth longball that ended up foul by a hair, but Tyler Austin’s first two longballs in a San Francisco uniform allowed the Giants to draw even at eight, and the visitors made one last push even after the Rockies opened up another three-run lead before finally leaving the tying run in scoring position in the ninth.
With considerable snow falling, Holland served up a two-run blast to Nolan Arenado, the 10th of the year for the Colorado star, and Mark Reynolds followed with a solo shot. The hosts weren’t going to settle after sending nine men to the plate in the first inning, with Arenado’s bid for a second homer confirmed by review as foul by inches. He settled for a walk and scored on a two-run double from Reynolds, and the struggling Ian Desmond hit a two-run homer to give Colorado (17-20) a 7-0 lead.
Austin woke up the Giants offense with a two-run home run off Kyle Freeland in the top of the third, and though Holland was removed with two outs in the bottom half of the inning, San Francisco (16-21) was able to capitalize on poor defense in the fourth to cut the lead to two. After a Kevin Pillar double, Desmond whiffed on Brandon Crawford’s well-struck fly ball to right-center, allowing Pillar to score and taking Crawford all the way to third.
Donovan Solano knocked Crawford in, and when Raimel Tapia dropped a Steven Duggar fly ball to left, loading the bases with Austin at the plate representing the potential go-ahead run. He grounded into a force out to Arenado, but cut the lead to two, and even though Arenado singled in his third RBI of the day in the fifth after back-to-back Tyler Beede walks, Austin would get another opportunity in the sixth and delivered. Bryan Shaw walked both Beede and Duggar, and Austin tied the game with a majestic 441-foot blast to left-center.
Though Beede was able to draw the free pass that helped the guests tie the game, he’d be on the hook for the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth after a Tapia double. Bruce Bochy then called on Mark Melancon with Tapia in scoring position, and after walking Desmond, he allowed a two-run double to Chris Iannetta to pull the Rockies back ahead. Daniel Murphy’s pinch-hit single off Austin’s glove at first made it a three-run inning, momentarily putting hopes of a zany Giants comeback to bed.
Still, in true Coors Field fashion, it wasn’t over. With hard-throwing right-hander Carlos Estevez on the mound in the top of the eighth, Stephen Vogt’s pinch-hit double cut it to 11-9 and, if not for a diving snag on a soft liner by Arenado, Austin could have had a seventh RBI to make it a one-run game. Instead, Colorado got one more insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, getting a two-out double by Charlie Blackmon and an RBI single by Trevor Story off Sam Dyson.
As it turned out, that run would be critical. Wade Davis got the first two outs of the ninth by striking out Evan Longoria and Mac Williamson, but a Pillar single and Crawford RBI double cut the lead to two. Joe Panik knocked Crawford in with a single to right and took second on what was labeled defensive indifference, meaning any hit to the outfield by Vogt likely would have been enough to tie the game. Vogt struck out on a pitch in the dirt to end the game and leave the Giants with a split on the road trip, one that had no shortage of excitement for the offense but no shortage of headaches for the pitchers.