AT&T PARK — Before Wednesday afternoon’s game, Bruce Bochy admitted that waking up in second place could prove to be a wake-up call for his struggling club.
“You know what, it could be,” the San Francisco Giants manager said. “I know that’s been talked about a little bit now that we’re in second place.”
Instead, all it led to was yet another one-run loss — the team’s eighth such defeat of the second half.
Even as the narrow losses keep mounting, Brandon Crawford insisted that the Giants aren’t reaching a mental breaking point.
“I don’t feel that way,” Crawford said. “We come back out here the next day ready to win a game — no matter what we did the past week or what we did last night.”
In the ninth, Crawford stepped to the plate with the winning run standing 90 feet away. Having already produced three two-out RBIs earlier in the day, Crawford couldn’t find a way to drive in a fourth.
“They did a heck of a job there at the end,” Bochy said after Crawford’s flyout to center sent the club to a 6-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. “They just couldn’t get it [done].”
During Bochy’s pregame press conference, the manager wasn’t ready to say if the team would skip Matt Cain’s next start.
“We haven’t made that call yet,” the manager explained. “But I’ll let you know here soon.”
By bumping Cain, the Giants could line up Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore for their three-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers next week. Getting Moore into the series would be especially smart, as the Dodgers own the third-worst OPS against left-handers in baseball.
A couple of hours after Bochy hedged, Cain’s disastrous fifth inning made the decision a whole lot simpler. The Giants entered the frame with a 4-0 advantage, but neither Cain nor the lead would survive it.
“With everything that’s going on, we didn’t need that to happen today,” Cain said. “That’s a bad job by me.”
The veteran right-hander began the inning by hitting David Freese before issuing three consecutive walks, allowing the Pirates to score their first run.
Pinch-hitter Matt Joyce cut the Giants’ lead to 4-3, delivering a two-run single past a diving Joe Panik. Joyce’s hit was one of just two the visitors would manage in the six-run fifth. The other left the park.
“I felt like he had enough to get out of that tied,” Bochy said after Andrew McCutchen’s two-run homer gave the Pirates a lead they wouldn’t give back. “Obviously, I stuck [with him] a little too long there.”
Cain had retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced before the fifth. The only one he didn’t was Pirates starter Ivan Nova who snuck a ground-ball single in between Eduardo Nunez and Crawford.
Afterwards, Cain explained it would sting to miss his next turn, but said he understood why the move was under consideration.
“Those are big games in L.A. and those are the games you look forward to and you compete in,” Cain said. “But we’ve got to do whatever we’ve got to do right now. We’ve got to find ways to get back on the right track.”