On a gorgeous summer afternoon at AT&T Park, the game was anything but pretty for the Giants as Barry Zito had one of his worst outings of the season. Allowing seven runs on six hits, Zito couldn’t make it out of the fifth as the Mets crushed the Giants 9-1.
After retiring the first two hitters of the game, Zito suddenly lost command of the strike zone, loading the bases on two walks and a hit batsman.
Jason Bay made Zito pay for the free passes knocking a two run single to left center field. The Mets would plate two more in the inning when Roger Cedeno followed with a double to left.
Cedeno’s ball, a line drive towards the left field corner, had a chance of being caught by Melky Cabrera which would’ve limited the first inning damage to just two runs. Cabrera, running at full speed over ran the ball a tad and it hit off his glove as he reached up to make the catch.
Zito gave up another run in the second, and then two more in the fifth before being removed with just one out in the inning.
“My timing was off and so my command was erratic.” Zito continued, “At times it was there but at times the ball was up in the zone and I wasn’t commanding the off-speed [pitches] like I usually am.”
Even more disconcerting than the Giants pitching on Thursday was their hitting. Other than the three hits by Cabrera to log his Major League-leading 48th multi-hit game, the Giants were only able to muster one other hit all day, a triple by Brandon Belt.
The Giants offense has been lackluster since Pablo Sandoval went on the disabled list after straining his left hamstring in a game against the Padres on July 24th.
With much of the lineup mired in a slump, Cabrera and Buster Posey have been carrying the offense for a couple of weeks.
A combination of Sandoval’s injury, moves made by the Dodgers, and the Giants recent struggles to score runs, General Manager Brian Sabean went out and traded for two hitters in the last week, Marco Scutaro from the Colorado Rockies, and Hunter Pence from the Philadelphia Phillies.
So far Scutaro is 1-5 and Pence is 0-2. It’s a small sampling size but the bigger problem remains, the offense doesn’t have the depth to string multiple hits together, and their average with runners in scoring position has been atrocious.
Thursday’s game being a day game after a night game, Manager Bruce Bochy gave Buster Posey the day off, taking another key slugger out of the lineup. Pence and Scutaro went a combined 0-6.
Bochy showed some frustration after the game but also talked about the standings and how the Giants can turn it around and finish the season strong.
“We’ve been awful here this past week, and when you get in these funks they’re not fun. Unfortunately, you do go through them. How we press on through these tough times will determine our season.”
Bochy was very stern and deliberate, almost like he was talking to his clubhouse when he said, “We’re fortunate to be in first place, but we need to start carrying ourselves like it and pick it up here.”
The Giants went 3-7 on the homestand, winning only the first series against the Padres before being swept by the Dodgers and losing three out of four to the Mets.
They head out on a two city, seven game road trip that will take them to Colorado and St. Louis. The Giants remain in first place by half a game over the Dodgers with the Diamondbacks just two games back.
(Unless otherwise noted, all quotes taken first-hand.)