June Swoon: Giants Look For Answers After Sweep by Reds

The Giants wasted yet another outstanding start and were swept in a four-game series at AT&T Park for the first time ever on Sunday when they dropped game four to the Reds 4-0.

Tim Hudson (7-5) was brilliant for the black and orange and gave them exactly what they needed, tossing eight-plus innings and giving up five hits, two earned runs, no walks, and striking out six. He threw 106 pitches, 75 of which were strikes, and left to a standing ovation. It’s the 11th time this year he’s pitched at least seven innings, and his 2.59 ERA is tenth-best in the Majors.

After two starts in which he struggled, giving up 11 earned runs in just ten-and-a-third innings, Hudson was happy to get back on track.

“My delivery felt a lot better today. I felt like my timing was pretty good. You know, it was one or two opportunities for them to score right there, and they took advantage of it.”

The Reds did capitalize on one of their few opportunities to score when Skip Schumaker led off the bottom of the third with a single, and Billy Hamilton blooped a two-out double into right to make it 1-0. With how stagnant the Giants offense has been lately, that tiny deficit was insurmountable. San Francisco has now dropped 12 of their last 14 home games and have been outscored 68-39 in that span.

Homer Bailey (8-4) seems to own the Giants, as he took a no-hitter into the seventh on Sunday. Buster Posey lined a two-out single into right, and Pablo Sandoval followed it up with a bloop into left, but that was all the offense could muster. Almost one year after no-hitting this Giants squad last July, the Reds right hander threw a complete-game shut-out, allowing just three hits, one walk, and striking out seven. He’s now 4-0 lifetime against the Giants in eight starts.

For the second straight game, Cincinnati did their damage against the San Francisco bullpen. After Todd Frazier led off the top of the ninth with a single against Hudson, Jeremy Affeldt came in to relieve him. He balked to move Frazier into scoring position before allowing a single to Joey Votto, a sacrifice fly to Brandon Phillips, hitting Jay Bruce, and giving up two more singles to Brayan Pena and Schumaker. Just like that it was 4-0, and the game was out of reach.

The Giants have now lost four in a row, six of their last seven, and 15 of their last 19, the worst in baseball over that span. They haven’t managed a single hit with runners in scoring position and are now 1-6 on this ten-game homestand with the St. Louis Cardinals coming to town. With the way they’ve been playing, Bruce Bochy says that their lucky to be where they are.

“It’s hard to explain these things. We’ve gotta stay positive, be thankful for our good start. As bad as things are, we should consider ourselves fortunate to be where we’re at, and that’s the way we have to look at it. We’ve got a day off to see if we can regroup and get back on a roll.”

So what happened? With Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt on the disabled list, the line-up is anything but potent. Both players are expected to rejoin the team this week, which should greatly improve the offense and give some pop back to the top of the line-up, and Bochy says being healthy is key.

“This offense will come around. We’ll get a full deck here pretty soon, that’s gonna help. Meanwhile, we’ve got to fight.”

They’d better start fighting soon. Their once nine-and-a-half game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers has been diminished, and both teams are now tied atop the standings in the National League West. Bochy’s hoping that cold hard fact will motivate his guys.

“It’s really unbelievable. If you look at what’s happened the last two weeks you would think we were 15 games back. That’s why we have to look at the big picture and where we’re at, not what’s happened. And we’re in a fight now. It wasn’t gonna be easy, we knew that, and I don’t think anybody was coasting or anything, but the fact that now things have changed a little bit, we’ve gotta come out of this and play at a different level.”

Brandon Crawford knows that it’s all part of the game of baseball. The game giveth and the game taketh away. But he also knows that it’ll all balance out.

“There have obviously been games where we haven’t played very well, but I think we’ve honestly had a little bit of bad luck every once in awhile, too. We’ll get a guy in scoring position, we’ll hit a line drive right at somebody. The other team will get a guy in scoring position, they’ll bloop a hit in. I think that’ll change probably sometime soon, we’ll get the momentum back on our side.”

After a day off on Monday, hopefully the momentum will be back on the Giants side on Tuesday when Marco Gonzalez (0-0, 9.00) will face off against Tim Linccum (6-5, 4.42).