Giants' offense stays cold in loss
Sanchez allows two hits in six innings, takes defeat
SAN DIEGO -- Bruce Bochy's irritation overflowed Wednesday. Other Giants inevitably will follow, should the team repeat performances like this one.Continuing to struggle with runners in scoring position, San Francisco lost 2-1 for the second night in a row to the San Diego Padres. The Giants' sixth defeat in seven games dropped them below .500 (19-20) and left them 2-5 against San Diego, already matching the number of losses they absorbed against the Padres while dominating them last year (13-5). Bochy wasn't around to witness the conclusion, having been ejected in the eighth inning by first-base umpire Gary Cederstrom after San Diego's David Eckstein was ruled safe on a play in which third baseman Pablo Sandoval's throw pulled first baseman Travis Ishikawa off the bag. Bochy contended that Ishikawa got his foot back on the base before Eckstein crossed it. Television replays confirmed Bochy's view. And Bochy confirmed that Cederstrom's call didn't entirely prompt his outburst. "It was frustration on my part," Bochy said. Bochy's sentiments were well-founded. The Giants are 1-for-22 with runners in scoring position in this series, following Tuesday's 0-for-12 hitting in those situations with a 1-for-10 on Wednesday. The lone hit was Emmanuel Burriss' infield single that drove in San Francisco's only run. Asked if the club's veterans might feel tempted to call a players-only meeting to motivate or awaken teammates, center fielder Aaron Rowand insisted that this isn't necessary. Yet. "We're not playing bad. It's not through a lack of effort," Rowand said. "Obviously, if things continue, then sure. [But] we've had some tough-luck losses. I think if you were going to call a meeting, it'd be about everybody keeping their heads up." Rowand himself did what he could to serve as a catalyst. Batting leadoff for the first time since May 30, 2007, and starting in that spot for just the 60th time in 1,038 Major League games, Rowand went 3-for-4. For at least one night, he bolstered an area that had been one of the Giants' weakest this year. Each of the other Giants who led off more than twice floundered in the role, including Burriss (.148), Fred Lewis (.197) and Randy Winn (.236). Bochy said he made the move "just to shake things up a little bit." The real shakeup will come if the Giants keep slumping offensively. Bochy has tried virtually everything possible with the current roster, fanning speculation that Triple-A first baseman Jesus Guzman, he of the .363 batting average, soon will be summoned. Bochy declined to say whether importing a player or two was imminent.
"I can't answer that now," he said.Though the existing Giants are staying calm externally, they might be growing tense internally. Asked if players are applying undue pressure on themselves, Ishikawa said, "Definitely it's in the back of everybody's mind, the more it [poor hitting] happens." Rowand acknowledged that players could be pressing.
"If anything, guys are maybe putting a little too much on our own shoulders," he said.One Giant immune to this malady was starter Jonathan Sanchez (1-4), who allowed just two hits in six innings. Both proved crucial. Chris Burke hit a two-out RBI double in the second inning and Kevin Kouzmanoff drilled a leadoff homer in the fourth. Sanchez, who relied on his fastball more than in previous games, admitted that he might have thrown one too many to Kouzmanoff, who broke a 1-1 tie.
"I threw a lot inside to him," Sanchez said. "He might have been looking for it."For the first time in 16 games, the Giants lost after opening the scoring -- another example of their rising vulnerability. But Rowand, whose duties as leadoff batter include establishing the offense's rhythm, tried to set the pace mentally by providing historical perspective. "I've been on a couple of teams that lost 10 in a row," he said. "We're nowhere near that yet."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.