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Giants record three hits, waste Stratton’s quality start with loss to Marlins

MIAMI–Fewer than 7,000 patrons took in each of the first two games of San Francisco’s series in Miami, but those that did purchase tickets have witnessed a rather surprising development.

The Giants are unraveling at the hands of the last-place Marlins.

After falling 3-1 on Tuesday, the 33-34 Giants have a losing record for the first time in more than a week.

“We just got shut down offensively,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “They did a job on us. Three hits, that’s not going to work. We had a hard time getting guys on base and just getting something going. That’s the ballgame.”

For the second straight night, the Giants played like a sub .500 team trying to tread water. With two straight defeats to open a four game set, that’s now what they are.

Despite having a starter log seven innings for just the second time in the club’s last 34 games, Chris Stratton’s quality start wasn’t enough to offset a troubling night for the Giants’ offense.

Stratton and third baseman Evan Longoria each lined singles while Hunter Pence reached on an infield tapper scored as a hit, but that was all the production Bochy’s offense managed.

For a Giants club that opened the month of June by winning seven of their first nine and taking series from three different contending teams –the Phillies, D’Backs and Nationals– a significant amount of good will the team drummed up with its fan base has vanished quickly.

After losing three separate leads to fall in Monday’s series opener, the Giants opened Tuesday’s contest by missing a golden opportunity to take control of the game in the first inning. San Francisco did secure a 1-0 lead on a Brandon Crawford RBI groundout, but the Giants failed to push across multiple runs despite having runners on second and third and no one out with the heart of the order due up.

Marlins starter Trevor Richards walked the first two hitters of the game and moved them along 90 feet with a wild pitch, but he fanned Andrew McCutchen on a 3-2 changeup below the strike zone to record his first out. After Miami shortstop JT Riddle robbed Crawford of a hit with a diving stab and throw to first, Evan Longoria bounced out to end an inning that began in promising fashion for the Giants.

“We had them on the ropes there,” Bochy said. “Craw smoked it and they just made a great play. We got one run out of it, but after that, I was surprised because of the way we’ve been swinging the bats.”

The first inning turned out to be the only frame in which the Giants scored against Richards, who entered the night looking for his first career win despite having six career starts under his belt. Richards carried a 5.02 ERA into his outing, and even though he tallied five scoreless innings against San Francisco, he didn’t exactly blow the Giants away with his arsenal.

Richards picked up just five swinging strikes –three alone in a fifth inning at-bat by Pence– and only struck out two Giants hitters, but induced plenty of weak contact to position the Marlins with a chance to lock up the game in the final innings.

“We tried to fight every inning and every at bat,” center fielder Gorkys Hernández said. “When you have a pitcher like that, you have to make adjustments. We tried to make adjustments and nothing happened.”

Richards’ counterpart, Stratton, retired the final 13 hitters he faced in one of his best outings in weeks, but his quality start wasn’t enough to carry a lineup that failed to follow through on its end of the bargain.

Stratton worked through the seventh inning Tuesday and ran into trouble just once, but a three-run third proved to be the right-hander’s downfall in Miami.

“I hate to let that third get away from me there,” Stratton said. “I honestly made some really good pitches there, give them credit, they really battled.”

The Marlins plated the game-tying run on a Starlin Castro RBI single before Riddle ripped a two-run double that ended up deciding the game. Miami hit the ball hard enough to extend its lead, but a diving catch from Pence in left field and a 1-5 double play turned after Stratton snagged a 90-mile per hour line drive took away a single that likely would have led to two more runs.

After catching a break with the line drive double play, the Giants had a chance to cut into the Marlins lead following a one-out walk by Hernández in the top of the fifth. A Stratton sacrifice bunt advanced Hernández into scoring position, but catcher J.T. Realmuto picked off the Giants center fielder at second base to end the inning and punctuate another costly situational mistake.

“If (Joe Panik) hit a single, I would have scored easily,” Hernández said. “But I mean, I would say that’s part of the game sometimes. Picking off at second base or picking off at first base. We learn by making mistakes and we’ll get them tomorrow.”


Source: East Bay Giants record three hits, waste Stratton’s quality start with loss to Marlins

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