San Francisco, CA – The month of May was extraordinary for the Giants. They recorded eight shutouts last month, all of which came here at AT&T Park. San Francisco was the only team in the National League to tally at least eight shutouts at home in one calendar month. Despite two recent losses the Giants still won 13 of their last 17 games and 16 of their last 23.
But tonight their skid continued as they fell 4-3 to the Pirates. San Francisco lost their third consecutive game to start the month of June. Many would refer to the month as “June Swoon”. The Giants have been known to play bad baseball in June but it’s too early to give San Francisco the moniker. There’s still a lot of baseball left to turn things around.
“I just made too many mistakes in the fifth,” said Ryan Vogelsong. “They’re always great (when asked about the defense tonight). You kind of get used to it. [Angel] Pagan made an unbelievable catch. [Hunter] Pence made an unbelievable catch.”
Andrew McCutchen was robbed of two opportunities to record multiple RBI’s because the Giants defense shut him down. Both Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence denied McCutchen extra runs in the third and fifth innings. Pagan lunged for McCutchen’s fly ball that looked like it would sail to score in a few runs with the bases loaded. As a result his sacrifice fly drove in only one run.
Pence picked up speed to outrun McCutchen’s fly ball to right field in the fifth resulting in another sacrifice fly to tie the game 2-2. Chris Stewart led off the inning with a double, Gerrit Cole reached first on a fielder’s choice and Harrison was hit by pitch. Vogelsong issued a free pass to Gregory Polanco to load the bases again. McCutchen drove in Cole, and Walker followed with a double to score in both Harrison and Polanco giving Pittsburg a 4-2 lead.
“A lot of good things happened. We had two plays in the outfield. Angel, saved some runs along with Pence’s play,” said San Francisco’s manager Bruce Bochy. “We made one mistake there. Against a guy like we faced tonight, you have to execute. We just couldn’t quite do it but our defense saved us from letting that game get away.”
The Giants got on the board early. Brandon Belt cleared the bases in the first giving San Francisco a 2-0 lead. Nori Aoki lead off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Pence reached first safely on a throwing error by shortstop, Jung Ho Kang. With two on, Cole struck out Buster Posey but gave up a double to Belt to drive in two runs before forcing Brandon Crawford to fly out.
Cole yielded a pair of unearned runs before shutting down the Giant’s offense. He was named the National League’s Pitcher of the Month for April and has thrown six or more innings allowing two-or-fewer runs in each of his last five starts, posting a 1.53 ERA during that span. His eight wins are tied for the most in the Majors. Cole scattered five hits over seven frames, striking out nine.
“He’s having a great year, and he’s got the stuff to pitch out of that jam in the sixth,” Bochy said. “That was pretty much our undoing. We had two good hitters up, and he made the pitches to stop it.”
San Francisco had a chance to tie the game in the eighth but a Pirates fan interference robbed the Giants of a potential run. Pittsburgh challenged that a fan interfered with outfielder Polanco’s attempt to catch Posey’s fly ball in foul territory.
Prior to that play, Pence grounded out and Aoki scored to cut the lead down to one. With two outs in the inning, the call was reviewed and overturned ending the frame. By MLB rules, if a fan interrupts play, that’s an automatic out and the fan is ejected. The fan was ejected before helping his team end the inning nixing any possibility for the Giants to score.
“How about the irony that the game has and the guy had a Pirate jersey on,” said Pittsburgh’s manager Clint Hurdle. “I don’t know if he thought he could make the catch and hand it to Gregory or maybe help Gregory. It was the right call.”