Little mistakes come back to bite Giants in extra-innings loss to Rockies

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DENVER — Coors Field is the last place in the majors where you come in thinking you’ll get beat by the little things. This park is about altitude-aided homers, flares to the gap that go for doubles, and rallies that chew up pitchers. 

But on Monday night, the first this season in Denver for the Giants, it was about the little things. The Giants, on their way to a 6-5 loss, loaded the bases in the top of the ninth and could not find a way to push a run across. They got two straight singles to open the 10th and could not score. Austin Jackson twice failed to get a bunt down in the latter inning, and instead of having runners on second and third with one out, Jackson bounced into a first-to-third force that erased the lead runner. 

“We were missing a hit,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We left some guys on yesterday and we just couldn’t get a big hit. That was missing tonight.”

Bochy pointed out that Bryan Shaw is tough to bunt on, which is true. But this has been a season-long issue for the lineup and the pitching staff. This is a team that struggles to get bunts down, and there are other little things the Giants do not do well. 

Chief among them, the pitching staff has issued too many walks in tight situations. Hunter Strickland walked Nolan Arenado to open the 10th, and that was the eventual tying run. 

“I can’t walk that guy,” Strickland said. “That’s been an issue and I’ve got to get better at that.”

Arenado then played fundamentally sound ball, tagging up and reaching second on Trevor Story’s fly ball to deep center. With the bases loaded later in the inning, Chris Iannetta hit a bouncer up the middle to bring the winning run across. 

The Giants dropped to 1-5 on this road trip. They also dropped behind the surging Dodgers in the National League West, and down into fourth place. They’re four games back of these first-place Rockies. 

Many of the issues on this three-city trip have been big ones, starting with the rotation. But on Monday night, it was the little things that did them in. 

--- Andrew Suarez gave up three runs in the first but settled in and went five, allowing another unearned run. Suarez struck out six of the final eight batters he faced. He said he made an adjustment after his last start, shortening his stride and simplifying his mechanics. 

It’s possible that Suarez will be optioned soon, with Madison Bumgarner getting close. But if this is one of the last impressions he leaves for the time being, it was a good one. 

“He showed some fortitude tonight,” Bochy said. “I was proud of the kid. We scored two (in the first) and the last thing the pitcher wants to do is give up three. He didn’t cave in.”

--- Speaking of Bumgarner, Bochy said the plan right now is to have him make one more rehab start on Thursday in San Jose. But, he several times said that’s the plan “right now.” The Giants will discuss this again tomorrow and it’s still possible that Bumgarner might return on Friday in San Francisco. 

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