Nick Ahmed

Defensive miscues doom Giants in second consecutive loss to Guardians

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Despite another strong offensive performance from outfielder Michael Conforto and a solid outing from starting pitcher Hayden Birdsong, a series of defensive miscues doomed the Giants in a 5-4 loss to the Cleveland Guardians on Sunday at Progressive Field.

Birdsong had another consistent outing, holding the Guardians scoreless until the fourth inning and allowing just two earned runs over 4 2/3 innings. The 22-year-old was pleased with his performance after striking out five.

“I felt really good,” Birdsong told reporters. “I was hitting spots that I needed to and throwing pitches in counts that I needed to. I was hoping I could keep doing that, but I fell behind a little bit in that fourth [inning] quite a bit, it was like 2-0, 1-0 right off the bat and obviously facing hitters like those guys … and things happen, those guys can hit. But I’m happy we could work out of it and keep the lead.”

The Giants struck first with a two-run blast from Conforto, who continued his recent hot streak after working his way back into the lineup from injury last month.

Unfortunately, San Francisco’s bullpen struggled to contain Cleveland’s bats, with two big defensive mistakes in the sixth inning opening the door for a Guardians comeback.

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Andrés Giménez hit what looked like a routine lineout to Nick Ahmed, who was unable to make the catch. With Tyler Freeman connecting on a similar single, the Guardians had two runners on when Bo Naylor blasted a three-run home run to put Cleveland on top for good.

Manager Bob Melvin summed up the overall sentiment nicely, explaining how the team has been in every game during its recent six-game road trip.

“I thought we played well,” Melvin told reporters. “Like you said, we’re in every game. Obviously, when we have a lead late we expect to win. With a .500 trip, we would have liked to have been one game better.”

Still, there was an air of disappointment at being so close in back-to-back games against the Guardians, who continue to excel at home. With the win today, Cleveland owns the best home record in MLB at 30-11.

San Francisco has Monday off, during which the team will hold a public celebration of life for Willie Mays at Oracle Park, before welcoming the Toronto Blue Jays for a three-game series on Tuesday.

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