Giants Observations

What we learned as Giants' late collapse ends in bad loss to Pirates

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The red-hot Giants through eight innings looked like they were easing their way to extending their win streak to five consecutive games to begin a six-game road trip.

And then the ninth inning happened in the Giants’ 7-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday at PNC Park.

Giants reliever Luke Jackson had a four-run lead to begin the ninth and needed one pitch to record the first out of what was supposed to be the final inning of the night. But a walk and double brought in closer Camilo Doval, who walked his first batter, was the recipient of a costly Marco Luciano error with the bases loaded and blew the save as the Pirates tied the game up on Oneil Cruz’s double down the right field line.

Cruz’s three hits had exit velocities of 121.5, 120.4 and 116.3.

Erik Miller on the first pitch of the bottom of the 10th inning allowed a walk-off single up the middle.

Starting pitcher Logan Webb gave up two earned runs on six hits over six innings. Webb also struck out six and had only one walk. Tuesday was Webb’s third straight game going at least six innings, and he now has done so in eight of his 11 starts this season. 

While Webb was able to get through six innings, the Giants’ offense made Pirates starting pitcher Martin Perez sweat all night. Perez threw 98 pitches in 4 1/3 innings, and only 57 percent were strikes. He walked three Giants and battled through multiple long at-bats. 

Here are three takeaways from a rough Giants loss.

Up-And-Down Fifth Inning

The Giants gave themselves a three-run lead in the fifth inning. First, Jorge Soler led the inning off and put Perez in his eighth 3-2 count of the day before walking, and then Thairo Estrada followed by hammering a two-run homer on a cutter that didn’t cut. 

Estrada’s shot went 397 feet, had an exit velocity of 103.1 and would have been a homer at all 30 ballparks. 

Eight Giants batted in the fifth inning. They knocked Perez out of the game after only 4 1/3 innings. The Giants also had the bases loaded with only one out and whiffed at a big opportunity. The results were two straight pop outs to infielders to end the top half of the inning.

Webb allowed one earned run in the bottom half of the inning, showing how important Estrada’s two-run blast was. Even more important, as the Giants learned later, was leaving the bases loaded and getting nothing out of it in two straight at-bats.

Matos’ Encore

Matos on Monday was named the National League Player of the Week, the first Giant to earn the honor since Brandon Belt in 2018. He then followed up the honor by perfectly executing the little things in the first inning on Tuesday. 

The 22-year-old kept his hands back on a two-strike changeup and was able to knock a single up the middle, moving Thairo Estrada from first base to third. Two batters later, it looked like Estrada would be stuck 90 feet from scoring. But Cruz lost a Wilmer Flores fly ball in the sun, allowing not only Estrada to score but also Matos, who was sprinting around the bases -- perfect heads-up baseball on display by Matos. 

Matos in his second at-bat worked a 3-2 count and took a walk on six pitches. It was his first walk this season in his ninth game played. He grounded out in his third at-bat and hit a deep fly out to left-center in his final trip to the plate.

His fly out went 374 feet, had a 99.8-mph exit velocity and would have been a homer at one park – Wrigley Field.

McKenna Makes Giants Debut

On the same day Matos was named NL Player of the Week, the Giants made a waiver claim for outfielder Ryan McKenna. The Baltimore Orioles recently had DFA’d McKenna, opening a door for him with the Giants, who suddenly had a 40-man roster spot as Jung Hoo Lee heads to the 60-day injured list due to season-ending shoulder surgery. 

But McKenna’s Giants debut wasn’t exactly one to remember. 

McKenna in his first at-bat saw six pitches before striking out on the perfect description of a pitcher’s pitch. Perez placed a 93-mph fastball right on the inside corner, freezing McKenna for the first out of the second inning. McKenna again saw six pitches in his second at-bat, but ultimately popped out to second baseman Nick Gonzales. 

When McKenna’s spot in the order came up the third time, he wasn’t the one walking to the plate. Mike Yastrzemski was. With right-handed reliever Luis Ortiz replacing Perez, Giants manager Bob Melvin sent Yastrzemski, a lefty, up for McKenna. He popped up to first baseman Connor Joe instead of playing the numbers game right and driving in a run. 

The next four starters the Giants are expected to face are right-handed, meaning the next start McKenna is likely to get will be Sunday against former Giants pitcher Sean Manaea in New York.

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