PHILADELPHIA–In the midst of a 98-loss season in 2017, an early June visit to Philadelphia left a scuffling Giants team dejected as they dropped two of three to the last-place Phillies.
In a season marked by low points, that was rock bottom.
Though the 2018 Giants remain above .500 at 19-18, they certainly anticipate this year’s series at Citizens Bank Park is the most suffering they’ll have to endure.
After an 11-3 loss, their second blowout defeat in three nights, they hope their fortune won’t get worse.
Manager Bruce Bochy’s squad won’t allow its three-game losing streak to shake a big-picture perspective, and considering the Giants opened a 10-game road trip with three straight wins, there’s still plenty of ways for the club to ensure its east coast travels yield success.
Doing so after their last three contests, though, will require remarkable resilience.
“You can look at these three games and let that define what’s happened on the trip,” Bochy said. “But we’re .500 against two pretty good teams and we’ve just got to bounce back. We’ve still got a chance to have a good road trip here.”
When starter Johnny Cueto joined ace Madison Bumgarner on the Giants’ disabled list with a sprained ankle in early April, right-hander Chris Stratton pitched as if he belonged at the top of a rotation rather than a player who had to solidify his job with a strong spring training.
But with Cueto out for at least six-to-eight weeks with an elbow sprain and Bumgarner expected to miss another month, Stratton did not meet the same standards in Wednesday’s defeat.
The right-hander lasted 4 and 2/3 innings and surrendered five earned runs before the Phillies unloaded on rookie reliever Pierce Johnson for six earned runs.
After outscoring the Braves 24-9 over the weekend, the Giants have lost three in Philadelphia by a combined score of 24-5.
“You’re talking about just the oppo happening,” Bochy said. “Give them credit. They’re pitching well. You’re not quite pitching as well and you’re not getting hits with runners in scoring position. You look flat.”
Two outings after Stratton allowed a career-high six runs in 1 and 1/3 innings against the Dodgers, the Phillies became just the second team to tag him for more than three earned runs in a start in his career.
“I guess you would say (Stratton) is one of our established guys,” Bochy said. “He’s been throwing the ball well, had one hiccup, but they got the timely hits. We’re hoping to get six out of him but he just couldn’t get through that fifth.”
The Giants’ offense did little to ease mounting concerns over back-to-back rough nights as San Francisco didn’t score against starter Nick Pivetta. Pivetta needed 29 pitches to escape the first inning, but after allowing a pair of one-out singles, the right-hander struck out Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria to end the frame.
A failure to make Pivetta pay for first-inning location mistakes proved costly, especially considering Pivetta surrendered six earned runs in one inning of work in his last start. Once the second-year right-hander settled in, he cruised against a Giants’ lineup that has struggled to make contact all series.
Pivetta easily outdueled Stratton, who allowed a pair of runs in the first after recording two quick outs to lead off the inning.
Phillies first baseman Carlos Santana continued to crush Giants pitchers as he provided an RBI double in the first inning before delivering a two-run single to knock Stratton out of the game in the fifth. For good measure, Santana greeted reliever Derek Law with a two-run single in the sixth.
Santana entered the series with a .169 average and 13 RBIs and will start Thursday’s game with a .189 mark and 23 RBIs.
The first time Cueto joined Bumgarner on the disabled list, Stratton threw seven innings of scoreless ball to quiet the Padres at Pecto Park. The former first round draft pick’s ability to shut down the Diamondbacks with seven more innings the day after Cueto returned in a 1-0 loss helped keep the Giants afloat, but this time, Stratton couldn’t put an end to the Giants’ losing streak.
“I just think overall I didn’t do a good job of commanding the fastball today,” Stratton said. “That put us in some bad counts and you just can’t walk people. I don’t know how many three-ball counts I had today but I feel like it had to be a lot.”
The three-game skid is the third the Giants have suffered this year, but San Francisco has yet to lose four in a row.
After back-to-back off nights from the Giants’ offense, Bochy attempted to shake up the lineup by sending Brandon Belt out to left field and starting Pablo Sandoval at first base.
The maneuver didn’t provide the type of spark the Giants were hoping for, though, as Sandoval finished the night 1-for-4 with an error.
Despite being taken out with a double switch in the sixth inning, Longoria recorded a multi-hit game as he laced a double off the top of the left center field wall in the top of the fourth before doubling down the line to drive in Belt in the sixth.
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