DENVER – At some point, as you watch the Giants lineup roll over 89 mph fastballs and play dead, it strikes you: There were even-numbered years during the Dead Ball Era, too.
Not even a change of scenery to Coors Field could enliven Bruce Bochy’s glacial gang on Monday, and when you add a starting pitcher who issues frivolous walks in this ballpark … well, let’s just hope no Giants fans delayed firing up the Labor Day barbecue because they watched the entirety of a 6-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
Matt Moore gave up a grand slam to Carlos Gonzalez in the third inning, which made the game a lead-pipe cinch for the Rockies given the Giants’ offensive ineptitude.
In fact, swinging lead pipes might have generated more profitable results. A Giants offense that just hit .106 in four games at Wrigley Field was held to two hits, the club’s fewest ever in their 184 games played at Coors Field.
They have been held to four hits or fewer in five consecutive games, a run never before experienced in Giants modern franchise history. (And yes, that includes the Dead Ball Era.)
Giants manager Bruce Bochy already planned to give Brandon Belt (0 for his last 18) the day off and play Buster Posey at first base on Tuesday. Now he’s expected to rest a few more of his struggling hitters against talented Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson.
Kelby Tomlinson for Joe Panik? Mac Williamson for Denard Span, who’s riding an 0-for-20? Why the heck not?
“I mean, we’re better than this,” Bochy said. “You do your work. You do all you can to help out. This thing is contagious, and it’s been here too long. You look for that magic wand, for what to say.
“It was a heck of a series in Chicago (for Cubs pitchers). Whether this is a letdown today, I don’t know. We definitely were flat today.”
Their postseason ambitions will flatline if this continues. Forget about climbing back into the N.L. West race for the moment. The Giants are perilously close to falling out of the wild card standings, too, after losing ground to their two closest pursuers. The Cardinals are a half-game back, and tied in the loss column. The Mets are one game behind the Giants.
The Giants have been in position to make the playoffs every day since May 10. Another 48 hours of this misery, and they could be on the outside looking in.
Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis threw his first career complete game, and the first by a Rockies pitcher this season, and he did it on a tidy 103 pitches – one more than it took the Cubs’ Jon Lester to go the distance against the Giants on Friday.
Bettis, who entered with a 5.17 ERA, had a perfect game until the fifth inning, when Eduardo Nez got a two-out single to fall in left field. Backup catcher Trevor Brown doubled to start the sixth. There were no other baserunners, nobody to drive in. Nothing left to do but drive home safely.
With some credibility, the Giants could bemoan hard outs and a shortage of luck for some of their lean production while going 16-31 since the All-Star break. Not anymore. Not when the bat is being knocked out of their hands.
“We didn’t make very good contact all day,” Bochy said. “There weren’t many balls barreled up. We need somebody to get hot, two or three of your core guys to get it going. That’s missing right now.”
Giants left-hander Matt Moore appeared to pound the zone in the first two innings but abruptly lost the ability to throw a strike in the second inning, and when that happens here, it’s like losing your brakes while descending on the upper corniche.
Moore walked Cristhian Adames to start the third, then issued a four-pitch walk to Bettis as the pitcher was trying to sacrifice. Raimel Tapia followed with a line drive that shortstop Brandon Crawford tried to snare with a backhand attempt an inch or two off the ground. The ball uncharacteristically deflected off Crawford’s glove and into left field for a single that loaded the bases.
DJ LeMahieu hit a sacrifice fly that also advanced both trail runners, and the Giants made the easy decision to issue an intentional walk to their personal tormentor Nolan Arenado, who already has 21 RBIs against them this season.
It was just Arenado’s eighth intentional walk of the season. And if that seemed low, Gonzalez provided a counterpoint. He connected with a shot into the Rockies bullpen.
“There’s no excuse for that third inning,” said Moore, whose only other start at Coors Field came in 2013 with Tampa Bay. “I had plenty of stuff to get the job done.”
Moore did not survive the third inning as he gave up a home run to Nick Hundley, issued another walk and threw a wild pitch.
At least Matt Cain made his fourth career relief appearance a successful one, tossing 2 1/3 scoreless innings. And Left-hander Ty Blach, who hails from suburban Denver, had a memorable major league debut while holding the Rockies to a hit in three scoreless innings.
It was like finding the prize in a box of Cracker Jacks that you’ve fished out of the canal. But it was something, and it preserved a bullpen that used nine relievers in Sunday’s 13-inning loss at Wrigley Field.
It was more valuable than that for Blach, a left-handed rookie whose assistant coach at Regis Jesuit High School was none other than Rockies manager Walt Weiss.