Giants fall back to .500 as bullpen blows lead in Colorado
DENVER — As contenders around the league went searching for relief help ahead of Wednesday’s trade deadline, the Giants’ bullpen represented the treasure chest other clubs were trying to unlock.
No club sat as comfortably on a surplus of arms as the Giants, who owned the best bullpen ERA in the National League and what appeared to be an excess of capable veterans.
President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi understood his peers’ desire to poach from the Giants’ bullpen, and he ultimately obliged. Zaidi didn’t trade three of his top four relievers, but he parted with enough valuable arms to create lingering questions as to how the Giants might survive in the National League wild-card chase.
Two days after the deadline, those questions are burning.
After suffering a blowout loss on Thursday and dropping Friday’s series opener to the Rockies 5-4, the Giants have lost consecutive games for the first time since June 26-27.
The defeat dropped the Giants (55-55) back to .500 and moved them to 3-4 on a pivotal nine-game road trip.
The Giants had the tying run at second base and the go-ahead run at first with two outs in the ninth, but left fielder Mike Yastrzemski bounced into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play to send the Giants to their first one-run defeat since they fell 5-4 in Milwaukee on July 13.
The loss might have been avoided if they had a full stable of pitchers at the ready, but they may never be as rich with relievers as they were in July.
After Yastrzemski pushed the Giants ahead 4-2 with a towering home run to right field in the top of the fifth, San Francisco had a chance to add on later in the sixth following a two-out double from center fielder Steven Duggar.
Instead of summoning a pinch-hitter, manager Bruce Bochy allowed starter Shaun Anderson to hit for himself with two outs in the inning and Anderson grounded out to end the frame. Bochy’s decision was uncharacteristic for a manager who rarely passes up the chance to add to a lead, but it was a reflection of the team’s sudden lack of bullpen depth.
“I was trying to get through that sixth without having to go to the ’pen,” Bochy said.
Following three deadline trades involving four relievers on Wednesday, the Giants entered the weekend series with just 16 pitchers on their 40-man roster.
With Dereck Rodriguez unable to return for 10 days after being optioned following his Thursday outing, Triple-A lefty Conner Menez unavailable after pitching for Sacramento on Thursday and Double-A starter Logan Webb slated to start for Richmond on Friday, the Giants’ pitching depth is even thinner than the numbers suggest.
The Giants’ next off day doesn’t arrive until Monday, Aug. 12, so Bochy placed his faith in Anderson and hoped his starter could finish off the bottom of the sixth.
Instead, Anderson gave up a leadoff single and Bochy elected to remove the right-hander in favor of lefty Sam Selman, who made his major league debut on Thursday against the Phillies. After allowing just three home runs in 47 minor league innings this year, Selman entered and surrendered a game-tying, two-run shot to second baseman Ryan McMahon.