After the first two games of the 2014 season, it’s already apparent the San Francisco Giants are similarly flawed as last year’s team.
While the Giants boast an offense capable of putting up crooked numbers on the scoreboard, they don’t perform well in clutch situations in part because of an offensively-challenged bench. The Giants blew a four-run lead en route to suffering their first loss of the season against the Arizona Diamondbacks because of poor middle relief, failure to come up with a big hit in the clutch and questionable managerial decisions.
Manager Bruce Bochy made two costly gaffes that ultimately fueled the Giants’ defeat. Bochy unnecessarily challenged a pickoff play in the bottom of the fourth inning with D’Backs outfielder A.J. Pollock at first base. The play was ruled inconclusive. Pollock later scored on a passed ball, narrowing Arizona’s deficit to one run at the time. Replay clearly showed that Giants’ catcher Buster Posey slapped a tag on Pollock before he crossed the plate, but Bochy was unable to challenge the play.
The biggest managerial blunder Bochy made happened when he opted to slot fifth outfielder Juan Perez into left field in replacement of Mike Morse while nursing a one-run lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. At this juncture of the game, it was clearly far too early to put an awful big league hitter into the middle of the order for the sake of adding range to the outfield. Bochy’s decision decreased the Giants’ chances of winning while also exposing the inadequacy of the bottom of their roster.
The D’Backs scored a pair of runs against former non-roster invitee Juan Gutierrez in the bottom of the sixth. Gutierrez’ inability to help the Giants cling to a one-run lead made Bochy’s decision to insert Perez look utterly foolish. Perez received two at-bats in the final three innings of the game, striking out twice while leaving three men on base.
As a team, the Giants’ left five men on-base, struggling to find offense after an explosive four-run first inning. Perez had the opportunity to tie the game or give the Giants the lead with runners at second and third with one out in the top of the seventh, but failed to put the ball in play.
Perez had a chance to redeem himself in the top of the ninth with the tying run standing on second base, but couldn’t even pressure the defense. He possesses a decent amount of speed, which means a slow ground ball at the very least could have perhaps extended the game.
The outcome of this particular game was eerily similar to the type of defeats the Giants suffered en route to a bitter 76-win season in 2013. They generated few scoring opportunities after initially slapping a four-spot on the scoreboard, and failed to take advantage when presented with the chance to tack on runs.
The Giants’ continuous inability to execute in clutch situations, whether it be on the mound or at the plate, is serious cause for concern.