By Evan Webeck
PHOENIX — Some 400 miles of distance, a different ballpark and a downgrade in competition from the first-place Dodgers to last-place D-backs wasn’t enough for the Giants to shed their slow start to the second half.
Held hitless for more than half the game Monday, the Giants dropped the opener of this three-game series with Arizona, 7-0, leaving them winless in five games since the All-Star break. The five-game losing streak — their fourth of at least that long this season — has dropped them back to .500, all but negating their 7-2 stretch to finish the first half.
The Giants couldn’t muster a hit — or a base runner — off D-backs starter Merrill Kelly until the sixth, when Luis González led off with a double that just cleared the first-base bag. That failed to spark the bats, though, as he was doubled off second base two batters later, and two bunt singles amounted to their only other offense Monday night.
Brandon Belt’s 403-foot fly out to end the seventh was the Giants’ hardest- and furthest-hit ball of the night, and one of only two to leave the bat at more than 100 mph. The shutout was the fifth time they were blanked this season, and their three hits matched their second-fewest in a game. They brought 28 men to the plate, one more than the minimum.
It might be too kind to call Kelly the Giants’ Kryptonite, only because this team doesn’t appear to have any super powers. But it’s tough to find a starter who has shut down the Giants as well as the 33-year-old Arizona State product this season. In three starts this season (all since July 6), Kelly has limited the Giants to four runs and 10 hits in 21⅓ innings (a 1.69 ERA).
Making his first start since June 10, Jakob Junis left the game before he had allowed a run — or the Giants had gotten their first hit. Manager Gabe Kapler came out with the hook with one out in the fifth (Junis was on a pitch count and finished with 63), and Jarlín García allowed the runner he inherited from Junis to score on the first batter he faced.
García faced three batters and didn’t record an out. The Giants’ bullpen troubles continued the following inning, as Sam Long walked the first batter he faced and proceeded to give up a three spot, punctuated by Carson Kelly’s two-RBI double and Josh Rojas’ RBI single that officially put the game out of reach.
The Giants’ shortcomings on defense were also readily apparent again Monday night, even though they weren’t credited with an error.
After ranging far toward right field and setting himself up to make a highlight-reel catch, Austin Slater let a deep David Peralta fly ball glance off his glove and go for a double in the fourth. Slater’s throw home on Alek Thomas’ RBI single in the fifth landed midway up the third-base line, allowing Gerardo Perdomo to score without a play and Thomas to advance to second. Perdomo was only on second because Joc Pederson was so slow getting to the ball he hit into shallow left field. The next inning, another errant throw from Slater allowed Rojas to take second base on his RBI single, even though Kelly crossed the plate well before the throw arrived. And, oh, Joey Bart also dropped a foul pop (though the batter was quickly retired, anyway).
Rookie David Villar, however, provided a couple highlights at third base, charging a hopper to throw out Alek Thomas to end the third, then diving to his right to nab a line drive from Christian Walker for the second out of the seventh.
After going 17-2 against Arizona last season, the Giants fell to 3-4 this year and lost for the third time in four games at Chase Field. In their last visit here at the start of this month, they were at risk of falling below .500, and they’re right there again, at 48-48.
A loss Tuesday wouldn’t only be their sixth straight to start the second half, it would end the majors’ longest active streak without a losing record, dating back to the start of last season.
Source: Paradise Post