SAN FRANCISCO — It’s never good when there’s a debate to be had over the most brutal display of baseball. Even worse when the team with the lowest winning percentage in the National League is on one side and doesn’t factor into the conversation.
In Sunday’s 10-3 loss to the Reds, the Giants and their fans will have to decide what was more appalling: the seven runs allowed in the third after recording two outs, or the three that scored in the fifth because of a brazen lack of effort.
Anthony DeSclafani, in his second start back from a two-month absence, breezed through two innings and retired two of the first three batters of the third. Then it all fell apart. DeSclafani wouldn’t record another out and was credited with seven runs over 2⅔, raising his ERA to an eye-popping 9.95 through five starts.
“All that happening with two outs is unacceptable,” said DeSclafani, who hasn’t made it past the third in either of his two starts since returning from right ankle inflammation. “Certainly frustrating.”
The seven runs that followed matched the most the Giants have allowed in an inning this season and the most that have all come with two outs since 2017. But it’s hard to lay all the blame on DeSclafani, even if this is far from the return the Giants had hoped for from their three-year, $36 million investment they made this offseason.
“Things snowballed a little in the third,” said manager Gabe Kapler. “I actually think (DeSclafani) was fine. I thought Anthony threw strikes and got weak swings. … We didn’t play our best defense behind him.”
He was one strike away from putting away Brandon Drury, before he ripped an RBI triple and had Tommy Pham 0-2 before he followed with a single. DeSclafani was one inch away from putting away Joey Votto, after his would-be groundout to first was ruled foul, before he ripped an RBI double. Looking to the outfield, Mike Yastrzemski and Austin Slater each had chances to end the inning, too.
Yastrzemski threw to second, rather than hitting the cut-off man, on Votto’s double, allowing Tommy Pham to score all the way from first without a play. And two batters later, Slater badly misjudged a pop fly from Matt Reynolds, which hit the dirt of the warning track and bounced over the center field wall.
“Some of those at-bats with two strikes, I probably could’ve put the guy away earlier with a better executed slider,” DeSclafani said. “I was really happy with how the first two innings went, but then everything just unraveled in the third. That’s baseball, but it’s also unacceptable, as well.”
In the fifth, Jarlín García induced a ground ball from Nick Senzel that, thanks to a diving stop by Belt, looked to be the third out of the inning. It would have stranded two more runners on base. But García failed to cover first base, giving Belt no target at the bag. As García raced into position, Belt tossed behind him. As the ball rolled around in foul territory, Donovan Solano and Reynolds rounded the bases. Senzel strolled in to second base. And the ball. Just. Stayed. There.
Not only was Curt Casali not in position to back up the play, there was no urgency shown by any of the nine players in cream-colored jerseys to pick up the ball once it rolled into foul territory.
“I don’t feel the need to call any one individual out. We had a few mental lapses,” Kapler said. “We just have to do a better job of concentrating, particularly when games are starting to move fast and seemingly spinning a little out of control.”
Offensively, the Giants fared better against Tyler Mahle than they did their last time, when the veteran right-hander took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. But Mike Yastrzemski’s fourth-inning solo shot that just cleared the left field wall amounted to their only damage until showing a little life with a two-run rally off the Reds’ bullpen in the seventh.
Since climbing to a season-high 10 games over .500 last Saturday, the Giants have lost six of their past eight.
After winning 72 of their 99 games against teams at or below .500 last season — a .727 winning percentage — the Giants’ record against losing teams this season fell to 21-15 after Sunday’s loss, a .583 winning percentage.
Their loss to the Reds also guaranteed them a losing record this season against the team with the worst winning percentage in the NL, dropping two of three in each of their meetings with Cincinnati. Last season, the Giants lost season series to three teams — only one with a losing record.
“I don’t think we’ve played good baseball in either one of those series, obviously,” Kapler said. “I just don’t think it matters the fact that it was the Reds or any other team. If we play good baseball, we beat good teams. … There’s some work to be done on this off day.”
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