During this stretch of awful baseball, the San Francisco Giants have found so many different ways to lose.
This loss, however, may have been the toughest.
It was a 16-inning marathon between the Giants and the New York Mets that took more than five hours to complete. The Giants used eight different pitchers, left 18 men on base, were 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position, and had Brandon Belt take an 0-for-8 with five strikeouts as their third place hitter.
But they kept on playing, amidst the seagulls and the crowd that gradually left as the game went on.
In a cruel twist of irony, the game was lost when the usually sure-handed Brandon Crawford failed to handle a ground ball hit by Anthony Recker with a runner on third and two outs. The ball kicked away from Crawford, who tried to recover and throw to first, but it was too late. Eric Young Jr. crossed the plate, and the Mets took a 4-3 lead.
The Giants did put on a little rally in the bottom half of the 16th, putting men on first and second with one out, but Pablo Sandoval struck out and Guillermo Quiroz grounded out to conclude matters.
The irony was even more apparent tonight, because Crawford made a spectacular play in the 11th inning, preventing the go-ahead run from scoring at that point with a diving stop and perfect throw on a ground ball by Marlon Byrd.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Giants nearly walked-off. With runners on first and second and one out in the 11th, Hunter Pence hit a bullet to right that was tracked down by Byrd. Crawford popped out to end the inning.
The Giants also had a chance in the 13th, loading the bases with two out, but Cole Gillespie grounded out to shortstop.
The pitching matchup featured two marquee names: Tim Lincecum for the Giants against Matt Harvey of the Mets.
The Giants drew first blood, when Buster Posey crushed a two-run homer to left in the first inning. This must have been music to the ears of Bruce Bochy, as his team has rarely gotten off to a good start in recent weeks.
Lincecum had himself a solid, quality start, allowing three runs in seven innings and striking out a season-high 11 batters. He could have had an even better performance had the defense behind him not faltered in the sixth.
Young Jr. led off the inning with a base hit down the left field line, but Andres Torres had a difficult time fielding it as the security guard got in the way, and Young wound up with a triple. The next batter, Daniel Murphy, singled him in. Then, after a Marco Scutaro throwing error, the Mets took a 3-2 lead on a double play grounder by John Buck.
The Giants would tie things up in the seventh, when Brandon Crawford singled in Hunter Pence, who hit a leadoff triple. Pence’s hit was reviewed by the umpires because it nearly went over the center field wall, but the play stood as a triple.
Looking at the big picture, the Giants have lost 31 of their last 47 games. Even when they put in the effort and play with the heart of a champion, they’re not winning like champions.
The players may be the same, but this is not the same Giants team that won the World Series last fall. This is a Giants team that is eight games under .500, and digging themselves a bigger hole every single night.