San Francisco Giants Lose Hitters and Game, but They’re Still Fighting

Jun 15, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti (19) talks to starting pitcher Matt Moore (45) as catcher Buster Posey (28) listens in the second inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti (19) talks to starting pitcher Matt Moore (45) as catcher Buster Posey (28) listens in the second inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The San Francisco Giants not only lost Thursday’s game, but lost Posey and Nunez as well. The guys still in the lineup continued to fight, however.

Just when you think that things can’t get any worse for the San Francisco Giants in the 2017 season, things find a way to get worse. Within minutes of each other, Eduardo Nunez and Buster Posey, the two Giants that have been consistently hitting over the past month or so, were forced to leave Thursday’s series opener against the Colorado Rockies.

Both were even injured on good results, as well, which is just about par for the course for the Giants this year. For every positive thing that happens, a negative thing has to happen almost immediately. Nunez, who turned 30 years old on Thursday, was injured while beating out an infield single to Rockies’ shortstop Trevor Story. He had trouble stopping his stride down the first base line, and signaled to first base coach Jose Alguacil and the bench that he was in some serious discomfort. He was immediately pulled for pinch-runner Gorkys Hernandez.

A little while later, it was announced that Nunez left the game with tightness in his hamstring. Nunez had been playing through some hamstring troubles this season, and was doing extremely well with it. Since May started, Nunez owned a .331/.354/.494 slash-line, and had 13 doubles and four home runs. His infield single on Thursday marked the 29th consecutive game in which he reached base safely, the longest such streak in the major leagues.

Hernandez took Nunez’s place at first base, and didn’t have to do much running. He was able to jog when Posey slammed his ninth home run of the season into the bleachers in left-center field. But the good feelings that the home run brought about were soon washed away, as Posey visibly grimaced exiting the box and had a very noticeable limp as he made his trot around the bags.

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Back in the dugout, Posey’s limp only got worse as he went down the stairs into the clubhouse. He would go no farther in the game, with Nick Hundley taking over behind the plate. Posey’s injury was later announced as ankle soreness.

Posey has easily been the Giants’ best hitter this season. He owns a .348/.435/.520 slash-line, and has been the main threat for an extremely weak-hitting team.

Combined with Nunez’s injury, manager Bruce Bochy was forced to get creative to complete his infield. Kelby Tomlinson and Aaron Hill, the lone infielders on the bench, had already pinch hit earlier in the game, so Austin Slater, a rookie outfielder who had never before played third base as a professional, took over at the hot corner. Hernandez took Slater’s former position in left field.

With the team ravaged by injuries, the Giants did not fold. Despite a 9-1 deficit entering the seventh inning, they kept fighting back. Posey’s home run made it a six-run game, and they kept the runs coming over the next two innings.

Hundley, hitting in the ninth spot and trying to fill Posey’s shoes, led off the eight inning with a long home run over the extended fence in right field. After a Denard Span single and Brandon Belt walk, Ty Blach was pressed into service because of the empty bench. Blach, who has been doing a tremendous Madison Bumgarner impression all season, channeled the Giant ace again, shooting a base hit up the middle to score a run.

And then, the impossible happened. Brandon Crawford stepped to the plate, facing left-handed reliever Jake McGee. Crawford had struggled mightily in big spots, owning a quite uncharacteristic .208 average with runners in scoring position, and a .147 average in the same situations with two outs. Crawford threw those numbers out the window on Thursday. He drilled McGee’s offering to left field, and it sailed into the crowd for the Giants’ first three-run home run of the season.

That brought it to a one-run game, and they took that deficit into the ninth. Facing Colorado closer Greg Holland, who entered the game without a blown save on the season, the rookie Slater opened the frame with his fourth hit of the day. He took third when Span shot a single up the middle, and it was left up to Gorkys Hernandez.

The much-maligned backup outfielder put on a great at-bat, fighting back from an 0-2 count before getting a pitch he could elevate. He hit a flyball just deep enough to center field to allow Slater to race home with the game-tying run. The Giants fought back from an eight-run deficit and tied the game in the ninth inning against the most dominant closer in the game.

All in all, it was for naught as Raimel Tapia walked it off with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the frame. But if this game showed nothing else, it’s that this Giants’ team is still fighting. They are not laying back and letting the other team land all the punches. Despite every piece of bad news they’ve received and every bad game they’ve played through, they went out on Thursday, down two of their best men, and scratched and clawed the entire way back.

The Giants continue to lose games, and usually in the most frustrating of ways, but their heart is still in it. After everything they’ve gone through this year, that can be seen as a relief.

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The road doesn’t get any easier during this series, however. Nunez and Posey will both be out for a couple days, leaving a team that was already playing with a short bench even shorter. With Hunter Strickland‘s suspension still in limbo and the possibility that it could start at any time, the team has to carry an extra pitcher in the event they lose him in Coors Field. That leaves Tomlinson, Hill, and Hernandez as the only bench options, with one of the former two stepping into the starting lineup, along with Hundley. A two-man bench at Coors Field is very risky business.

This team has fought through everything thrown their way so far this season. They’ll have to do it again in Colorado.