For Giants, on edge, wrong play and wrong pitch lead to defeat

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — They live on the edge. Or, as they did on this Saturday of wind, fog, sunshine and frustration, fall off.

Another team, the Dodgers for example, has the players and the punch to overcome mistakes, a burst of runs correcting whatever failures take place.

But the Giants do not. If they make the wrong call, the wrong play, the wrong pitch, they lose, as they did to the Yankees, 6-4, at Oracle Park.

If it seems the Giants were there, well, they weren’t. Until scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth, which didn’t prevent a second straight loss to New York but looked better cosmetically than getting shut out.

Still, it was a defeat, and shoved the Giants five games below .500, and we haven’t even reached May. Meaning the situation is apt to become a great deal worse, especially with no one in the starting lineup Saturday hitting above .280 and with Mad Bum, Madison Bumgarner, looking like Bad Bum.

But it was Derek Holland who threw the wrong pitches Saturday, most of all an inside fast ball to Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth. Sanchez drove the ball 467 feet into the bleachers in left center, and like that, a 2-0 game was a 6-0 game.

Bruce Bochy wanted to take the blame. “It was my fault,” said the Giants' manager. “He (Holland) was ahead in the count, 1-2, and he still had his stuff. I gave him a chance to get through. He was making his pitches. He made a mistake.”

Holland said he deserved to take the blame, not the boss. “We were cruising,” Holland insisted. “One pitch took away a whole game. Those guys (his teammates) fought back. That’s what upsets me the most. Letting them down.”

These are upsetting times around the old ballpark. First is the Giants' incapability. Next is the attendance. There were only 33,071 on hand Saturday at what seemed like a marquee game, Giants-Yankees — and a great many in the crowd were cheering for the Yankees. True, it’s still only April, but it was the only game in the region, the Warriors and Sharks both idle Saturday.

Nobody expects the Giants to get a ton of hits and runs, and even in the championship seasons they won on pitching. Still, with Evan Longoria hitting .206, Brandon Crawford .207 and Buster Posey .247, you’re going to need near perfection from the pitchers. It doesn’t exist.

Bumgarner, who started Friday night, gave up two runs in the first. Bumgarner and Holland, two of the Giants big three, each are 1-4. Those combined eight losses are exactly half of the San Francisco total.

Maybe that’s why Bochy chose to squeeze as much as possible out of Holland, to get him confidence as much as to get the team a win. “But his margin of error is not real big,” said the manager, which of course only reflects the Giants as a whole.

San Francisco invariably is playing from behind, trying to extricate itself from a quick deficit.

The Giants did show resolve in the final inning Saturday, Yangervis Solarte hitting a three-run homer and then pinch hitter Erik Kratz hitting a bases-empty home run.  

“One pitch takes us out of the game,” said a rueful Holland. “I was told by an old pitching coach you’re one pitch from greatness and one pitch from humility.”

These are humbling days for the San Francisco Giants.

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