San Francisco

Giants Missing Timely Hits During Offensive Slump

The Giants, after such a hot start, have dropped to fourth in the National League West.

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have lost eight of nine, and they’ve done so for a number of different reasons. If you want to sum this skid up, though, look no further than Thursday’s fourth inning.

Shelby Miller, his hand apparently aching, started his third frame by walking Johnny Cueto, Denard Span and Joe Panik. He then walked Hunter Pence, scoring a run. Miller gave way to Tyler Wagner, who got a double play and a groundout to get out of the jam with the game tied. Bruce Bochy’s team wouldn’t score again, losing 6-2 in the final game of the second four-game sweep by a visitor to AT&T Park.

“They were trying to give us the game there,” Bochy said. “If it wasn’t for the walks, we probably get shut out.”

Bochy was visibly frustrated, and for good reason. His team entered three for the last 30 with runners in scoring position and immediately stranded leadoff hitter Denard Span, who drew a walk and then stole second. Miller was on a platter and the Giants couldn’t deliver a knockout blow at any point in those first three innings despite putting six of their first 12 hitters on.

“They killed us,” Bochy said of the failed rallies. “That’s what we’re missing — a timely hit. You always look lifeless when you don’t get those hits.”

This series was as lifeless as the Giants have looked in recent years. AT&T Park was about a third full by the time the Diamondbacks finished a three-run top of the ninth that put the game out of reach. The Giants, after such a hot start, have dropped to fourth in the National League West.

Bochy has resisted changes to the new-look lineup, but there’s one move he could make that wouldn’t shake things up too much and might bring a spark. Matt Duffy has three straight multi-hit games since getting a day to clear his head and his swing, and he gave this team a jolt when moved to the No. 3 spot last summer.

“I could do a lot of things,” Bochy said when asked about Duffy. “I can move the order around. I’ll think on this.”

Bochy said his first order of business after his press conference would be to go back to his office and do just that. Patience is running out, but in the clubhouse it’s still there, and Duffy is a reminder that a slump can be broken in a day or two. Asked about the slumping lineup, he smiled and reminded a reporter, “You saw how bad I was.”

“Baseball has a way of humbling you,” Duffy said. “The second you have it figured out, it’ll let you know that you don’t.”

Bochy found a silver lining, as he tends to, pointing out that the numbers on the scoreboard are all far below what the Giants expect. It can only get better, he said. Still, even a slumping team should have won this one.

Miller walked nearly as many (five) as he retired (six) and Johnny Cueto was game, giving up just three runs in seven quick innings.

“Today is one we let get away,” Bochy said.

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