By Chris Haft
PHOENIX — As the Giants began batting practice Saturday, manager Bruce Bochy equated the Giants’ postseason chances to “trying to hit a lottery ticket.”
The jackpot eluded the Giants as they fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 15-2. San Francisco’s fourth loss in five games eliminated the defending World Series champions from Wild Card contention, one night after the D-backs clinched the National League West title and excused the Giants from the division race.
Those searching for symbolism could find a metaphor for the Giants’ fate in the bottom of the seventh inning, when a power outage extinguished the field lights and delayed play for 28 minutes.
Much more relevant interpretations of the Giants’ star-crossed campaign emerged before the game, when Bochy mused about the year’s fluctuations.
Completing his 17th season as a Major League manager, Bochy refused to second-guess any significant decisions he made. “Sure, there are times as a manager that you go back through a game in which you would have done this or that. Every manager does that,” Bochy said. “But, no, I don’t have any regrets that I could have done something different.”
Bochy admitted that less proved to be more as the season deepened. The Giants ceased conducting hitters’ meetings before the start of each series earlier this month. Shortly after that, they won eight consecutive games and nine of 10. “Really, when we got better was when we backed off,” Bochy said. “We’re not going to talk about the [scouting] reports. Let’s just go out and play.”
The Giants absorbed most of the shock from falling short of the postseason on Friday. Though Saturday’s defeat didn’t cut so deeply, it still stung.
“It’s disappointing, of course,” right-hander Sergio Romo said. “We did have high expectations this year. It wasn’t necessarily to repeat as world champions, but it was definitely to repeat as a playoff team.”
Unlike Friday’s 3-1 loss, which featured excellent pitching and egregious offensive execution, this was not a typical Giants defeat. Actually, it wasn’t at all a typical Major League performance, given the Giants’ 13 walks. That tied a San Francisco-era record for a nine-inning game, previously established on May 18, 2007, at Oakland. “That shouldn’t happen,” Bochy said.
Arizona third baseman Ryan Roberts attributed the plethora of free passes to the D-backs’ patience. “It just stems from being comfortable and getting those games out of the way and clinching,” Roberts said. “There, for a little bit, everybody was trying to do too much to try and be the one to win it or to be the one to get the big hit. Now I think that’s gone and everyone can relax and get back to the basics.”
Left-hander Eric Surkamp, whose previous four starts resulted in Giants victories, finally looked like a rookie. Arizona instantly settled matters in the first inning with six runs — all of which were charged to Surkamp, who lasted two-thirds of an inning.
Surkamp compromised himself by walking four D-backs, including three in a row with one out. That set up two-run singles by Roberts, whose hit was conventional, and Gerardo Parra, whose hit wasn’t. Parra tapped a grounder up the middle that second baseman Mike Fontenot likely would have fielded. But Fontenot collided squarely with second-base umpire Bruce Dreckman as the ball proceeded into the outfield. The Giants could do nothing except curse their luck, a frequent activity of theirs in the past two months.
Bochy observed that dwelling on one play in a 13-walk, 13-run defeat bordered on senseless. But, he noted, “if [Surkamp] gets out of the inning and gets his feet on the ground, it could be a different game.”
To his credit, Surkamp avoided using the collision as an excuse. “There’s nothing you can do about it,” he said. “… The umpire couldn’t move and [Fontenot] couldn’t go around him. You can’t really focus on that.”
With a 1-2 count on Parra, Fontenot moved up a few steps to play halfway in the infield dirt. Otherwise, he would have skirted Dreckman.
“I guess we never saw each other,” said Fontenot, who received an apology from Dreckman for his accidental interference. “I hit him and I wouldn’t say I blacked out, but it stunned me. I kind of got the wind knocked out of me. … Hang with ‘em.”
Having established their superiority over the Giants, the D-backs added five runs in the sixth inning, three in the seventh and another in the eighth for emphasis.
Pablo Sandoval accounted for San Francisco’s offense against D-backs 21-game winner Ian Kennedy with a pair of run-scoring hits, a first-inning single and a sixth-inning double.
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