It’s pretty much uncommon for the key hit in a game to take place in the first inning.
Given the Giants’ desire to snap a prolonged losing streak and Diamondbacks’ starter Brandon McCarthy’s challenging season, events unfolded quickly Saturday.
Ahead by one and the bases loaded with two out in the opening frame, left fielder Tyler Colvin, whom the Giants signed as free agent at the start of spring training, delivered the key hit early and that triggered the Giants’ 6-4 victory over the Diamondbacks before 37,916 in Chase Field Saturday.
Colvin’s single to left, the opposite field for this left-handed hitter, scored Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval and gave the Giants an immediate three-run lead. From there, San Francisco scored single runs in the second, fifth and Hunter Pence’s solo shot in the sixth to help break a six-game losing streak.
With the victory, the Giants won for the first time since defeating the Nationals on June 12 at home.
McCarthy suffered his 10th defeat of the season and became the first pitcher in the majors this season to lose games in the double digits. He now stands at 1-10 with an ERA of 5.38.
Afterward, McCarthy said he could not give reasons or even theories for his current tailspin.
“I really don’t know what’s wrong,” he said, his face drawn and the words soft. “Really, I’m baffled and I can’t figure things out. I feel fine, I fell strong, I’m getting more strikeouts but the results are not there. So many things are wrong right now.”
While McCarthy has remained healthy and off the disabled list, there could be a vital dimension of his game missing.
“When you’re not going well, your confidence is not there,” said catcher Miguel Montero. “It’s been a difficult year for him and at times, he tries to make the perfect pitch. You can’t do that all the time and when you don’t make the pitch you want, your confidence is the first to go.”
From the start, McCarthy fell behind hitters, went through the first inning with 32 pitches, and allowed seven hits and three runs over the first two frames. On the night, the 6-7 righty lasted five innings, surrendered five runs, all earned and 10 hits. That represented the second time McCarthy gave up 10 hits a game this season, and he allowed nine hits in a game four times in 2014.
The first inning, two run single from Colvin was particularly disturbing.
“That was a sinker down and I was trying to get a ground ball,“ said McCarthy. “Like most of the pitches recently, it fell through.”
The early deficit was difficult to overcome and Giants’ starter Ryan Vogelsong did not allow the Diamondbacks an opportunity to adequately to respond. In five innings of work, the veteran right-hander allowed five hits, four runs and improved to 5-3 on the season.
The Giants’ bullpen of Jeremy Affeldt, Jean Machi, Santiago Casilla and a save from Segio Romo, his 21st, held the Diamondbacks to four hits and five base runners over the final four innings.
Still, Romo earned the save, but barely.
The Diamondbacks had runners on second and third, down by two, two outs in the ninth and Paul Goldschmidt stepped to the plate. After a prolonged conference at the mound involving Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy, members of the infield and catcher Buster Posey, Romo induced Goldschmidt to fly to right on the first pitch and end the game.
“It was a slider, I hit pretty good and I thought it had a chance,” Goldschmidt said. “Pence ran it down and that was it.”
Down 4-0, the Diamondbacks struggled to stay competitive. They came up with a pair in the second on doubles from Aaron Hill, David Peralta and Montero.
They added a pair in the fifth on a single by Hill that scored Jordan Pacheco and Didi Gregorius, but the Giants remained at arm’s length.
McCarthy left trailing 5-2 and the five innings was his shortest since he lasted 4.1 innings against the Reds on May 31.
While McCarthy’s continues to struggle in gaining victories, his bat appears to be more productive than his arm. With his record now at 1-10, McCarthy has driven in three runs on the season, and there’s something wrong with a picture in which a pitcher has more RBIs than victories.
Centerfielder A. J. Pollock had the cast removed from his right hand and began resumption of baseball activity.
“I hope to be back within a few weeks,” he said the other day in the clubhouse. “Feeling pretty good.”
Pollock has been out since sustaining a broken right hand on May 31. He was hit by a pitch from the Reds’ Johnny Cueto late in that game.
At the time of his injury, Pollock was hitting .316 and named National League player-of-the-week twice this season.
At the same time, outfielder Mark Trumbo, out since April 22 with a stress fracture of his right foot, may be close to returning.
Taking batting practice now in the cage, manager Kirk Gibson told reporters before Saturday’s game with the Giants that Trumbo could begin to DH in the Arizona Rookie League shortly and then start a rehab period, likely at Triple-A Reno.
While Gibson indicated there is no time table for Trumbo‘s return, a best-case scenario is a return to the D-backs’ line-up after the up-coming All-Star break.