Giants observations: Bullpen falters in extra-innings loss to Twins

On a quiet and gloomy night in the Twin Cities, the Giants couldn’t get out of their own way in a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins in 10 innings on Saturday at Target Field.

Alex Cobb (5 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) took the mound against Twins righty Sonny Gray and both starters dealt early on while offenses for both teams were nowhere to be found.

After about a 40-minute rain delay between the bottom of the seventh and top of the eighth innings, the game resumed and the Giants looked like they would hold on to win.

But closer Camilo Doval, who was called on in the bottom of the eighth, was unable to get the four-out save, giving up two runs in the bottom of the ninth.

In the top of the 10th, Luis González, who was just recalled earlier in the day, made another baserunning miscue, getting thrown out trying to advance to third on a groundball to shortstop. That essentially ended the Giants’ threat.

Dominic Leone came on to pitch the bottom of the 10th, and after retiring the first batter on a sacrifice bunt, he walked the next three batters, with the final free pass to Gilberto Celestino forcing in the winning run.

Here are three observations from the Giants’ deflating loss that drops them to 61-64.

Warm slice of Cobbler

Cobb has certainly been one of the few positives for the Giants in the second half of the season. In seven starts since the All-Star break, Cobb has pitched at least five innings while allowing three or fewer runs in six of his seven outings.

Since Cobb surrendered seven and six earned runs in back-to-back starts on May 17 and 23, he has lowered his ERA from 6.25 to 3.81 after Saturday night’s outing against the Twins.

Cobb, alongside co-aces Logan Webb and Carlos Rodón, has anchored the Giants’ rotation while veterans Alex Wood and Jakob Junis continue to find their footing.

Put out an APB

The Giants’ offense has gone missing. Apparently, to never be seen or heard from again.

Not only did San Francisco’s lineup scratch across just one run against Gray (5 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) and one against the Minnesota bullpen, but the first run in the fifth, prior to Tommy La Stella’s sacrifice fly, matched the total number of runs scored over San Francisco’s previous 25 innings.

The Giants scored again in the top of the ninth inning after three singles and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Austin Slater.

This goes without saying, but the Giants simply won’t be a playoff team if they continue to swing the bats the way they have since the All-Star break.

Over the last calendar month, the Giants’ offense had hit just .225/.308/.375 with just 92 runs scored prior to Saturday’s game, the fifth-worst mark in the league over that span.

The bullpen is a jinx

I will admit that I might have jinxed the Giants’ bullpen on Saturday night. With the game nearing an end, this observation was dedicated to the success that San Francisco’s relievers were having. A lot of what was written had to be erased after the ninth inning. Sorry about that.

In the previous 10 games, San Francisco’s bullpen had surrendered just seven earned runs in 32 innings pitched, good for a collective 1.97 ERA.

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However, after Cobb departed, the Giants’ bullpen was able to preserve a 2-0 lead … until the bottom of the ninth. With Doval on to complete a four-out save, Minnesota rallied in the ninth with two outs and a runner on base. With Max Kapler at second, Carlos Correa and Jake Cave each singled, scoring two runs and tying the game at two apiece.

Fast forward to the bottom of the 10th inning. Leone got Nick Gordon to ground out, advancing automatic runner Caleb Hamilton to third with one out. Two walks (one intentional) to load the bases, and Celestino drew Minnesota’s third walk of the inning, resulting in a walk-off walk.

With an ice-cold offense, the Giants have little-to-no room for error late in games. The bullpen had held strong in recent weeks but imploded on Saturday night against the Twins.

The Giants will send righty Jakob Junis to the mound on Sunday against Twins’ righty Aaron Sanchez as they look to avoid the three-game sweep.

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