Giants playoff hopes slimmer after Rockies sweep Saturday double-header

Sep 17, 2023, 8:44 AM | Updated: 8:45 am

Starting pitcher Scott Alexander #54 of the San Francisco Giants leaves the game against the Colora...

DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 16: Starting pitcher Scott Alexander #54 of the San Francisco Giants leaves the game against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning at Coors Field on September 16, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The chances of the San Francisco Giants making the playoffs were damaged Saturday when the Colorado Rockies swept the Giants 9-5 and 5-2 in a day-night doubleheader, taking advantage of seven walks in the opener and two errors and a pair of wild pitches in the nightcap.

Ezequiel Tovar finished with five hits and five RBIs on the day, including a career-high four RBIs in the opener for the Rockies.

The Giants (75-74) fell 2 1/2 games behind Cincinnati Arizona, who are tied for the last NL wild card, also trailing Miami. San Francisco, which wasted a 3-0 lead in the opener, had won 16 of 17 against Colorado dating to Aug. 21 last year but dropped the first three of a four-game series. The Giants have lost nine straight road games for the first time since 1996.

Colorado will go for the series sweep Sunday.

“Timing is not good to not be playing good baseball,” San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler said. “We’re tough bunch and the thing that we need to consider right now is how many times are we able to get back off the mat after getting knocked down.”

Victor Vodnik (1-0) won in his first big league decision in the second game, allowing one run and two hits over two innings in of relief of Kyle Freeland, who left after three innings due to a mild right oblique strain.

“An injury like this is very touchy,” Freeland said. “If I would have kept pitching more than likely it would have gotten worse.”

Colorado has won five straight for the first time since July 12-16, 2022, and captured its first series from an NL West opponent this season. The Rockies swept a doubleheader for the first time since Aug. 17, 2014, against Cincinnati.

Thairo Estrada tied a career high with four hits in the first game and added a single and a run in the nightcap.

San Francisco loaded the bases in the ninth inning of the second game before pinch-hitter Blake Sabol popped out off Tyler Kinley, who got his fourth save in six chances.

“We’ve been streaky all year, played really good baseball at times, really bad baseball at times but we’re still in the hunt, still have a chance to make the playoffs and that’s what we’ve got to focus on,” catcher Patrick Bailey said.

Giants starter Scott Alexander (7-3) allowed a pair of unearned runs in two-thirds of an inning, After a two-out fielding error by shortstop Paul DeJong on Tovar’s grounder, Kris Bryant hit an RBI double and scored on Elehuris Montero’s single.

Mike Yastrzemski’s RBI single cut the deficit to 2-1 in the second, but Charlie Blackmon tripled in the third and scored on single by Tovar, who advanced on a Jakob Junis wild pitch and took third on catcher Patrick Bailey’s throwing error, then scored on another wild pitch.

Michael Conforto hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth, and Bryant singled in a run in the seventh.

In the opener Keaton Winn, Ryan Walker (4-3) and Ross Stripling combined for the seven walks, and Rockies pitchers also walked seven. LaMonte Wade Jr. homered for San Francisco.

“You can’t walk anybody in this ballpark,” Kapler said. “It’s almost always going to come back to bite you.”

Tovar had three hits for the Rockies, starting the comeback from a 3-0 deficit with a bases-loaded triple in the third.

Bryant hit an RBI single in the fifth for a 4-3 lead, Walker forced in a run with a walk to Hunter Goodman, his third of the inning. and Stripling walked Castro for a 6-3 advantage. Tovar added an RBI single in the seventh that included Austin Wynns’ two-run single.

Stripling made his first appearance for the Giants since missing 25 games with a mid-back strain. He walked his first batter, ending a streak of 169 batters without a walk.

“A little bit of rust and cobwebs definitely needed to be shaken off,” Stripling said.

Karl Kauffman (2-4) allowed an unearned run and two hits in four innings and Gavin Hollowell got an eight-out save, his first save for Colorado.

San Francisco took a 2-0 lead on Sabol’s two-run double in the second inning and added another run in the third when Estrada singled, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on two passed balls by Austin Wynns.

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