Giants observations: Alex Cobb, pitchers struggle in series loss to Nationals

SAN FRANCISCO — Alex Cobb didn’t make it out of the first inning of his first start back from a groin strain. The rest of the day didn’t go much better for the Giants.

Cobb gave up five runs in the first and the Giants lost to the Washington Nationals 11-5, capping one of the worst weekends their pitching staff has had at Oracle Park. While dropping two of three, the Giants allowed 28 runs and 45 hits.

The Giants didn’t have a hit of their own until the fifth Sunday, but they ended up loading the bases that inning and threatening to get back in the game. Darin Ruf came up with two outs, but he struck out on a low slider from right-hander Josiah Gray, who allowed just one hit in his six innings. Two innings later, they would briefly get back into the game.

Four singles and two walks off three Nationals relievers turned an 8-0 game into an 8-5 game during a very lengthy bottom of the seventh. The biggest hit came from Mike Ford, who was picked up in a minor cash deal on Saturday and put into the lineup a day later. He ripped a single to right with the bases loaded, capping the five-run frame.

The energy would prove to be short-lived. Jake McGee gave up three runs in the top of the eighth inning, wiping out a lot of the good work the lineup had just done.

Moment to Remember

In Jason Krizan’s first plate appearance, he took some close pitches to draw a walk. You could see in that moment why the Giants have talked so highly of his abilities in the batter’s box. The Giants trailed 5-0 at the time and Krizan was still looking for his first big league hit after two days in the lineup, knowing that he might be sent back to Triple-A before the next game if the Giants get Mike Yastrzemski and LaMonte Wade Jr. back.

Krizan stayed patient, though, and in the fifth inning he finally got the milestone out of the way. Gray had not allowed a hit to that point, but Krizan smoked a single to right. In the family section, his wife teared up and his parents and sister stood to cheer.

Krizan’s first hit came after 1,132 games in the minor leagues.

Not What He Envisioned

Cobb felt good a couple of days after straining his groin and worked hard to make it back when eligible, but the Baseball Gods were not kind to him Sunday. Cobb had his issues, too — he threw just 22 of his 40 pitches for strikes and gave up a couple of rockets up the middle in his first frame back. But it’s hard to imagine someone having worse luck in their return to the mound.

Cobb’s third pitch resulted in a single that left the bat at 68 mph. Two batters later, Nelson Cruz hit a bouncer to third that looked like an easy double play, but Jason Vosler couldn’t handle it and the ball rolled down the left-field line, bringing a run home. After a balk, another single and two walks, former Giants prospect Lucius Fox came up with two on and two outs.

Cobb got a slow 69 mph roller to short but the ball was hit away from the shift and went for an RBI infield single.

Cobb thought he finally got out of the nightmare inning with a strikeout of Cesar Hernandez, but his splitter was fouled off Joey Bart’s glove and the inning continued. When Cobb walked Hernandez, he was pulled after 40 pitches and just two outs.

Only one of the five runs on Cobb’s line was earned because of the error at third, but he still ended up with the shortest start of his career. On a positive note, at least his arm seemed fine. He topped out at 96 mph in the first.

What Could Have Been

The Giants included Fox in the Matt Moore trade six years ago after giving him more than $6 million to sign out of the Bahamas, and there probably haven’t been a lot of times when they’ve seriously regretted it. Fox hasn’t panned out as initially hoped, but he’s with the Washington Nationals now and finally got a lot of “firsts” out of the way against his old team.

Fox had been hitless in his first 20 big league at-bats but he reached on the infield single in the first to get on the board. He followed that immediately with his first stolen base. In the sixth inning, Fox again reached on an infield single, took third on Juan Soto’s single, and then bolted home on a wild pitch that didn’t get far from Joey Bart, scoring with a nifty headfirst slide.

Fox’s bat never developed, but his sprint speeds were around 30 feet-per-second throughout that trip around the bases, which qualifies as elite. He’s still a shortstop, and if he can hit even a little, that speed and glove could keep the 24-year-old in the big leagues for a while.

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