July 5, 2022

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Crawford (quad) exits early in loss to Rox

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants had been hoping to get Brandon Belt back from the injured list on Tuesday, but the veteran first baseman is expected to miss at least a few more days as he continues to work his way back from a right knee injury. Later in the day, they lost shortstop Brandon Crawford, as well.

Crawford departed the Giants’ 5-3 loss to the Rockies on Tuesday night at Oracle Park with right quad tightness in the fifth inning, though manager Gabe Kapler described the move as precautionary.

Crawford said he began to feel tightness in his quad after running down to first base in his first at-bat in the first inning, which didn’t show signs of improving as the game wore on. Crawford had already been feeling under the weather due to a sinus infection, so the Giants decided not to take any chances with the 35-year-old veteran, sending Thairo Estrada to pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the fifth.

“I think a bigger injury is what we were trying to avoid with it being pretty tight,” Crawford said. “We’ll see how it responds tomorrow, I’m sure, and go from there.”

Still, Crawford’s exit exacerbated a stinging defeat for San Francisco, which took a 3-2 lead into the sixth inning only to see it wiped away by Charlie Blackmon’s pinch-hit, three-run shot off reliever José Álvarez. Kapler summoned Álvarez to face Blackmon with a pair of runners on and one out, but the Rockies slugger won the left-on-left matchup by depositing a 1-2 changeup into McCovey Cove for his 200th career home run.

Entering Tuesday, Blackmon had been only 1-for-9 in his career against Álvarez, who surrendered his first home run to a left-handed hitter since 2019.

“I’m sure you guys are aware of his history against Blackmon,” Kapler said. “It’s pretty good. Additionally, his left-on-left changeup is a really good pitch. It’s Alvarez’s specialty. He throws a really good one. … [Blackmon] was rewarded for a really good swing on a pitch that just missed a little bit from Álvarez.”

The bigger concern for the Giants might be the erratic nature of their offense, which scored three runs in the first inning against Rockies right-hander German Márquez but was shut out the rest of the way. Wilmer Flores launched a two-run shot to put San Francisco on the board, and Luis González added an RBI single to make it 3-1, but the Giants mustered only two hits after that.

“I think one of the things that we can work on as an offense right now is taking the same approach the second and the third time through as we do the first time through,” Kapler said. “We tend to, even with some of the best pitchers around the league, really drive their pitch count up in the first and the second inning, and sometimes we have a tendency to let them off the hook.

“It’s something that we have to get better at. I think we will get better at it. We’ve shown the ability to do that consistently in the past, we just haven’t done it enough so far this season.”

The Giants excelled at grinding down opposing pitchers last year, when they averaged a National League-high 3.99 pitches per plate appearance, but they’ve had a more difficult time sustaining that approach without regulars like Belt and LaMonte Wade Jr. in their lineup.

“I think that’s a considerable factor,” Kapler said. “We like everybody that we have in the lineup. We’re pleased with them. Brandon Belt is a guy that can really grind a pitcher down. We’ve gotten some huge at-bats from Donnie Walton and some huge at-bats from Jason Vosler and others. It’s a little bit different in terms of that consistent, consistent grind.”

The Rockies, by contrast, were able to exert consistent pressure on Carlos Rodón, who needed 98 pitches to get through four innings. Rodón allowed two runs on four hits, including a leadoff homer to former Giants outfielder Connor Joe, but Colorado ran up his pitch count by fouling off 33 of his offerings — one shy of matching the Cardinals’ Miles Mikolas for the most fouls off a Major League pitcher in a single start this year.

“Carlos is not consistently enough putting away hitters, but it’s really nothing that Carlos is doing,” Kapler said. “Oftentimes, the opposing hitters are just finding a way to get a bat on the ball and extend the at-bat, extend the at-bat. He’s ultimately recording plenty of outs. That’s not the issue. It’s just he’s not able to put guys away right now.

“He’s going to put it all together, and when he does, he’s going to go deep into games and help us win a lot of them. But more recently, he’s having a hard time just getting that final strike.”

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