Strickland's Giants look to bounce back vs. Rockies (Jun 16, 2017)

BY AP • June 16, 2017

DENVER -- After two mop-up appearances, Hunter Strickland pitched in a third successive game Thursday, this time in a crucial situation.

He retired one of the four batters he faced in the ninth and gave up the game-losing run as the San Francisco Giants fell 10-9 to the Colorado Rockies.

That Strickland was available to pitch was somewhat puzzling to Giants manager Bruce Bochy. A hearing was held Tuesday to appeal Strickland's six-game suspension, the result of a May 29 pitch that hit Washington's Bryce Harper in the hip and resulted in Harper charging the mound and punches being thrown.

Asked about the delay in a decision on Strickland's appeal, Bochy said, "I'm trying to find out myself. We have not heard a word. I have nothing to tell you about why it's taking so long. We would like to know."

The Giants will try to rebound from the tough loss Friday.

Jeff Samardzija (2-8, 4.31 ERA) will start for the Giants against Colorado rookie Antonio Senzatela (8-2, 3.84). Samardzija is 0-2 with an 8.03 ERA in two starts this season against the Rockies. But he has had success at Coors Field, where he is 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA in seven career games.

Senzatela pitched a season-low four innings in his last start, Sunday at the Chicago Cubs. He's 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts this season against the Giants. He has pitched seven innings in each outing, and he is 6-1 with a 3.18 ERA in seven career starts at Coors Field.

In the loss Thursday, Brandon Crawford hit the first three-run homer by a Giants player this season. The Giants hit three homers for the first time since May 22 at Wrigley Field. They have 52, putting them a distant last in the majors in that category.

Part of the problem has been the black hole in left field, a power position typically but far from it with the Giants. Their left fielders are hitting .228 with four homers, 33 RBIs and a worst-in-the-majors .609 OPS.

Against that dismal backdrop, the play of left fielder Austin Slater has been encouraging. He went 4-for-5 Thursday for his first career four-hit game. In 10 games since the Giants selected his contract June 2 from Triple-A Sacramento, Slater is hitting .405 (15-for-37) with one double, one triple, one homer, seven RBIs and five runs. It's the proverbial small sample size, but Slater does have a .463 on-base percentage and a .568 slugging percentage.

"It's good to have some production in left field," Bochy said. "That's an area where you're supposed to get production. We need some contribution from that area, because it's been a tough spot for us. And that's what you want to see. You want these guys coming up here and doing all they can not to go back. And he's doing that."

In their victory Thursday, the Rockies used five relievers. All were scored on, and they collectively allowed eight runs in four innings.

Left-hander Chris Rusin did not pitch, making it more likely he'll see action soon. Rusin is 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 24 games. In 36 innings, he has allowed 24 hits, holding hitters to a .186 average with 10 walks and 27 strikeouts. Rusin has stranded 13 of 16 inherited runners.

"He's a Swiss Army Knife," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He can do a lot of different things. I think he has the heartbeat to come in in a real tight situation and get the job done. He has the durability and the stamina and the length to pitch multiple innings and hold his stuff and have a great performance. And he's also resilient. The arm holds up, so he can be used (a lot). He's been extremely valuable. He's been a big part of our bullpen success and our pitching success."

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