Giants squander leads in opening series loss

Giants squander leads in opening series loss

PHOENIX -- Maintain perspective. Avoid panic.

Those should be the instructions for everybody who cares about the Giants, including the Giants themselves, following Thursday night's 9-3 loss to the D-backs.

The Giants lost three of four games in this season-opening series to Arizona, which finished 18 games behind them in last year's National League West standings. But with 158 games remaining, this series soon will seem more forgettable and less monumental, no matter how the Giants fare.

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Amateur historians understand why this wasn't a disastrous experience for the Giants. Rewind to 2012, when San Francisco absorbed one-run defeats in all three games of its season-opening series here.

Later that season, on July 4-5, the Giants squandered three-run leads on back-to-back days at Washington in another series sweep for the opponent. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that marked the last time San Francisco endured consecutive defeats while blowing that large a lead -- until this series. The Giants owned a 3-0 advantage entering the bottom of the sixth inning on Opening Day and let leads of 3-0 and 4-1 slip away on Wednesday.

Bear in mind that the '12 Giants won the West title by finishing 94-68, their best record under manager Bruce Bochy, and captured the World Series championship.

Then again, improvement won't occur automatically.

No phase of the pitching staff particularly excelled against the D-backs, who averaged nearly seven runs a game.

"It comes down to pitching a little bit better," Bochy said. "This whole series, that got away from us."

Thursday, three pitches got away from an otherwise strong Jeff Samardzija. He struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings but allowed six runs while yielding homers to David Peralta, Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb.

Left field remained a forbidden zone. While stationed at that position, Jarrett Parker, Chris Marrero and Aaron Hill went 0-for-17 with 10 strikeouts. Hill, who homered while playing second base, might receive a chance to claim the spot despite his background as an infielder.

"It's all about getting in there and getting experience," said Hill, a 12-year veteran. "As far as comfort level, I'm comfortable anywhere out there between the lines. But it is a new position and it's something you've got to work hard at. Like anything, if I'm going to continue to get better, I want to see those hard fly balls. I want to be tested out there. That's how I'm going to learn to be a better left fielder. I'm up for the challenge."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.