SAN FRANCISCO – Giants right-hander Ross Stripling threw a 90-mph fastball in the fourth inning that was located right in the heart of the strike zone — so much so that Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Josh Lowe was upset with himself for fouling it off.
Stripling again missed with his location just three pitches later, and this time, Lowe drove the four-seamer 430 feet over the right-center field wall.
Stripling would continue to struggle, giving the run-challenged Giants almost no chance to come back in what became a 6-1 loss to the Rays on Wednesday before an announced crowd of 27,510 at Oracle Park.
Lowe’s home run was one of three allowed by Striping, who also gave up a two-run homer to Brandon Lowe in the fifth inning and an inside-the-park one to Luke Raley in the sixth. Raley’s shot went off the brick wall in right field, then bounced off the top of the wall in right-center and past centerfielder Wade Meckler, allowing Raley to trot home.
Stripling has now allowed 19 earned runs in his last 41 innings in eight outings since July 7. Still, unless he was near-perfect, he was going to have a hard time earning his first win of the season after the Giants were held to one run or fewer for the 28th time this season.
The Giants stranded three runners in the first six innings before they loaded the bases in the seventh. But after LaMonte Wade Jr. drew a one-out walk to score San Francisco’s first run, pinch-hitter Austin Slater grounded into a double play to end the threat.
For the game, the Giants went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position they finished their homestand with a 2-4 record.
San Francisco has now scored just 47 runs in 14 games this month. The Giants entered Wednesday with a .611 OPS in August, second-lowest in MLB.
The result came less than 20 hours after the Giants’ emotionally charged 7-0 win over the Rays in which manager Gabe Kapler was ejected in the fourth inning.
Kapler was tossed by home plate umpire Chad Whitson after he argued what appeared to be a high strike call during a Meckler at-bat, although Kapler also thought Meckler was robbed by an inconsistent strike zone in the first inning.
Still, the ejection seemed to fire up the Giants, who scored three runs in the sixth inning and two more in both the seventh and eighth. Meckler earned his first career hit in the sixth and added a second one in the eighth.
SF Giants update: Kapler talks Harrison and ‘soft landings’; Yastrzemski discusses latest setback
Nearing rehab assignment, Mitch Haniger says time away from SF Giants has been ‘difficult’, ‘frustrating’
SF Giants get the best of former reliever Littell to beat Rays
SF Giants surrender 18 hits in blowout loss to Rays as offensive woes continue
SF Giants’ call-up of Wade Meckler only the latest chapter in outfield prospect’s storybook journey
“Obviously, I didn’t think those were strikes in (Meckler’s) first at-bat,” Kapler said. “Wade didn’t think they were strikes. I was obviously just irritated and reacted, but I really reacted on behalf of Meck, who deserves to be stood up for by all of us, all of the players and staff.
“I’m just happy he got his first big league knock, and then his second. I think there’s going to be many more to come.”