Giants split D-backs series after frustrating loss, controversial call

Giants split D-backs series after frustrating loss, controversial call originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO — It was a sunny 71 degrees at first pitch on Sunday, and the vibes at Oracle Park might have been the best of the year.

About half of the fans in attendance wore Logan Webb basketball jerseys, a giveaway that Webb’s teammates went all-in on. Many of the pitchers wore the jerseys as they warmed up in the morning, Matt Chapman had one on for his infield work and Webb even donned one for his daily game of catch.

By the end of the day, however, the mood had turned sour.

The Giants lost 5-3 to the Arizona Diamondbacks, settling for a series split. They ended the day without manager Bob Melvin and third base coach Matt Williams, both of whom got ejected in the top of the ninth after a missed call.

With runners on the corners, Kevin Newman appeared to strike out on a knuckle curve from rookie reliever Nick Avila, but home plate umpire Stu Scheurwater ruled that Newman tipped the pitch before it hit the dirt. Newman insisted he made contact, and Scheurwater waved his hands to rule it a foul tip as catcher Patrick Bailey jumped in disbelief.

Replays appeared to show Newman never made contact, although that’s a call that is often made by umpires who feel they heard a foul tip. That’s what Scheurwater felt happened, and the Giants vehemently disagreed. Their anger boiled over when Newman took advantage of his second chance to hit an RBI double.

“It was strike three,” Melvin said. “In my opinion.”

Melvin said he was arguing because of both what he saw and Bailey’s reaction.

“It looked to me like it was fairly clear,” he said. “Now, that’s probably the worst angle you can have is sitting behind it. I think typically they do check or whatever, but it looked to me just from the naked eye [that he didn’t touch it], but I’m not an umpire.”

The call was the focus for fans as they left the ballpark, but it was far from the only issue for the Giants as they failed to build on Saturday’s thrilling win. Most of the other damage was self-inflicted.

The biggest play of the ninth, for instance, had nothing to do with Scheurwater. With a runner on and no outs in what was then a one-run game, Jake McCarthy put down a bunt. Matt Chapman made an athletic play to cut the ball off and threw to second to get the lead runner, but Tyler Fitzgerald couldn’t handle the throw. Instead of having a runner on first and one out, the Diamondbacks had runners on first and third.

It also was notable that the Giants had just two hits off Slade Cecconi, a Triple-A call-up who took over for the injured Merrill Kelly about three hours before first pitch. They appeared unprepared for Cecconi, who cruised through six, allowing just an infield single and a Mike Yastrzemski homer.

Avila dealt with some bad breaks, but had another play gone differently, he probably wouldn’t have even seen the mound. After the Diamondbacks intentionally walked Yastrzemski to load the bases in the seventh, Melvin called for pinch-hitter Jorge Soler, who bounced out to third to end the threat.

“We signed him for a reason. He’s a run producer,” Melvin said. “I felt like it was a good spot for him.”

It was a game-changing spot, but Soler walked back to the dugout still sitting on six RBI for the season. Melvin took his best shot with that decision, and it didn’t lead to a run. A few minutes later, he was walking back to the clubhouse with Williams.

The ejection was Melvin’s second in 23 games and 61st of his career, which is the second most among active managers to Bruce Bochy, who has 82 of them. The Giants weren’t able to celebrate after Melvin left, but they at least appreciated the effort on a day that ended with plenty of frustration.

“It’s obviously tough to finish the game without him,” Yastrzemski said. “But sometimes you’ve got to say what you’ve got to say.”

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