Sports of The Times: Giants Try to Hang On in an Inelegant Playoff Race

Hunter Strickland waited to be pulled from the game in the ninth inning Tuesday night.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — By the ninth inning Tuesday, as San Diego players scampered around the bases and batted balls took black cat bounces, it began to dawn on the San Francisco Giants and their fans that nothing good was going to happen this evening.

The Giants’ latest nominee for closer could not land many fastballs inside the strike zone. So the manager summoned Steven Okert, a broad-faced rookie, to get the final out. He reared and tossed a handsome fastball and obtained two strikes. Then he released the ball a final time.

Ryan Schimpf, 28 and all of 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, a career minor leaguer with power and not much plate discipline, connected. The ball arced high into the night air and Gorkys Hernandez, the Giants center fielder ran gamely back and back. Then he stopped and watched the ball land above him in the stands. He touched his forehead to the wall.

Mighty Schimpf had banged a three-run homer and put the Padres up, 6-4. After…

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