By Evan Webeck
SAN DIEGO — The Giants came here with a much-needed chance to make up ground in their playoff push. A sweep one way could have pulled them within 3.5 games of the Padres and the final National League wild card spot. The other direction would have sent them 9.5 games back and maybe put an official end to their postseason hopes.
Ultimately, with a back-and-forth 13-7 loss Wednesday afternoon, they pushed. By dropping the last two contests of this three-game series, the Giants fell one game further back than where they started, a season-high 7.5 games separating them from playoff position with 51 left to play.
“Obviously, if you can come in and sweep a team like the Padres on the road, then that puts you in a good position,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “It’s an ask that we’re capable of, but it’s probably not the most likely scenario in any given series to go on the road against a very, very good team and come out with three victories. It’s not good enough and we’re not happy with the results here in San Diego, but we’re going to keep fighting coming out of the off day.”
After Wednesday’s loss, the Giants’ playoff odds, according to FanGraphs, dipped below 3% for the first time this season.
52.5% as recently as July 20
70.9% on June 14
79%, their high-water mark, on May 13 pic.twitter.com/Qu80jZuh4o
— Evan Webeck (@EvanWebeck) August 11, 2022
While the Padres loaded up at the trade deadline, the Giants stood pat. They didn’t upgrade their rotation. They did nothing to improve their defense. And they added no bullpen reinforcements.
All three areas came back to bite them in the series finale, a game which they led twice but immediately blew with poor pitching and defensive miscues in the bottom half of each inning.
After taking a 4-0 lead in the top of the third, Giants starter Jakob Junis allowed seven straight batters to reach and four runs to score before he recorded an out in the bottom half. After rallying for a 7-6 advantage in the top of the sixth, relievers Yunior Marte and Jarlín García combined to allow seven straight two-out hits that led to seven runs.
The Giants could have escaped the sixth with only a 10-7 deficit, but after Trent Grisham beat out an infield single for their fifth straight hit, Brandon Belt overthrew catcher Austin Wynns, allowing Ha-Seong Kim to score before nine-hole-hitting catcher Austin Nola swatted the Padres’ second home run of the inning on the following at-bat.
“We’d like to be able to continue to answer back,” Kapler said. “It gets tougher as those numbers get more and more crooked, bigger and bigger and it becomes more challenging to come from behind.”
Aside from the nightmare sixth, the Giants appeared to somewhat solve their defensive issues this series — Luis González provided another highlight Wednesday with a leaping grab in left field to rob Manny Machado of extra bases — but more concerns rose out of those ashes.
First and foremost must be Junis, who on Wednesday started his fourth game since returning from the injured list and has yet to find the same form. Part of the reason the Giants didn’t add starting pitching at the trade deadline — even shipping away depth in Matthew Boyd — was the emergence of Junis.
“We talked about how we really like our rotation,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said at the time. “That wasn’t necessarily going to be an area to add for us. … We have one of the best rotations in baseball now that Jake Junis is back and throwing well.”
Problem is, Junis isn’t throwing well and hasn’t since returning from the IL. His velocity is up and he doesn’t know why, but he does know that it’s making his slider a less effective pitch. Junis, who relies on the slider more than any other starter in the majors, admitted he hasn’t regained a feel for the pitch since his IL stint.
The break and speed of the slider have changed to such a degree that eight of his offerings Wednesday were classified by Statcast as cutters. Junis confirmed he does not throw a cutter.
“Those are just sliders,” Junis said. “I’m trying to get on (them) and throw hard and get them to break. They’re just shorter, tighter and not breaking as much. … I don’t exactly know why.”
In his worst outing of the season Wednesday, Junis allowed nearly as many runs (six) as he recorded outs (seven). In five appearances (four starts) since returning from the IL, Junis has a 7.16 ERA, compared to the sterling 2.63 figure he posted before straining his hamstring on June 10.
For only the eighth time in 44 games scoring at least five runs, the Giants lost.
As a whole, Giants starters have a 5.83 ERA this month, the third-worst mark in the majors for August.
The bullpen, which gave up seven more runs Wednesday, entered the day with the ninth-worst ERA in the majors this month.
One deadline addition is looking like an upgrade: J.D. Davis, acquired from the Mets for Darin Ruf, gave the Giants a 1-0 lead with an opposite-field solo shot in the second and reached base in three of his five trips to the plate. Davis has homered three times in seven games with San Francisco.
The Giants have six more games left with the Padres — three at Oracle Park to finish this month and three more in San Diego to end the season — and have plenty of work left to do. Even if they sweep their remaining meetings, the Giants will need help to close a 7.5-game gap.
“These games definitely are big against them,” Junis said. “But I wasn’t really thinking about that at all today. I just wanted to go out there and try to give the team a chance to win and I didn’t do that. The offense came back and took the lead. Just as a pitching staff we couldn’t do it today.”
- An MRI revealed an ankle sprain for catcher Joey Bart, who sustained the injury in his last at-bat Monday night. Kapler said Bart is considered day-to-day and that the Giants are hopeful that he can avoid a stint on the injured list. After being fully unavailable Tuesday, Bart was an option Wednesday if Austin Wynns had gone down injured, Kapler said.
- The Giants announced their pitching plans for their upcoming weekend series with the Pirates. They will stay on rotation following Thursday’s off day, meaning Carlos Rodón will start Friday, followed by Logan Webb and Alex Wood on Saturday and Sunday.
Source: Paradise Post