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Giants late rally can’t overcome disastrous start

San Francisco dropped the series opener 6-4.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Houston Astros Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

For a brief moment, it looked like the San Francisco Giants might actually pull off a win over the Houston Astros. After trailing 6-1 entering the ninth inning, the Giants had scored 3 runs and put the tying run on base.

But when Evan Longoria’s tepid fly ball fluttered back to earth and into the warm embrace of a leather fist, and the scorebook was closed for the night, you went back to remembering what the game really felt like.

As with most things in life, you can look at it from a glass half full or a glass half empty perspective.

In the half-empty glass is the fact that the Giants played like butt for eight innings, nearly got no-hit, and exhibited the type of defense you expect the tennis team to play when the high school baseball team recruits them for a scrimmage.

In the half-full glass is the fact that the Giants showed fight, ended up scoring a respectable amount of runs, and shockingly came a double away from tying the game.

I am almost always a glass half full person, but when the glass is bone dry for 3 hours when I’m just trying to enjoy my damn evening, it’s hard to feel too rosy about spending 15 minutes with a glass that’s half full, no matter what you put in it.

It’s a futile exercise to try and butterfly effect a baseball game. For as objective and calculating as the sport may be, it just doesn’t feel genuine to to say that if you change one element, everything else would stay the same.

But still. It’s hard not to wonder about what might have happened had the Giants defense not played like a bunch of Little Leaguers that accidentally partook in the adult juice boxes. They had three errors, and honestly, that represents their defensive performance about as honestly as your wallet represents your financial stability when you pull the last remaining $200 out of your bank account before heading to Vegas for the weekend.

The Giants were not just bad defensively; they were useless. Everyone who wore a glove in the game owes Logan Webb a six-pack of beer, because this is what happened to him in the third inning.

That doesn’t accurately depict how bad it was. There was a catcher’s interference (the team’s fourth of the season — one more than Buster Posey has had in his entire career) and single plays that should have been double plays. There was a general feeling emanating from Webb — a feeling mirrored by everyone watching the game — that he had to strike batters out if he wanted to get out of the inning.

It was a four-run third, and it put the game seemingly out of reach, even if that didn’t prove to be true. And it’s hard not to wonder what might have happened without some of those mistakes.

On that note, Donovan Solano has been the second-best position player for the Giants (by a comfortable margin), and one of only a few bright spots that the team has had.

But he had two errors from third base, and they were his fourth and fifth of the year. He should be playing almost every day, but there is absolutely no reason that he should spend so much as one inning on the left side of the infield, especially in a year with a universal designated hitter.

After possibly costing his team a win on Sunday by taking Kevin Gausman out too early, Gabe Kapler once again made a head-scratching managerial move. Perhaps it was fueled by the criticism, as this time he left someone in too long.

Webb wasn’t pitching horribly, but the defensive foibles had resulted in 36 pitches in the third inning alone. He sat at 70 pitches after three innings, and had just had the highest-stress inning a Giants pitcher has had all year.

With that workload on an arm that has had Tommy John surgery, there was really no need to bring him out for the fourth. But Kapler did.

I don’t get it.

For the longest time it looked like the Giants would get no-hit. Lance McCullers Jr. was dealing, and the Giants were the absolute epitome of feckless. Things finally changed in the seventh inning when Donovan Solano extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a double.

Solano may have been a mess with the glove, but he continues to be unstoppable with the bat, going 2-4 with a pair of doubles to move his slash line to .458/.476/.661.

The Giants finally got on the board in the eighth inning, when Austin Slater mashed his third home run of the year.

Slater has always projected as a platoon guy, but he’s making a case to play against right-handed pitchers. He’s now 5-18 with 1 home run, 1 triple, 2 walks, and 2 hit by pitches against righties this year.

But the ninth inning is when it got interesting, as the Giants fought tooth and nail for the first time all game after having just a pair of hits entering the inning. It started with a Mike Yastrzemski walk, and then moved to a single by Alex Dickerson, which led to Solano’s second double of the night.

Brandon Belt and Wilmer Flores flew out, but singles by Brandon Crawford and Slater brought the go-ahead run to the plate before the Giants hopes and dreams came crashing to their dripping wet cleats.

I wanna get that, I wanna get that, I wanna get that.

A few final notes before I let you go wash this game down.

  • Jarlin García made his Giants debut. He got in trouble, allowing a walk and a double to start things off, but worked his way out of that jam without allowing a run. He was aided by a stellar defensive play by Brandon Belt, which served as the one nice defensive play of the game.

He was not, however, aided by the ump that seemingly didn’t know he was allowed to call strikes.

  • Belt and Chadwick Tromp both struck out looking twice. One of Belt’s was highly predictable.
  • The Giants have now secured a losing record for their 10-game road trip. They have two games left to salvage as much as they can. Going 4-6 will still feel like a win of sorts. Going 3-7 or 2-8 will not.