We are at the point in the season when most San Francisco Giants sportswriters spend more of their time thinking and writing about the Los Angeles Dodgers than they do about the team they are paid to cover.
I am very guilty of this.
In past seasons, this has occurred deep into October when we suddenly find ourselves huge fans of people like Brett Phillips and incredibly frustrated with, well, the entire 2020 Atlanta Braves organization.
But we are still in September and we have been in September and we will be in September for a little bit longer and the anxiety has set in, matured, and become a part of biological make-up now. This next week and a half will continue to be defined by constant phone checking, tab juggling, Gameday refreshing, and scoreboard rubbernecking.
Sports psychologists will tell us it is silly to worry about the outcome of a game we have no control over. Gabe Kapler in the post-game locker room talk is certainly telling the Giants players that exact same thing: Worry about the game we’re playing. Win our game before we stress about someone else winning theirs.
It is good advice that athletes should take—but I am not one of those and Thursday was defined by no-swing calls like this.
Will Dodgers fans reference this check swing with as much vigor? Only time ... will tell pic.twitter.com/FBDNwiz6U6— Grant Brisbee (@GrantBrisbee) September 23, 2021
That’s a swing. Trea Turner should’ve been called out. The Rockies should’ve won. The Dodgers get all the breaks, they’re so lucky, it’s totally unfair...I scream into my couch pillow as my cat nods in understanding. I know what she’s going to say. She doesn’t have to say it, but she does: Darin Ruf. Baseball is guided by poetic justice. Remember Darin Ruf.
Kapler’s right. My cat is right. But all I see is Dodger blue. When Fernando Tatis steps into the box I see Mookie Betts. Eric Hosmer I see Max Muncy. Jake Cronenworth I see Chris Taylor.
The San Diego Padres have played themselves out of postseason contention and are now just proxies for the team up the I-5.
Unfortunately for the Giants, the Padres are suddenly playing like them too, winning 7-6 in ten innings on Thursday.
The Padres put up four first inning runs against a wild and uncomfortable 45 pitches from Logan Webb, who walked two, hit a batter in an 0-2 count with the bases-loaded and surrendered consecutive two-out RBI singles.
Webb was able to settle down after that and kept the Padres from threatening through four innings while the Giants bats leapfrogged into the lead.
Mike Yastrzemski hit a two-run homer in the second.
Yaz cuts the lead in half pic.twitter.com/3JtONizPOV— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) September 23, 2021
Austin Slater hit a pinch-hit, three run homer in the sixth.
Austin Slater gives the Giants the lead‼️ pic.twitter.com/O5TtQdEmwL— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) September 23, 2021
Slater’s tater was the Giants 17th pinch hit homer of the season and tied the MLB all-time record with the 2016 St. Louis Cardinals.
That was the 17th pinch-hit homer by the Giants, matching the MLB record set by the 2016 Cardinals. Kapler wasn't afraid to have Slater hit for Wade Jr. and it paid off.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 23, 2021
At that point in the afternoon, the Giants lead was supported by the Rockies tagging Max Scherzer for 5 runs in Denver.
It was feasible the Giants could go up three games in the division with nine games left. It was feasible that the Giants were on the side of the angels...
But then time passed...
The middle innings ended up being an exchange of blows that brought San Francisco back to earth.
The Padres knocked back-to-back solo shots off Jose Quintana with two outs in the bottom of the inning before Tommy LaStella hit an RBI two out double to knot the game at 6 a piece.
During that tussle, the Dodgers, 1,077 miles away, tied the game in the 9th before winning it in the 10th.
The Padres have gone back-to-back off Jose Quintana to take the lead in the sixth. At about the same time, the Dodgers tied it up at Coors Field.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 23, 2021
Another 60 seconds have elapsed. Giants tied their game, Dodgers took the lead in theirs.— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) September 23, 2021
The Giants were unable to score again and lost on a Vincent Carintini grounder that scored the Manfred runner in the 10th.
Giants blinked. The NL West lead is back to one.
Nine games remain in the 2021 season. There is not much room for error.
The Giants just need to focus on the games they have control over. It’s good advice.