Akin to the 8th in game 160, the 6th lingered well-past welcome in 161.
The San Diego Padres scored 4 runs on 5 hits in the inning as San Francisco Giants reliever Jharel Cotton languished on the mound, unable to maintain course in a tight 1-run pitcher’s duel between Alex Cobb and Sean Manaea.
Cobb, who volunteered to pitch on short rest for the first time in his career after Carlos Rodón was scratched, carried out his final start of the season by pitching 5 innings of 1 run ball.
He worked around 7 hits with a tantalizing split that most Padres hitters couldn’t keep from waving at. Of the 24 swings offered, 15 whiffed. Coupled with a heavy sinker, Cobb K’ed 7 in the 5 innings of work. An RBI single from Manny Machado in the 3rd was the only blemish on a solid season’s close.
But all was quiet from the Giants’ bat-side.
After Austin Slater walked to lead off the game and Thairo Estrada singled, Manaea cordoned off the bases for the next 6 innings. In all, Padres pitching retired 20 consecutive hitters—LaMonte Wade Jr.’s walk to lead off the 8th finally broke through the tape, just with a 5-run deficit hovering over his helmet.
Wade would eventually score on a Ford Proctor ground-out, advancing to 2nd on an error. Bryce Johnson would drive Ford home with a flare to left center, wrapping up SF’s scoring for the evening.
With the 6-2 loss the Giants are staring down the barrel of sandwiching one of their meatiest seasons in franchise history between two chewy multigrain loaf heels of losing seasons.
What’s the difference between an 80-82 and 81-81 season? Let me crunch some numbers realllll quick…yeah, it’s one game. One game can be huge if you’re playing for the pride of a division flag or in a best of 5 division series. One game has done a lot of emotional heavy-lifting for Giants fans as of late, but where we’re sitting now, one game is about the difference between six or a half-dozen.
It’s pretty apparent that Gabe Kapler and the front office aren’t bothered by chasing that .500 win percentage. They sidelined Logan Webb this past week and chose to cap Rodón’s season prior to last night’s first pitch.
Getting nit-picky about one game is a right earned by a successful ball club. The Giants weren’t that this year, but thanks to this September surge, the autopsy of what worked and what didn’t could get a lot more targeted in the offseason.
Watching your team play good baseball is a reward in itself. I know there is no substantial difference between 80 and 81 wins, but I want one more. Mostly to cleanse the palate after Tuesday’s game.