The Giants are playing terribly right now. After a building some momentum heading into the All-Star break, San Francisco has returned from the hiatus lifeless. After losing 7-0 on Monday to the Diamondbacks, they fell to .500 (48-48) for the fourth time this season and extended their losing streak to five games.
Every game gives me a paragraph of Giants defensive mistakes. Austin Slater misplayed a flyball that was ruled a double. He also overthrew the cutoff man several times, allowing runners to advance to second on singles. Joey Bart dropped a foul popup. Austin Wynns, who replaced Bart halfway through the game in a double-switch, was tricked into trying to back pick Josh Rojas at second base, which allowed Rojas to steal third.
Offensively, Merril Kelly shut down the Giants in 8 brilliant innings, allowing just a handful of baserunners. Luis Gonzalez ended Kelly’s perfect start with a perfectly placed grounder down the right-field line for a leadoff double in the sixth inning, but with one out, he was doubled up on a soft linedrive by Mike Yastrzemski. He reached again a few innings later on a well-executed bunt single but was picked off.
Overshadowed by the end result, Jakob Junis was effective in his first start since June. He was removed from the game in the fifth inning, as the Giants watch his pitch count in his return, but he had not allowed a run through 4.1 innings.
Coming out of the bullpen, Jarlin García, though, allowed the inherited runner to score alongside another. He faced three batters without recording an out and Kapler turned to John Brebbia, who limited the damage. Sam Long continued struggling to miss bats and was BABIP’d a bit in his lone inning of work, surrendering three runs which raised his ERA to 3.46. The Giants pushed 22-year-old Gregory Santos to finish the game, a move I’m not big on given his history with shoulder soreness. After one shutout inning, he allowed two runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Still, while Giants Twitter understandably devolves into frustration with the preventable mistakes, I can’t help but wonder if we are ignoring an even bigger problem. Yes, the Giants defense is abominable right now, although David Villar did make an amazing diving play at third base. The baserunning mistakes only add insult to injury. But the biggest problem right now still might be even simpler: the Giants are not hitting.
In their 22 games this July, despite a couple offensive explosions, the Giants have scored at least five runs just 6 times. While Merril Kelly has had a particular ownage over the Giants during his career, it’s not like he’s the only pitcher giving their lineup problems. Manager Gabe Kapler is under the microscope right now, when seemingly every bullpen, pinch hitter, and lineup decision is leading to a bad result. I’ve been critical of several myself, and I’m sure you have too. Still, I’ll admit it’s also a lot easier for those decisions to gain attention when an offense is not scoring runs.
We’ll see if that changes tomorrow when the Giants face Arizona again. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 PM Pacific.
If you’re looking for a ray of hope, here’s what I got for you:
Again, as per some earlier conversations, I'm not saying it's likely to happen, but Atlanta was 48-50 on this date last year. They were 3rd in their division (5.0 GB) and were 6th in a 2-team WC (9.0 GB). #SFGameUp is 48-47, 3rd in division (16.5 GB), 5th in a 3-team WC (2.0 GB). https://t.co/ztMsGnplMj— Marc Delucchi (@maddelucchi) July 24, 2022
The Giants are still in better position than Atlanta was last season at this point in time. I’m not saying the Giants are going to win the World Series, but with expanded playoffs that eliminated the play-in game for Wild Cards, reaching the postseason is still well within reach. It may not seem possible right now, but far crazier things have happened in MLB history.