The vibes are off in San Francisco right now.
Being swept by the Dodgers wasn’t great, but there were takeaways, nuggets, feel-goods that one could blindly apply to their sore and fretting psyche to make themselves okay with whatever is happening in the Giants baseball universe right now. The Dodgers are a really good team. Yes, it’s normal to be swept by really good teams. Darin Ruf was hitting home runs. Yes. The offense was still present. The bullpen was no good, but that’s fixable. Right? Arms can be rested. Arms can be attained. Yes yes yes yes. Right?
Carlos Rodón pieced together a dominant but frustrating performance in which he allowed 3 hits over 6 innings, while striking out 10—yet Arizona maximized the damage with 5 runs spread across two home runs.
In the 2nd, Sergio Alcantara hit a 2-run homer into the first row in left just out of reach of a back-pedaling Darin Ruf. Arizona had led off the inning with a walk and was almost erased by a double play but a speedy Jake McCarthy was able to beat the throw to first and extend the inning.
Alcantara’s homer came with two outs and Rodón ahead in the count with two strikes. The knock certainly surprised the pitcher. Most batter contact does. Gabe Kapler came out and the play was reviewed to make sure there was no fan interference—wishful thinking, or just a moment of desperation looking to find the reins again and reclaim some control over this spiraling situation.
Whether they could believe it or not, San Francisco had to play their way out of a hole again. And they did! Briefly!
Wilmer Flores answered in the top of the 3rd with a 2-run blast of his own. He knows Chase Field. He knew it was gone and, uncharacteristically, turned to the dugout and let out a monosyllabic and emphatic: Let’s go my brothers! Make haste! Alarum! Alarum!
Wilmer knew this ball was gone pic.twitter.com/SPRgU7hXIO— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) July 27, 2022
Eh—the call to arms wasn’t answered. The next inning, Rodón put the first two batters he faced on base by way of a walk and HBP. The threat of the self-inflicted rally appeared to be tempered when he struck out the next two batters he faced, before surrendering a 3-run homer to Christian Walker.
Two hits. Five runs. San Francisco handed Arizona a couple of blank checks and they cashed in. Neither pitch lifted for a home run was bad or mis-located. Walker was looking for a middle-in fastball and he got it and he didn’t miss it.
Rodón’s pitch to Alcantara could’ve been more up in the zone, but it was still 96 paint on the inside. Alcantara just got his barrel to it. Tip your cap. Swear and scream into the rafters. Throw your glove in the dugout. Kick a bat into the shins of one of the few everyday players on the team.
Carlos Rodón furiously kicked a bat which hit Thairo Estrada in the leg pic.twitter.com/8XXIe2iJtG— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) July 27, 2022
Rodón apologized immediately to Thairo Estrada. He called the act selfish and stupid in postgame interviews. Kapler met with the pitcher. Both Estrada and Flores, who came over to check on the infielder, said everything was fine but they didn’t want to talk about it.
It was the kind of incident that could only happen on a team that is not on the same page. The dugout feels quiet, eyes are glazing over, going cross-eyed, rolling back into their skulls. Everyone is in their own multiverse of frustrations, half-aware of the other air breathers around them.
We’re at the fun point of a losing streak where it feels like winning a baseball game is akin to splitting an atom. The Giants are struggling and the (baseball) universe is designed to perpetuate struggle at all costs.
What’s going to pull this team from the slump? Brandon Belt swung the bat well yesterday, notching two hits off left-handed pitching. O’captain, my captain? —is he ready to take the helm? Or is it some flexible thinking from the coaching staff. Will Kapler start to forgo some favorable match-ups on paper to try and help veteran bats get their groove back? Or maybe the clubhouse just needs some fresh faces and new voices. A deadline pickup? A shiny glove who can hold his own with a bat doesn’t seem too much to ask for. A boost in bullpen confidence? Some relief for relief?
All of the above. This team has got too many issues for there to be one silver bullet cure all—but finding solutions for most, some, one or two, shouldn’t be impossible? Right? Am I really going to end this recap with a question?