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Giants swept internationally

Familiar problems surface in unfamiliar territory

MLB: Mexico City Series-San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants have been swept in Mexico. As much as it is our knee-jerk reaction as a country to blame our neighbor’s to the south for whatever is frustrating us, it’s not Mexico’s fault.

Yes, balls in the air were carrying. The infield turf was quick, the outfield turf probably too trampoline-y for its own good. No ball in play felt routine to players. Still the Giants lost a game they could’ve won if they had played better, consistent baseball for the full 9 innings.

After a display of early power, San Francisco, once again, wasted an early lead and stellar outing by Alex Cobb when the Padres punctuated a come-from-behind win with a Giant slaying bloop in the 8th off the bat of Matt Carpenter.

San Diego Padres starter Yu Darvish had not given up a home run in 24 innings pitched this season.

After the 11 homer outburst in the first game of the Mexico City series—the ball accruing frequent flyer miles in the 7,000 mile altitude—that personal mark was not long for this world.

Darvish didn’t get out of the first, with the San Francisco Giants leaving the park in consecutive innings to start the game.

LaMonte Wade Jr. lined the 5th pitch of the game over the right field fence. J.D. Davis doubled Darvish’s HR total in the 2nd with an assist from the lively ballpark conditions.

The Padres first threatened San Francisco’s early 2-0 lead in the 2nd.

Nelson Cruz legged out a 1-out triple after his tailing drive sent Mike Yastrzemski into the chain link fence of center field wall. With any pop-up threatening to sail 450 feet or a routine grounder bounding 10 feet over an infielder’s head off the concrete hard turf field, Alex Cobb needed to miss bats. He got 1B Matt Carpenter swinging on an outside knuckle curve before shutting Austin Nola down on an elevated 96 MPH fastball.

Crisis averted—for now. The Padres pieced together another potential outburst in the 3rd with Cobb handing out a free base to Trent Grisham on a hit-by-pitch before the lineup turned over to Tatis again. Grisham took second on a ball in the dirt and advanced to third on a bounding ball fielded behind the bag that 2B Brett Wisely wisely pocketed (nice!), freezing the runners.

With the corners occupied, Cobb was staring down the barrel of Manny Machado, Juan Soto and Xander Boegarts. Runs felt imminent. But Cobb once again reached back and bagged another K with another knuckle curve before inducing the exceedingly rare, thought to be impossible 7,000 foot double play ball.

The next pitch after the commercial break, Mitch Haniger launched 460 feet into the left field bleachers.

San Francisco then set up their own first-and-third fandango with a double from Michael Conforto and single from J.D. Davis. Yaz found a hole up the middle for an RBI single to push their lead to a somewhat comfortable 4 - 0 lead.

Through 4 innings, Cobb handed out only one free bag and only 2 of the Padres’ balls in play were elevated off the ground. He had eliminated the less than ideal conditions from factoring into the result. No cheap, home run “blast” with a 93% chance of being a nondescript can of corn on Cobb’s watch. (That blow of irony would fall later).

His fortunes quickly dipped in the 5th. Having passed the 70 pitches thrown mark, the warm afternoon coupled with standing on a plane of turf soaked heat, the pitch clock pace, and thin air, Cobb started to look gassed.

Matt Carpenter led off with a loud line drive single that would’ve been a double if it had not one-hopped the wall and passed. Cobb then put himself in a tough 3-1 hole to Austin Nola before the catcher halved the San Francisco lead with a 2-run home run to center.

Grisham followed with a fly out to deep center before Tatis floated a double into the left-center gap. Cobb was able to K Machado for the third time, but the third baseman took a chunk of the pitcher with him, forcing him to throw 9 pitches. Soto then worked a 3-1 count, then kicked Cobb when he was down, singling in Tatis on a hard struck grounder into right for San Diego’s third run.

Cobb broke down Bogaerts to close out the inning, but the starting pitcher returned to the dugout hot, swearing and chewing out his glove after San Diego’s crooked number.

Through 5 innings, Cobb allowed 3 runs on 7 hits, striking out 7 and walking 0 with 1 HBP.

With a little time and perspective, the pros will outweigh the cons. Cobb houdini-ed out of some tough situations, struck out Machado and Bogaerts 5 times, allowed 3 extra base hits in a firecracker ballpark, and walked off the mound with the lead still intact.

Darvish’s outing didn’t start great, but it ended superbly.

He did well to limit damage on big swings from Giants hitters. Only allowing 3 runs on 3 home runs is literally the best outcome in that scenario. After Yaz’s 0-out RBI single in the 4th, Darvish struck out 7 of the next 10 hitters he faced, the only base runner: a single from Yaz in the 6th.

Darvish’s final line: 6 IP, 4 runs, 9 hits, 0 walks, and 9 strikeouts.

San Francisco’s bullpen had some makeup work to do. In Saturday’s game, Scott Alexander, Tyler Rogers and John Brebbia were tagged for 6 runs on 5 hits and 4 walks in 2 innings of work.

Handed a slim 1-run lead, the apology tour started out well. Alexander pitched a clean 6th with 1 K. Brebbia K’ed 3 in the 7th. Rogers took the mound in the 7th to face the meat of the Padres order. He struck out Machado to start the inning, but after Soto waved through two wiffle balls, he worked a walk. After 15 walks yesterday (10 by SF pitching) the free bag to Soto was the first base on balls either team had given up in the game. Bogaerts then singled and Gabe Kapler swapped Rogers for a well-rested Camilo Doval.

Jake Cronenworth singled home Soto to tie the game. Then the inning got terrible.

With two outs and light shining from the end of the tunnel, Matt Carpenter, who looked overwhelmed by Doval’s triple digit heat, fouled off three pitches before lifting a pop-up into shallow center field.

As we all know, pop-ups in Mexico City are the devil’s work.

The ball was in the air for soooooooooooooooooooo long. Yet, no one was settling under it. San Francisco’s outfielders were positioned deep, and maybe the spin on the ball with the unfamiliar carry in the park made it a trickier read, but for how long the ball was in the air it felt like only a matter of time before someone called dibs on it.

That call never came.

Left fielder Haniger was nowhere to be found. Estrada at shortstop ventured out but didn’t have a great angle to it. Yaz in center, after taking an initial step back, felt a ‘pop’ in his leg, but pushed his way diagonally forward towards shallow left-center. He had the ball in view and, after hurtling across what felt like three-quarters of the outfield on one-and-a-half legs, lunged to make the catch. The full-extension forward dive was majestic—the ball landed in his glove, but the moment didn’t last long enough for fans to marvel at one of the better catches a defender could make—before he made contact with the unyielding turf. The ball popped out and as 2-runs crossed the plate. Padres now in the lead 6 - 4.

Carpenter’s double had an expected batting average of .060.

Adding injury to insult, Yaz came up gripping his thigh and limping. He left the game with a left hamstring strain. He’ll get an MRI tomorrow to see the severity of the issue, but the outfielder will definitely miss playing time. 27th man Brett Wisely will be the lefty replacement for Yaz while Austin Slater will continue to field the position against RHP.

The Padres scored 6 unanswered runs and the Giants were only able to muscle 1-hit in 5 innings.

Like the days of old (read: early-to-mid-April) San Francisco spoiled an early lead and a good start from Alex Cobb. The bats went cold, found God and got hole-y, and relief pitching couldn’t get out of tough situations in key moments.

You can’t ignore the extraneous circumstances that dealt the Giants this international loss. But that isn’t the whole story. Some of the early worries for this team reared their head in Sunday’s loss. Those kinds of struggles are going to hurt you no matter what country you’re playing in.