The clock is ticking, and the San Francisco Giants are hanging on to a playoff spot for dear life.
A dominant outing Saturday from Kevin Gausman (L, 6 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) was overshadowed by an abysmal offensive performance from Giants hitters in a 6-0 loss in Oakland Saturday afternoon.
Two straight losses have the Giants outside the playoff bubble, looking up at Cincinnati and with Milwaukee at their heels, both by a half-game with each team in action tonight. The Reds and the Brewers both hold a tiebreak advantage over the Giants, which could make hurdling into the postseason even more difficult for San Francisco.
Saturday was game two of a three game series against the Oakland Athletics. After an ugly loss Friday night, the Giants (25-26) sent Gausman to the mound against A’s (33-19) lefty Jesús Luzardo.
As was the case Friday night, the Giants went down quietly in the top of the first inning against Luzardo. Gausman recorded a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the first.
The Giants offense struggled again through the first few innings of Saturday’s game, the only difference being the A’s offense followed suit. Both Gausman and Luzardo were scoreless through three.
Gausman surrendered the game’s first run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Mark Canha walked with two outs in the inning, advancing to second on a wild pitch. Next batter, Matt Olson singled to center, scoring Canha. The A’s led 1-0.
The A’s collected just one hit off Gausman through six innings of shutout ball. He was replaced by Sam Selman in the bottom of the seventh.
Following the loss, Giants manager Gabe Kapler discussed Gausman’s outing in a losing effort:
“I thought Kevin [Gausman] looked great. I thought his location was awesome, particularly in the earlier innings. We saw a really healthy velocity from him in his normal range. We saw him rip his change up a couple of times, which was something that we wanted to see. We saw him feature his split. We really saw him carve for the first few innings of the game. As the game matured, I think he lost a little bit of command. His last inning of work we saw that he definitely lost command.”
Luzardo on the other hand, surrendered five hits to the Giants, none of which produced a run.
Kapler discussed his team’s offensive struggles against Luzardo Saturday:
“I thought Luzardo did a nice job of making pitches. I thought he deserved some credit for getting into counts where he could get those swings and misses, in particular with two strikes. That’s when i thought his best stuff came out. We’re going through a stretch here where we’re fouling our pitch off, we’re not squaring it up. We’re chasing a little bit more than we normally do. That’s leading to an inability to keep rallies going, and we really haven’t had many huge threats.”
A two-run home run from Jake Lamb in the seventh might have been the nail in the coffin for the Giants Saturday. The home run off Selman gave the A’s a 3-0 lead.
Selman was replaced by Sam Coonrod, who gave up a walk and a single followed by a two-run triple and an RBI double. The Giants bullpen imploded in the seventh, and the score was now 6-0 A’s.
After back-to-back shutout losses, Gausman revealed what the mood in the Giants clubhouse is like:
“Obviously the last two games have been rough. One thing that’s been true about our team this whole shortened season has been our resiliency. These guys come in every day, we have a couple bad games in a row, but we’re going to break out. These guys have done such a good job of putting quality at-bats together, these last two games I think it was more the pitching, I feel like their pitchers pitched really well against us. I don’t know if we matched up really great against this team as some of the other teams we played lately.”
The Giants went down quietly in the top of the eighth inning. Jarlin Garcia came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth, giving the Giants a scoreless inning out of the bullpen.
Darin Ruf singled off Lou Trivino to lead off the top of the ninth inning. A double-play ball and a fly out, and that was it. The Giants followed their 6-0 shutout Friday with another 6-0 shutout Saturday. The offense is ice-cold, and that may spell trouble down the stretch.
As of right now, the Giants sit one game below .500 and half-game behind the Cincinnati Reds for the final playoff spot in the National League.
Their final nine games consist of the final game against the A’s Sunday, three against the Colorado Rockies, and a huge, crucial series against the postseason-bound San Diego Padres to close out the season.