It all came down to this. In the final game of the 2020 regular season, the Giants were in a “win and you’re in” situation.
Except they didn’t. And they’re out.
The Giants were unable to overcome struggles from their bullpen despite big home runs from Maurcio Dubon (1-for-4, HR, RBI), Brandon Crawford (1-for-4, HR, 2 RBIs), and Wilmer Flores (1-for-4, HR, RBI), falling 5-4 to San Diego Sunday and tumbling out of the postseason entirely.
If San Francisco (29-31) won their final game against the San Diego Padres (37-23), or the Milwaukee Brewers (29-31) lost, the Giants would be postseason bound. Neither happened Sunday, and the wild card round starts Tuesday without San Francisco in the bracket.
Drew Smyly got the start for the Giants. The San Diego Padres, preparing their rotation for the playoffs, decided Sunday would be a bullpen game. Lefty reliever Adrian Morejon got the nod for the first inning.
A quiet first inning, with both teams going down quickly to kick off Sunday’s regular-season finale.
Wil Myers got the scoring started with a solo home run off Smyly in the top of the second inning. The Padres took a 1-0 lead.
The Giants answered with a home run of their own. A solo homer off the right field foul pole from Dubon tied the game 1-1.
Smly ran into trouble in the top of the fifth inning. A walk and a fielding error gave the Padres a runner in scoring position before Smyly escaped without allowing a run.
To this point he had 10 strikeouts, but his pitch count was at 98 through five innings.
After the game, Smyly (a free agent in 2021) discussed his sentiment in regards to the 2020 season:
“It’s a tough one, it’s a tough pill to swallow today. Our guys grinded all day, we gave it our all. We gave it our all all season. I think we out-performed most expectations. It’s a great group of dudes and i think we’re all disappointed today, but we’ll all look back and have a lot of really good memories about this season. I think everyone that played is going to be excited that they signed up for it, and grinded through the season.”
Tyler Rogers replaced Smyly in the top of the sixth inning. The Giants rode their bullpen the rest of this game.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Giants had two runners on after Mike Yastrzemski walked and Alex Dickerson was hit by a pitch. Both runners advanced to second and third on a ground out and were left stranded. The Giants wasted their best scoring opportunity of the game down 2-1.
More trouble for the Giants in the top of the seventh inning against Jarlin Garcia. A fielding error, a single, and a double scores another run for the Padres.
Runners now at second and third, a sac fly gave the Padres another run. Logan Webb came in for the final out in the seventh. He immediately walked a runner and gave up a double, and the Padres added another run in what was a disastrous inning for the Giants.
The Padres now lead 5-1.
Comeback time? In the bottom of the seventh, the Giants inched closer. Evan Longoria singled to lead off the inning. Two batters later Crawford launched a two run home run to right field. The Giants now trail 5-3.
Little by little, the Giants crept closer. In the bottom of the eighth inning, six outs away from their season coming to an end, Flores hit a solo home run to right field. The exact same spot Dubon hit his earlier.
Only one run for the Giants in the eight inning. At this point in the game, the Brewers had officially lost to the Cardinals, which meant the Giants were postseason bound if they were able to come back and win.
Kevin Gausman was tasked with keeping it a one-run game in the top of the ninth, and he did just that.
The Giants postseason hopes were on the line with three outs left in the game.
The Giants finish with a 29-31 record in the shortened 2020 season.
A message to Giants fans from Gabe Kapler:
“We appreciate and feel every ounce of support throughout the season. I know it was difficult to not have fans in the ballpark. Our players missed having fans around and to provide the support and energy. We missed you and its tough to not have you around. We look forward to 2021 and having you in the stands.”
Sunday concluded what (we hope) was a once-in-a-lifetime baseball season amidst a pandemic.
After the game, Mike Yastrzemski discussed the logistics on the 2020 season, and it sounded like he wasn’t the least bit surprised they were able to pull it off:
“From day one the medical staff had this place completely dialed in. They did an unbelievable job with protocols and making sure we knew exactly what was going on, and where to be at what time. Without those guys, we would have had absolutely no chance. They did a fantastic job and deserve all the credit throughout the length of the season, and making sure we were healthy and doing everything we needed to do. I wasn’t shocked because once i saw how we were handling it the first day, i knew as long as we all trusted it, and went by each step and each protocol, we would be okay.”
- In Sunday’s season finale, there were multiple strikes called on Giants hitters that were out of the strike zone, a few of them called in crucial situations with runners on base.
After the loss, Kapler discussed those calls:
“It was disappointing. I haven’t had the chance to go back and watch the game, but there were some calls that went against our guys. Definitely one or more to [Evan Longoria], one or more to [Austin Slater] as well. I understand how difficult it is to make a perfect call every time, it’s obviously tough.”
- Coming into this season, the Giants were not expected to do well at all. One win away from a playoff spot would have surprised most people before this season.
Kapler discussed the Giants overall positive season:
“We set out this season to play meaningful games until the end of the season, we did that. We played 60 meaningful games. We fought in every single one of them, we battled back from deficits and took gut punches throughout the season, but continued to fight every single day. The bullpen got better. We had young players develop this season. The goal is to get to the playoffs, the goal is to go deep into the playoffs, the goal is to win the world series. We were unable to accompliosh that goal, but there were a lot of other wins along the way, independent of our win-loss record.”
- Sunday wrapped up the first season in the post-Bruce Bochy era, and the first in the new Gabe Kapler era. After the game, Longoria discussed the differences between the two.
- Had there been fans this season, Longoria believed the result would have been different.
- Longoria had a lot of interesting things to say after the game, but the one that stuck out to me the most were his thoughts on rookie catcher Joey Bart’s season in 2020: