Reporting from ORACLE PARK
The San Francisco Giants combined an sloppy brand of baseball with a stark lack of offense, leading to a rough 4-0 loss against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night at Oracle Park.
Padres slugger Juan Soto didn’t give the Giants (78-80) any breaks, recording his 17th career multi-homer game with long balls in the first and seventh inning. Padres starter Seth Lugo fired 8-2/3 shutout innings and allowed just three hits.
The loss marks an unfortunate milestone – the Giants have been officially eliminated from postseason contention and will need to win every remaining game to finish with a winning record.
An illness circulating the Giants clubhouse the last few weeks struck Kyle Harrison as its latest casualty, scratching the rookie left-hander from what was expected to be his final start of the season. John Brebbia was called upon to be the opener with Alex Wood following behind as the bulk-innings arm – or featured pitcher, as the Giants like to call them.
Manager Gabe Kapler said Harrison was feeling under the weather heading into the Dodgers series in Los Angeles and he hasn’t been able to shake it off. Kapler says it’s an “upper respiratory issue”:
“We took him right up until maybe half an hour or so before the game, sat down with him in the office and just said, ‘Look, if you don’t feel good, we’re not going to send you out there.’ He was like absolutely down to pitch for us and kind of post for his teammates. But I let him know we had a pretty decent way to cover today’s game and it wasn’t the right time to be heroic.”
Usually a surefire lock to add a scoreless frame or two as an opener, Brebbia recorded two quick outs before allowing a first-pitch solo shot off the bat of Soto to straight away center field to make it 1-0.
In 21 career starts, Brebbia has now allowed just four earned runs in 22-2/3 innings with 20 strikeouts.
Soto wasn’t finished.
With one on in the seventh, Soto displayed a few of the offensive characteristics that place him among one of the better hitters in all of baseball. For the second time, Soto ambushed a first-pitch fastball – this one from reliever Ryan Walker – and drove it the opposite-way to left for a two-run shot to double the San Diego lead to 4-0.
From a fundamental standpoint, the Giants once again floated through the night struggling to strive at the little things.
In the bottom of the first, J.D. Davis smoked a two-out double off the bricks in right field for a sure double. When right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. struggled to pick up the carom cleanly, Davis’ ambition tried to carry him to third and he initially beat the throw, but was unable to stay on the bag and was tagged out for the third out of the inning.
Davis’s unique slide proved costly – he wound up leaving the game with a right shoulder strain, an injury that could put his season in serious jeopardy with just a few games remaining on the schedule.
A Giants mental mistake led to a San Diego run in the second. The Padres had runners on the corners with one away when Ha-Seong Kim grounded a possible double-play ball to shortstop Marco Luciano, who seemingly forgot the number of outs and threw straight to first without any hesitation. Wood, who relieved Brebbia a few hitters prior, naturally threw his hands up in frustration.
After the game, Kapler said Luciano remembered the number of outs, but just didn’t think he had a play at second:
“He says that he didn’t forget the number of outs. He didn’t feel like he had a clear shot at second base and made the decision to go to first. We got to accept his word for that. That wasn’t the best moment for us and we definitely want him to try to record the lead out and second base there and potentially even turn double play. But that was the report he gave us.”
It’s the second straight series where a Giant fielder appeared to blank on the number of outs – Mike Yastrzemski endured a slip-up at Dodger Stadium last week and wasn’t prepared when a runner attempted to tag up and score from third.
These are the type of mistakes that have haunted the Giants in the second-half – careless baseball on the defensive side of the ball while unable to string hits together. On Tuesday, they recorded just three hits off Padres starter Lugo – a single from Luis Matos and doubles from Davis and Tyler Fitzgerald formed barely an imprint.
A silver lining occurred early in the game when Kapler rose from the dugout to take the ball from Brebbia, who had completed his 1-1/3 innings as the opener. A noted jokester with experience comically questioning“are you sure”whenever Kapler takes him out, Brebbia took the gag to the next level by hiding the ball in his back pocket.
What initially looked like an awkward exchange ended up being a bout of fun, a light of amusement the club hasn’t enjoyed nearly as often as they would’ve liked this season.
The Giants close out the series against the Padres on Wednesday afternoon with lefty Sean Manaea (7-6, 4.51 ERA) taking the ball against San Diego righty Matt Waldron (1-3, 4.58 ERA). First pitch is 6:45. p.m.
A second-half skid has caused the Giants to finish up their 2023 season with some generated tension from not only the fan base, but also the personnel and players in an effort to call for accountability after an underachieving six months. Justifiably, the loyal supporters of the Giants aren’t thrilled with mediocracy and neither is ace Logan Webb. After firing a complete game on Monday against the Padres, the right-hander expressed his frustration by telling reporters he’s “sick of losing” and called for “big changes in here to really create that winning culture where we show up every year and try to win the whole thing.” Ahead of Tuesday’s action, Kapler concurred with Webb, saying he “loved it” and “completely agreed with everything he said.” Kapler also mentioned that the organization shares Webb’s sentiment. … Jakob Junis was placed on the 15-day IL with a cervical strain, effectively ending his season. Joey Bart was called up from Triple-A Sacramento and will serve as the club’s third catcher for the remainder of the year.
Steven Rissotto has covered the San Francisco Giants for SFBay since 2021. He is the host of RizzoCast, a baseball interview show featuring players, coaches, media and fans. He attends San Francisco State University and will major in Journalism and minor in education.