San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler (left) greets Luis Gonzalez after scoring against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park back on Mon Apr 25th . It’s something the Giants manager is hoping to see more often out of the team that had been struggling at the plate (AP file photo)
By Jeremy Harness
SAN FRANCISCO – One of the big questions for the Giants heading into Friday’s game was whether or not they could tally as many runs as they have active COVID cases.
Early in the season, there were plenty of runs to go around, but as player absences have piled up and the competition has gotten a little tougher, scoring has been scarce, to say the least.
The Giants didn’t exactly set the world on fire with their bats on Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals, but they did show some signs of coming out of their slump. They mustered a pair of runs on Friday in a 3-2 loss at Oracle Park, which isn’t very much, but considering what has transpired lately, it is an improvement.
After starting the season 14-7 and thus owning one of the best records in baseball, the Giants have since hit the skids hard. In fact, they had lost four straight games prior to Friday, and they had scored exactly one run in each of the past three contests.
“One of the things we did very well last year was kind of kept the line moving,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We found ways to get on base, even when we weren’t driving the baseball, via the walk or a clean single here and there.
“We’re not seeing the string of base hits, we’re not seeing the string of walks. Right now, we’re not string together our best at-bats consistently enough.”
There are a couple of theories to kick around here, the first of which has to do with the team’s recent health woes. Third baseman Evan Longoria has yet to suit up for the Giants this season while recovering from hand surgery, and leadoff hitter LaMonte Wade, Jr. made his season debut Friday night after recovering from knee inflammation he had been dealing with since spring training.
“LaMonte’s swings were really on time,” Kapler said. “I know he didn’t end up with hits or walks, but his swings were excellent and was very aggressive in the batter’s box.”
Meanwhile, several key players have recently contracted COVID-19 and have also been out of the lineup. First baseman Brandon Belt and reliever Dominic Leone both tested positive for the virus last Friday and are both on the active COVID list. Outfielder Mike Yastrzemski was forced to miss seven games due to his own battle with the virus before returning to the lineup Friday night.
Another factor has been a significantly-tougher schedule. The first two weeks of the season saw the Giants feast against teams such as Miami, San Diego and Washington, clubs not exactly known for their pitching prowess.
However, this week has been a completely different story, when the Giants were swept in a two-game series in Los Angeles and have dropped the first two of a four-game weekend series here against the Cardinals.
Despite losing Friday night’s contest, an encouraging sign came in the bottom of the sixth, when Darin Ruf’s pinch-hit single drove in two runs and tied the score at 2-2.
“It’s good to have a little more depth, so that we have some explosiveness off the bench,” Kapler said.