Breaking Even: Giants win 8-1, finish season at .500 for the first time in franchise history

By Morris Phillips

Manager Gabe Kapler knows this situation all too well. The Giants franchise hasn’t ever experienced a break-even, season finish in their history dating back to 1883.

Finishing at .500 (81-81) one season after winning 107 games isn’t ideal, but it is history. The Giants finish to 2022 marks just the fifth time a 100-win club has finished the following season without a winning record. The Giants may have not wanted that distinction, but they’ll take this one: they’re the first team since the 1925 Cardinals to be as many as eight games below .500 with 16 games remaining to finish .500 or better. Beating the Padres 8-1 on Wednesday gave them a 12-4 finish, and a clear sign that the club is engaged, not splintering, under Kapler’s leadership.

Some good, some bad. But more good than bad, just ask the manager.

Kapler has five seasons leading a big league club under his belt–the last three in San Francisco–and his 2019 Phillies team also finished 81-81. Conversely, that club lost 12 of its final 17 to finish that season at .500, and in his first season in Philly (2018) Kapler’s club led the NL East in early August only to win just 16 of their last 49 and finish with a losing record (80-82).

On the final day of 2019, the Phillies fell behind the Marlins 4-0 only to rally and come up short in a 4-3 loss. Eight times that day, Phillies’ hitters came up empty with runners in scoring position when one, successful at-bat could have pulled them even with the Marlins and given them a chance to win, and post a winning record. The Citizens Bank Park fans weighed in as always, by cheering Bryce Harper, who completed his first season in Philadelphia with 35 homers and 114 RBI, and booing Kapler.

“Expectations were high and we didn’t get the job done, but it wasn’t for lack of effort,” Kapler said after that game.

Eleven days later, Kapler was fired by Philadelphia, which freed him up to interview and be tabbed by the Giants to become their manager in 2020.

This finish will be far easier to digest for the team and the manager. David Villar homered twice in the win over the Padres, the second one with style as Villar’s drive bounced off the racing Jurickson Profar’s glove and into the first row of seats in left field. That gave the Giants a 7-1 lead in the eighth inning as they took full advantage of a Padres’ team that was more focused on their cross-country flight to New York for their first their first post-season encounter with the Mets on Friday night.

Austin Slater also homered in the win, and Lamonte Wade Jr. had three hits and an RBI. The three knocks were just enough to get Wade’s batting average to .207, a far more dignified end to his season than with the .198 average he started the day with.

Mike Yastrzemski had a pair of hits and two RBI. Yaz finished the season as one of only four Giants to get over 100 hits (104).

Joey Bart had a day as polarizing as his season as a whole. While he finished with a single and a run scored, he also struck out three times. Bart will need to cut down on his strikeouts (112 K’s in 97 game appearances) going forward, but his first, full season as the club’s catcher was a success behind the plate. Bart’s defense was impressive and memorable, as was his handling of the pitchers. On Wednesday, Bart helped eight relievers navigate the paired-down Padres lineup, allowing just four hits and a run, with the run allowed by opener John Brebbia in the first inning.

Again the bad: the Giants finished the season with 28 losses to the Padres and Dodgers combined. Against all other opponents they were 71-53. The newly-configured schedule for 2023 will see the Giants play their two tormenters six fewer times each as MLB switches to a more balanced schedule with increased interleague play.

Will that help the Giants? It could, but a headline-generating off-season filled with a couple of splashy, free agent signings will be the key to answering that question. All signs point to the Giants being heavily involved in attempting to sign slugger Aaron Judge, as well as their own free agent, starting pitcher, Carlos Rodon.

The Padres (89-73) qualified for the post-season for only the second time in the last eight seasons, but now find themselves facing a daunting task. They’ll play a best-of-three series in New York against the 100-win Mets. In order to prevail, they’ll have to face the challenge of seeing standout starting pitchers Jacob de Grom, Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt on consecutive days. If they don’t prevail, post-season baseball won’t come to Petco Park.

From a business and a momentum-building standpoint, nothing could be more important. In 2022, the Padres drew 2,987,470 fans, the fifth-highest in the majors this year and the second-highest in franchise history behind 3,016,752 in Petco Park’s inaugural season of 2004.

“More than anything we want to win the series so we can see playoff baseball here in San Diego,” slugger Wil Myers said.

Seven In The Eighth: Big inning leads Padres past the Giants, 7-4

By Morris Phillips

The Giants most excruciating losses in 2022 have come to the Padres. That pattern continued on Monday night.

Jake Cronenworth’s two-run double and Wil Myers’ three-run homer highlighted San Diego’s seven-run, eighth inning that broke up a scoreless ballgame and pushed the Padres past the Giants, 7-4.

The Giants (80-80) fell back to .500 with the loss, and still need one more win to avoid a losing season. The Padres have already punched their post-season ticket but will likely need one more win to clinch the fifth-seed and a trip to either New York or Atlanta to a start a best-of-three, opening round series starting Friday.

The Giants got the best imaginable in their battle with Padres’ starter Joe Musgrove, who threw six, scoreless innings but left with the game scoreless and no opportunity to get an 11th win on the season in his final start. Musgrove allowed two hits and two walks, with the hits coming in the fifth when David Villar and Lamonte Wade Jr. both singled. In four, previous starts against the Giants this season Musgrove allowed four runs in 27 2/3 innings pitched.

“It seemed really easy there for a while. Had really good command of his breaking ball. Good change-up today. Good fastball when he needed it,” manager Bob Melvin said of Musgrove.

The Giants matched Musgrove by getting a scoreless inning from opener John Brebbia followed by five, impressive innings from Sean Hjelle. Shelby Miller pitched a 1-2-3 seventh but fell into trouble in the eighth.

Trent Grisham and Brandon Dixon doubled to start the inning and put the Padres up 1-0. With one out, the Giants opted to put Juan Soto on base with an intentional walk, but Miller went 3-0 on Chris Drury before walking him as well and loading the bases. Jarlin Garcia was summoned by manager Gabe Kapler but he gave up Cronenworth’s double and Myers’ home run.

The Giants rallied in the ninth first with Brandon Crawford’s bases loaded single, then two batters later, Joey Bart’s two-run single. Bart’s hit was just the second time he’s delivered an RBI hit since August 10. Bart’s hit chased Tim Hill, but Josh Hader came on to strike out Austin Slater and induce J.D. Davis to fly out to end the game with the tying run on base.

The Giants will turn to Carlos Rodon on Tuesday in his final start of the season. The Padres have not as of yet named a starting pitcher.

EVAN LONGORIA: The Giants veteran third baseman was placed on the injured list on Monday with a fractured thumb. That ends his season, and begins the speculation as to whether he’ll return to the Giants in 2023.

The Giants hold a team option for Longoria at $13 million. His buyout number is $5 million, and that is the most likely option. But Longoria said his family is open to him continuing his career, and he would consider renegotiating a deal at lower price than $13 million.

“I’m a Giant until I’m not a Giant anymore. I don’t have any desire to go anywhere else. I’m very comfortable here,” Longoria said.

Reality Sets In: A’s drub Mariners, 10-3 as reminder their path to the post-season isn’t completed

By Morris Phillips

For the Mariners, Friday’s celebratory release has ended. On Sunday, the A’s pre-empted the hosts’ post-season party and staged one of their own.

Shea Langeliers, Cristian Pache and Nick Allen homered off Seattle starter Robbie Ray and the A’s built a 10-0 lead on the way to a 10-3 win at T-Mobile Park.

The A’s interrupted a six-game losing skid with the win, and moved closer to insuring that the Washington Nationals will finish with the Majors’ worst won-loss record, not Oakland.

The Mariners lost ground to the Blue Jays with the loss in their race to determine the host of their likely, three-game Wild Card series beginning on Friday. The Jays beat Boston on Sunday and can insure that they’ll host the series with any combination of Toronto wins and Seattle losses that adds up to two.

Manager Scott Servais characterized his club’s low-energy performance Sunday while likely attempting to calculate how fiercely they should approach their final four games against the Tigers, which are shoe-horned into a three-day span.

“There’s been a lot of emotion around our team here in the last four or five days and I think you saw a little bit of the wind out of our sails today,” Servais said.

With the new-playoff format, the Mariners could go from the high of ending their unprecedented 21-year post-season drought to the reality that the renewed love affair between themselves and their fans could end Wednesday. The visitor in the opening series faces the reality that they could be eliminated without hosting any playoff games.

“We’re at the point where you almost got to win out,” Servais noted.

The A’s took control on two fronts Sunday. James Kaprelian pitched no-hit baseball into the sixth inning before allowing a single to Ty France. At that point, the A’s led 6-0. Kaprelian walked two, struck out seven and departed after retiring Eugenio Suarez to end the sixth. His win-loss record (5-9) may not reflect it, but Kaprelian’s growth as a starter is apparent.

After a two-week pause beginning August 31, Kaprelian has made four starts and equaled or surpassed his innings pitched and the pitch count reached in his initial 23 starts of the season. Translated, he’s establishing himself as someone the A’s can count on to get deep in games going forward.

“It was a good finish for James in terms of his bounce back from some struggles in the middle of the season to ending this month and really performing well,” manager Mark Kotsay said.

Conversely, Ray left too many pitches in the strike zone and the A’s didn’t miss them. His three home runs allowed tied a season-high, and he walked three batters in the second inning as a precursor to falling into serious trouble in the fourth and fifth.

“This is one that just, flush it and move on. I’m not going to let it take away from what I’ve been able to do this year,” Ray said.

Ernie Clement, in just his third start for the A’s, and Allen both came up with terrific defensive plays, throwing runners out after cat-quick diving stops. Langeliers homered in the fourth, and again in the ninth, a three-run shot off Penn Murfee.

The A’s conclude the season at the Coliseum against Anaheim. Adrian Martinez gets the start in Monday’s opener opposite Patrick Sandoval for the Angels.

Bears Blues: Cal bows out quietly in 28-9 loss at Washington State

By Morris Phillips

The question “Can the Cal Bears win one on the road?” became more burdensome as the afternoon in Pullman, Washington progressed.

As in “Can the Bears win on the road if they don’t score first, don’t get a big afternoon from Jaydn Ott, or if they score a measly fraction of the 49 points they put up on Arizona last week?”

The answer: No, no, no and no.

In losing 28-9 to Washington State, the Bears wasted a first half of solid play defensively by failing to gain any consistency on offense in either half. The Bears brief moment of competitiveness–Ott’s 2-yard touchdown run at the outset of the fourth quarter–failed to resonate when two Bears tripped over each other on a failed, two-point conversion attempt that would have trimmed their deficit to 14-11.

“We got nothing going in the run game,” coach Justin Wilcox admitted. “Pass protection wasn’t where it needed to be. We’re all gonna share in that, but we didn’t expect to be as poor as we were in those areas today, especially coming off of last week.”

The Bears have lost nine of their last 10 road games dating back to 2020.

Cal scored 49 points in racing past Arizona at home last week, but the host Cougars kept Cal from converting 11 third down opportunities resulting in nine Cal punts. Once seven Cal plays that loss yardage and four sacks of quarterback Jake Plummer were factored in Cal’s offense numbers shrank dramatically.

Ott, the freshman who gained 274 yards rushing against Arizona, was productive again, but nowhere near spectacular. On 23 touches, run and pass, Ott gained 110 yards and had double-digit gainers on the ground and through the air. Jeremiah Hunter (109 yards receiving) and J. Michael Sturdivant (six catches, 71 yards) were factors as well. But the trio’s numbers didn’t amount to much on the scoreboard.

“A couple of big plays in the air, and that was nice to see, but we gotta score more than that, everybody knows that,” Wilcox said.

FCS-transfer quarterback Cameron Ward threw for 343 yards and two scores to lead WSU despite throwing two interceptions. Ward connected with Robert Ferrel for a beautifully-timed and placed TD pass to open the third quarter that increased WSU’s lead to 14-3. In the fourth quarter Ward hit Renard Bell for a 37-yard score and a 21-9 lead.

Ward also extended plays with his feet, and that was more influential than the turnovers as the Cougars converted six, third down opportunities and two more on fourth down.

“We had three or four chances for some negative plays on them, but we just couldn’t get him on the ground,” Wilcox said of the mobile Ward.

Beyond the four sacks, Jack Plummer was harassed throughout by the Washington State pass rush, and he suffered a knee injury late in the game. No report was released regarding the severity of the injury with the Bears now having two weeks to prepare for their next game at Colorado.

Plummer finished 22 of 33 for 273 yards.

“We obviously don’t want him to get hit,” offensive lineman Matthew Cindrich said. “We definitely have to look ourselves in the mirror and say what can we do to not let that happen anymore.”

Ford’s Drive: Rookie’s grand slam propels Giants to 6-4 win over the Rockies

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Improbably, the Giants avoided post-season elimination for the second night in a row.

While the Giants drubbed the Rockies for a team-record eighth, consecutive time, winning 6-4, the Phillies lost to the Cubs, and Brewers lost at home the Marlins.

Of the 18 clubs that will be parked in front of their TV screens when the playoffs commence on October 7, 15 have already ordered food from their preferred, delivery service. The Giants aren’t one of them, and that’s a good thing. Officially, they’re still battling.

“We’ve still got a chance, I guess,” Carlos Rodon said. “A lot of things have got to go our way, but all we can control is us winning.”

An upbeat, engaged Rodon maybe as valuable to the Giants as any late-season surge. In winning for the 14th time as a Giant, Rodon was flawless, allowing two hits and striking out 10 in six, scoreless innings of work. With each impressive outing, it becomes more and more apparent that the Giants will want to consummate a long-term deal with Rodon, and make him the most, prominent free agent signing in the Farhan Zaidi era, pending Aaron Judge’s decision, of course.

While the Rockies started six rookies on Thursday night, making Rodon’s path less Rockie, the Giants started one, Ford Proctor, who essentially won the game. Proctor’s second inning, grand slam off Ross Feltner increased the Giants lead to 5-0 and erased whatever doubt regarding the game’s outcome early. Proctor, who started his trip around the bases in a reserved manner was an absolute teenager with a huge smile on his face when he crossed the plate, in celebration of his first Major League home run.

“The fastest I’ve ever run around the bases, I know that,” Proctor said. “This past week has been a whirlwind. Just trying to take it all in and enjoy it.”

Kelly Tomlinson was the last Giant to have his first home also be a grand slam in 2015, and Brandon Crawford also achieved the feat in 2011, when his slam was also his first Major League hit.

Eight different Giants had at least one hit in the ballgame including pinch-hitter Austin Slater, who doubled and later scored in the seventh.

Very little went wrong for the Giants individually or collectively until the ninth inning when Jharell Cotton fell into trouble in his third inning of relief. Yonathon Daza and Alan Trejo singled to open the inning, giving Colorado runners at first and third. With one out, C.J. Cron’s sacrifice fly scored Daza with the Rockies’ first run.

That flurry forced Gabe Kapler into his bullpen and Sean Bouchard greeted John Brebbia with a two-run homer off Brebbia’s first pitch. Two batters later, Elehuris Montero tripled home Michael Toglia and the Giants’ lead was trimmed to 6-4.

Camilo Doval came on to face Ezequiel Tovar as the tying run and Doval retired Tovar to end the game.

The Giants welcome Arizona to Oracle Park for their final, three home games starting Friday night. Alex Cobb will face the Diamondbacks’ Merrill Kelly in the opener.

Not Mailing It In: Giants top the Rockies 6-3 to avoid post-season elimination

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–The streaking Giants aren’t just winning games, they’re also setting the table for 2023.

When the off-season’s as anticipated as the Giants, consider it a win-win.

Four different Giants, including rookie Ford Proctor, had run-scoring hits in a 6-3 win over the Rockies on Wednesday night. The Giants have won 8 of 9 and still have (slim) post-season possibilities with seven games remaining in the season.

The Giants trail the sixth-seeded Phillies by 6 1/2 games, and would have to leapfrog the Brewers as well in an almost impossible finish, but the door’s open as is the possibility they could finish .500 or better with their record at 77-78.

It’s been more than a month since the Giants have held a non-losing record with that being on August 23, after they beat the Tigers in Detroit to get to 61-61.

The Giants fashioned a bullpen game gem, starting with John Brebbia pitching a scoreless first inning for the ninth, straight time in his sometimes role as the opener. Sean Hjelle followed with four innings of two-hit ball after being recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Sacramento as the corresponding move to Jarlin Garcia being placed on the paternity list.

That performance earned Hjelle his first Major League win and a sticky, concoction celebration from his teammates.

“I think there was one beer mixed in there, too,” Hjelle said of what substances where poured on his head in the clubhouse. “It was great. I’m gonna feel gross for a couple of days.”

The 31-year old Shelby Miller was the other Giant to throw multiple innings, pitching the sixth and seventh. He was sharp, starting all six batters he faced with a strike and fanning five.

“He’s getting opposing hitters comfortable looking for a slider and then delivering a really quality strike with his fastball,” manager Gabe Kapler said of Miller.

Tyler Rogers and Yunior Marte also pitched an inning as the Giants held the Rockies to just four hits. The evening served as another hint that the answers to the team’s bullpen woes could be already in the clubhouse. In the last three weeks, Scott Alexander, Alex Young and Miller have been impressive while Brebbia and Camilo Doval have continued their outstanding seasons.

The Giants scored three runs in the first off Colorado’s Jose Urena, who gave up four hits, four walks and took the loss. The Rockies narrowed the deficit to 3-2 on Alan Trejo’s solo shot in the fifth. But the Giants responded, scoring three times in the sixth. Proctor’s first big league RBI came on a sacrifice fly scoring David Villar. Joc Pederson’s two-run triple later in the inning finished the scoring for the Giants.

The Way-Too-Early 2023 NL West Power Rankings: The Giants need to retool

By Morris Phillips

At 27-40 with all nine remaining games to be played, the Giants’ answer to the question, “How the West was lost?” lies squarely with divisional play.

The first-place Dodgers lit up the Giants, winning 15 of 19, the first time LA has beaten the Giants as many as 15 times in a season. The second-place Padres have won 11 of 16, with a couple of the losses delivered in excruciating fashion. And Arizona leads the season series between the clubs 9-7 with three games remaining.

Only the Rockies have felt the Giants impose their will, dropping 11 of 16 to San Francisco with three games left to play. The .402 winning percentage in divisional play, if it stands, will be one of its worst since divisional play commenced in 1969.

So what does this mean for next season, one in which divisional play will be reduced by 24 games, and interleague play expanded?

Who knows? But we’ll pretend to know anyways with our Way-To-Early 2023 NL West power rankings.

1) Los Angeles Dodgers: Count on it, the Dodgers unprecedented divisional dominance will extend into a second decade as they again finish first in the NL West in 2023. Start with the imposing top of the lineup trio of Trea Turner, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman and go from there. The Dodgers undoubtedly will open the bank account for Turner, the 29-year old free agent to be, who will be their foremost, off-season priority. Max Muncy will also likely return on the team’s option to retain him. That leaves Justin Turner as the guy who status is up in the air.

Add in the youthful crew of Gavin Lux, Trayce Thompson, James Outman along with pitchers Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and Dustin May and just know the Dodgers have an embarrassment of riches.

2) San Diego Padres: San Diego’s biggest nightmare–the PED suspension of Fernando Tatis Jr.–will negatively impact next season as well, with the ban stretching across the first 30 games of 2023.

Along with that, the Padres have played losing baseball since June 23 (34-39) dating well before the trade deadline acquisition of Juan Soto and Tatis’ suspension. The Dodgers have had their way with their Southern California rivals, beating them 12 times, nine of those by five runs or more.

The Padres look set for the 2022 playoffs barring a collapse, but they could face the Braves in the opening round without the benefit of a home game to energize their fans, who have filled Petco Park this season in record numbers.

So what’s next?

The Padres don’t seem likely to unleash another round of spending heading into next season, but they will face tough decisions in regards to how to improve a rotation that has seen Mike Clevinger and Blake Snell regress. Also their bullpen with Josh Hader’s arrival hasn’t been as good as they were in 2021. Still, the Padres should be a second place, playoff contender in 2023.

3) San Francisco Giants: The Giants will undoubtedly make the most personnel decisions among NL West teams in the off-season. Will they also make the biggest decisions?

The Giants are one of the teams that will be involved in the Aaron Judge sweepstakes, a big money game if there ever was one. Can they win it? The odds have to be as little as 20 percent that they can, but if so, they’ll lean heavily on Judge’s ties to Northern California and his opportunity to play in low scoring, competitive games where home runs are essential.

Regardless of Judge’s decision the Giants must first decide on Carlos Rodon’s future and the wisdom of handing the strikeout king a four-year extension that would bring the total of his deal near $100 million. If so, the Giants would be set in their rotation with a 1-2 punch of Rodon and Logan Webb.

Beyond that the team has intriguing decisions regarding Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt (UFA), Mike Yastrzemski and Lamonte Wade Jr. But the biggest choices will be to improve the bullpen that fell dramatically from the top of the 2021 NL rankings.

Whatever transpires, the goal is getting the Giants back into the postseason mix.

4) Arizona Diamondbacks: The D’Backs keep spending money, the D’Backs keep adding pieces, and they have stability in manager Torey Luvullo.

When will it add up?

Arizona’s last playoff appearance was in 2017. The last time they won a playoff game was in 2011. Since winning the World Series in 2001, they’ve won two playoff games while cycling through five, different managers. What they have done in the last 20 years is make a number of splashy free agent signings (Shelby Miller, Madison Bumgarner, Justin Upton) and not seen much in terms of results.

Ok, what’s next?

Stay the course. Christian Walker’s elevated his game, becoming one of the NL’s premiere sluggers in 2022 with 36 homers thus far, Daulton Varsho’s come up with 50 extra-base hits this season, and Ketel Marte (56 extra-base hits) was good, and could easily regain the form of his previous, two seasons. Stone Garrett, a promising prospect that got stuck in the minors, could be ready to become an every day outfielder. They have a core offensively.

Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen–a pair of starting pitchers that the Giants know all too well–are frontline starters and the centerpieces of a plus, starting rotation. Both Kelly and Gallen are signed through the next, couple of seasons.

The Diamondbacks have to get younger, and better in their bullpen and make a tough decision regarding the future of 32-year old Nick Ahmed.

Do they go out and spend a pricey addition again? Maybe not, and if not, that’s the good news.

5) Colorado Rockies: Will the Rox say adieu to manager Bud Black? Will they realize the production they sought by signing free agent slugger Kris Bryant? Can heralded starter German Marquez regain his form, and get his ERA under five?

That’s a lot of questions, and there are more in Denver. Until some or all are answered, the Rockies will carry up the rear in a very, demanding division.

Ott’s 3 TD’s, decisive third quarter lead Cal past Arizona, 49-31 in the Pac-12 opener

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–The 624 yards of offense amassed by Arizona and Cal before halftime on Saturday turned out to be an appetizer.

Jadyn Ott, with his 274 yards rushing and three touchdowns, was the fully satisfying buffet spread across the breadth of the afternoon in the Bears’ 49-31 homecoming win in their Pac-12 opener.

Ott, the freshman who didn’t impact Cal’s narrow loss to Notre Dame, announced himself with a 73-yard score on Cal’s second offensive play. In the third quarter, he was powerful and elusive on an 18-yard run and score. Then in the fourth quarter with Cal looking to finish off the Wildcats, Ott again turned on the speed in a 72-yard touchdown jaunt.

Ott’s 274-yards rushing stands as the most by an FBS player this season, and the third most in Cal history, trailing Jahvid Best (311 yards, 2009) and Jerry Drew (283, 1954).

“We’ve been talking about it for a long time. You’ve seen it in flashes. We saw it a bunch today. He’s a dynamic guy and has the ability to take it to the house from a lot of spots,” coach Justin Wilcox said.

“Every time I touch the ball, I feel like I’m going to score,” Ott said. “That’s my mentality.”

Despite Ott’s breakaway run early, Cal was on its collective heels at the half, trailing 24-21 and unable to stop UA’s Jayden de Laura, who would finish with 401 yards passing.

Wilcox’s trademark halftime adjustments normally consist of cleaning up defensive assignments. But in a game that belonged to playmakers on both sides, Cal leaned heavily on its running game and a rotating cast of offensive linemen as much as benefitting from a turnover in a third quarter that turned the game around.

After forcing a punt on Arizona’s initial drive of the third quarter, Cal regained the lead with an eight-play 87-yard drive capped off by Keleki Latu’s 3-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-one. Quarterback Jack Plummer leaned on his tight ends on the drive with Latu’s two catches and two big gainers from Elijah Mojarro.

An Arizona three-and-out was followed by Cal’s five-play drive that put them up 35-24. Ott finished the drive with a run that saw him slowed by three Wildcat defenders before breaking free to score from 18 yards out.

With the third quarter drawing to a close, linebacker Orin Patu broke free and dislodged the football from a scrambling de Laura, and Miles Jernigan pounced on it to set up Cal at their 32-yard line.

Six plays later, Plummer connected with Jeremiah Hunter for a 37-yard pass and score and Cal had an insurmountable 42-24 lead with 14:53 remaining.

“We couldn’t stop the run and when you can’t stop the run, you run into the issues of you have to try to press,” coach Jedd Fisch said. “I think we started to press there at the end and started turning the ball over in the fourth quarter. That’s what cost us.”

Led by Ott, Cal totaled 354 yards on the ground, the biggest chunk of their 599 yards in total offense. That along with a 3-0 advantage in turnovers allowed the Bears to turn the tide, an overcome Arizona’s 536 yards in offense.

“In the first half, we didn’t tackle well, we didn’t rush, we didn’t cover anybody. It was bad,” Wilcox said.

Numerous players saw their first significant time on the field as Cal Bears, and they made the most of it. Sioape Vitikani, a 335-pound freshman came up with seal block that sprung Ott for his first touchdown run. T.J. Sessions, a Montana State transfer helped break Ott free on his third quarter score.

For Arizona, freshman Tetairoa McMillan came up with an outstanding catch in the end zone despite Cal’s Isaiah Young being in position to make a play. Sophomore Dorian Singer came up with a one-handed catch along the sideline in what was otherwise a rough, fourth quarter for Arizona.

The Bears travel to Pullman, WA next Saturday to face Washington State. The Cougars took a 27-15 lead into the fourth quarter over Oregon on Saturday only to see the No.15 Ducks rally to win 44-41, and saddle the Cougars with their first loss after a 3-0 start.

Webb Gem: Giants’ ace deals for five innings then disappears in 6-1 win over the Rockies

By Morris Phillips

Among Gabe Kapler’s biggest tenets is protecting his Giants starting pitchers, knowing their importance to the teams’ success, as well as the industry-wide competition to secure and retain their services.

Logan Webb received Kapler’s grand treatment on Wednesday night, but not in the manner one might expect.

After retiring 16 of the first 17 batters he faced, Webb allowed his first hit, a one-out single to Sean Bouchard in the sixth. Kapler then shot out of the dugout and removed his 25-year old ace after throwing 66 pitches.

Kapler did what? Well, there are two, obvious metrics: the Giants began the night 31 games out of first place in the NL West with 14 games remaining, and Webb has thrown a career-high 181 1/3 innings this season. Decision made.

“We didn’t have any plans of letting him get a sixth up in this game, so even giving him that sixth up was a diversion from the game plan,” Kapler said. “So good for Logan. He pitched his ass off and was absolutely excellent tonight.

“At this point we’re managing 2022 and ‘23 and beyond,”

Webb has a significant stack of achievements over this season and last, enough to establish himself as the organization’s most prominent player going forward. But he’s never thrown a no-no or a complete game. That’s just how the game works these days at a position where the elite command $20 million a year, and arm trouble is always a concern. Given that, Webb didn’t fuss and was quite pragmatic about the situation.

“I want to throw 200 innings for the next 10 years, not just this year,” he said.

In an interesting bit of foreshadowing, Webb recounted a conversation with his father and teammate Tyler Rogers before the game in which they implored Webb to test his workload restriction by throwing no-hit ball through five innings. Again, Webb’s reaction was tinged with pragmatism.

“It’s Coors Field,” Webb said. “I’m going to give up a hit.”

While Webb dealt, the Giants’ hitters followed the typical Coors’ script, pounding out 15 hits in a 6-1 win that followed a 65-minute rain delay before the first pitch.

Immediately, Coors things were happening when a potential inning-ending double play turned into the Giants’ first run as first baseman C.J. Cron’s glove unraveled, allowing the relay throw from second base to pass right through the glove’s webbing. Lamonte Wade Jr. scored from third on the play and the Giants held a 1-0, first inning lead.

“The laces just ripped in two spots,” Cron said.

The Giants went on to score two runs in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the ninth inning to build a 6-0 lead. A rare Coors Field shutout was derailed in the bottom of the ninth when Elehuris Montero homered off Thomas Szapucki, the fourth Giants’ reliever in support of Webb.

The Giants go for the four-game sweep on Thursday afternoon with John Brebbia in the openers’ role. Recent acquisition Jharell Cotton, the former A’s starter, is expected to assume the bulk innings role following Brebbia. Jose Urena is the announced starter for the Rockies.

REMEMBER KRIS BRYANT?: A year ago the Giants’ drew considerable praise for their trade deadline acquisition of Kris Bryant from the Cubs. The 6’5″ Bryant was the second overall pick in the 2013 Draft and went on to be a centerpiece of the Cubs drive to winning the 2016 World Series. But when the Cubs declined in 2021, Bryant was made available via trade with value as a slugger along with being a versatile defender with an expiring contract.

After a fast start with the Giants, the warts in Bryant’s game began to show and he found himself more and more frequently out of Gabe Kapler’s starting lineup as the Giants raced to the NL West title. In the off-season, the Giants faced a difficult choice to resign the 30-year old Bryant to a pricey, multi-year deal. When the Giants declined, the Rockies stepped up with a 7-year, $182 million deal that didn’t figure to age well given Bryant’s age and his steady decline in production following the 2016 season.

The Giants appear to have made the right choice after the Rockies announced that Bryant will rejoin the Rockies for their final road trip, but he has not sufficiently recovered from a foot injury to resume his third base duties. If Bryant fails to return to the field, his first-year in Colorado will end with a stat line of .306 with 5 home runs, 14 RBI in just 42 games as he spent time on the injured list with back issues followed by foot issues.





Bullpen Boost: Giants rebound to outlast the Rockies 10-7 in 10 innings

By Morris Phillips

If there was a theme to the 336 pitches thrown in Monday night’s marathon contest between the Giants and Rockies, it was the ones thrown by the visitors’ pitching staff weren’t very effective initially, but by the game’s end they were.

As was the Giants’ defense and clutch hitting in a gritty 10-7 win in 10 innings that broke the team’s three-game losing streak.

“You make four errors at Coors Field and you win the game and it’s a minor miracle,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

Scott Alexander, Camilo Doval and Thairo Estrada were the team’s heroes, a significant footnote for a club that has uncertainty engulfing its roster heading into the 2023 season.

Doval pitched a scoreless ninth after the Giants wiped out a 7-5 deficit in the top half of the inning to force extra innings. Of all the players on the roster, Doval maybe number one in having youth on his side and an established role going forward. The closer has allowed just five hits in eight appearances in September and lowered his ERA to 2.45.

Estrada committed one of the Giants’ four errors, misplaying a ground ball that allowed Yonathon Daza to reach base in the sixth, and later score the Rockies’ seventh and final run of the night. But the 26-year old rebounded to hit the game-winning, three-run homer in the 10th, one of his three hits in the game.

“His plate discipline is improving and in the biggest moments he seems to really lock in and focus,” Kapler said of Estrada. “He showed up in a big way today.”

“It shows the type of team that we are,” Estrada said with the assistance of an interpreter. “All of us put a little bit into this win. I just happened to hit the game-winning home run.”

Alexander picked up his second save by pitching a three-up, three-down 10th inning. The 33-year old reliever who spent the previous four seasons with the Dodgers, has allowed two runs in 11 appearances, putting him in the running for a spot in the Giants’ overhauled bullpen in 2023.

Starter Jakob Junis ran into trouble immediately by plunking leadoff hitter Ryan McMahon. He went on to allow runs in each of his four, full innings and was lifted in the fifth. Junis gave up 12 hits, including two doubles and two triples that had Giants’ running all over the expansive Coors outfield to chase down hits. Five of the six runs Junis allowed were earned.

Wilmer Flores had three hits, Mike Yastrzemski and David Villar had two each. Villar delivered the game-tying double with two outs in the ninth inning, scoring pinch runner Austin Slater from first base.

The Rockies got caught short-handed with high-leverage relievers Daniel Bard and Carlos Estevez unable to pitch. That left Justin Lawrence to pitch the ninth, and he was saddled with a blown save after allowing three hits in the Giants’ comeback.

Rookie Gavin Hollowell, in his Major League debut, took the loss. Hallowell, who was promoted from Double-A Hartford, admitted nerves may have surfaced when he walked Lamonte Wade Jr. ahead of Estrada’s home run.

“The adrenaline was definitely up in the beginning, then I started to settle down and maybe let the foot off the gas a little bit,” Hollowell said. “I’ve just got to be better.”