By Morris Phillips
Nothing typifies the Giants these days like a close game. They play a lot of them–36 of 68 so far this season–and they’re used to being in close games, winning close games.
Just hasn’t quite been their thing yet this season, and definitely not on this road trip. The Giants fell to 17-19 in games decided by two runs or less on Wednesday, allowing a three-run, bottom of the ninth rally by the host Braves in a 4-3 loss.
Jake McGee was given an opportunity to reignite his closer duties, and he belied his recent successes and got hit hard. The 35-year old gave up a leadoff home run to Darby Swanson, two more hits and was relieved by Trevor Rogers who allowed the game-winning base hit to Adam Duvall. Camilio Doval wasn’t available, he pitched in nine of the previous 12 games and was given a night to rest.
“We want to win every game, but at the end of the day, these are going to happen,” said McGee, who hadn’t allowed a run since May 10, a stretch of 10 appearances. “That’s why they’ve been really hot lately and they’ve been swinging the bat well. So you’ve just got to tip your cap sometimes.”
The Giants also tipped their cap on Monday when Camilo Doval failed to get through the ninth in a 2-1 loss. Last season’s 107-win campaign included a 31-17 record in one-run games, and the Giants locked in big moments offensively. This year, the record in two-run games is another reminder that the team’s offense has struggled. The bullpen–in spots–as well. But the subject arises in a series–not yet completed–where a team’s two best starters sprinkle magic dust for seven innings, only to see their work squandered in the game’s final inning.
“I’m not one to say one loss was better or worse than others. It’s just not my style,” said Kapler, who just doesn’t show raw emotion in postgame pressers.
Rodon was on point, capping a three-start stretch in which he allowed one run in 21 innings. He struck out 10, and walked one in his first appearance against the Braves. Matt Olson’s seventh inning, RBI double broke up Rodon’s scoreless stretch.
Darin Ruf and Mike Yastrzemski homered to back Rodon, and Tommy LaStella’s RBI single in the ninth provided insurance, giving the Giants a 3-1 lead.
And the news wasn’t bad off the diamond, as Brandon Crawford found out he suffered no structural damage to his knee, and he’s a candidate to start Thursday’s series finale.
Luis Gonzales would have been a viable, pinch-hit option on Wednesday after being declared out with back tightness, but that wasn’t all that he needed. The Braves followed right-handed starter Charlie Morton with two left-handed relievers, leaving Kapler with better options. Kapler said Gonzales should be okay, his back issues are considered serious.
Alex Wood and Atlanta’s Kyle Wright are the announced starters for the series finale at 12:20pm EST.