Coming off the nine-game road trip, the San Francisco Giants showed enough to at least have tepid optimism that the team was breaking out of it post-all-star-game funk. Then they came home on Friday for the three-game “Halloween” series against their fellow orange-and-black team, the Baltimore Orioles.
The tepid had all but faded away Sunday. Until the Giants’ bullpen got involved. Hunter Strickland and Derek Law failed to keep the Orioles off the board but still handed a lead to Santiago Casilla. The Giants’ embattled closer proceeded to blow a save opportunity for the sixth time this season, capping the Giants’ ugly come-from-ahead loss.
More from SF Giants News
- SF Giants: 2021 team is approaching franchise milestone
- SF Giants: Brandon Belt is a qualifying offer candidate
- SF Giants: Outfielder Ka’ai Tom signed to minors deal
- SF Giants: Reliever Reyes Moronta clears outright waivers
- SF Giants sign veteran 1B John Nogowski to minor league deal
The Orioles entered the series a half-game out of first place in a strong American League East and is likely to reach the postseason, at least as a Wild Card. But with three innings left in the series, San Francisco looked like the better team, leading the series rubber match 7-1. Then Johnny Cueto gave up two runs before getting pulled in the sixth inning. Hunter Strickland yielded a home run to Mark Trumbo in the seventh, then Derek Law allowed a runner inherited from Strickland to score.
Still, the Giants held a 7-5 lead heading into the ninth. A three-run Jonathan Schoop homer erased that, warping a second consecutive series win for the Giants into a heart-ripping loss that, at least for a day, killed their desperately needed momentum.
The loss leaves Giants players and fans feeling devastated, demoralized and downright sick to the stomach.
BUT, not all is lost. Let’s remove the emotion for a moment and look at this rationally. (I know, easier said than done.) The Los Angeles Dodgers also lost, meaning the Giants maintain their one-game lead. And the offense appears to be improving, evidenced by the 13 runs scored between Saturday and Sunday.
The big difference at the plate? Hunter Pence and Joe Panik produced. Pence still has a little ways to go before getting back to his normal self, but he did go yard on Sunday and doubled on Friday. Panik, on the other hand, got hits on all three games against Baltimore, including a 3-for-3 performance on Saturday that included two doubles and two runs scored.
When Panik is right, he’s one of the better hitters in baseball—a legitimate .300 hitter with excellent gap power. The Giants not only could use that kind of production, they need it badly. Of course, they also need more days like today out of Pence. Not too many Giants hitters provide the long ball (and thus produce multiple runs with one swing of the bat), and while the team isn’t necessarily constructed to rely on home runs, they need some in order to win enough games to secure their postseason bid—something Pence is capable of providing.
But that might not matter much if the bullpen isn’t capable of holding onto a lead.