Two weeks ago, as the Giants were starting a homestand against the Rockies and Guardians, I wrote that this was the “final countdown” for them–their last, best chance to salvage their season, which had been in a downward spiral for the better part of two months, and make the playoffs. After an awful road trip to San Diego and Chicago in which they lost six out of seven and looked terrible doing it, it was hard to have much hope…but there was still time and opportunity, so it was too soon to give up on them.
Well, for a minute or two, it looked like maybe some magic could happen. They won four in a row and went 5-1 on the homestand. They traveled to Colorado for a four-game series, but their Thursday night game was rained out, and while they were sitting around playing dominoes/chess/video games in Denver, their wild card adversaries all lost, and they were back in sole possession of a wild card spot, controlling their own destiny. That was nine days ago (9). Then they lost three out of four to the woeful Rockies, a team they’ve beaten up on for the past couple years, including this one–until last weekend. They barely salvaged the final game of that series despite racing out to a 9-0 lead. Then they lost three in a row in Arizona and Dodger Stadium, with each loss looking worse than the one before.
So…they are not mathematically eliminated yet, but now I think it’s safe to say they’re “almost” done. We can exhale, deal with our disappointment, and focus on the few potential bright spots that remain for the last eight games of this season. There will be plenty of time for “year-in-review” pieces and looking ahead to the offseason. After all, we’ll have the whole month of October to think about it. But for now, let’s focus on a few positives.
- The nice win against the Dodgers last night. For the first time in awhile, the Giants actually looked like a regular, competent team, not a 100-loss team. Sean Manaea had by far his best outing as a Giant, going seven shutout innings against one of the best lineups in baseball, allowing only three hits and walking none with a crisp 85 pitches. Susan Slusser began her game story thus: “Ah, so Sean Manaea is in fact a starter after all and might have provided a nice boost in the San Francisco Giants rotation with more outings there than in the bullpen.” Alex Pavlovic in his gamer noted that Manaea’s agent, Scott Boras (yeah, that guy again) was at Dodger Stadium and had to be happy about what he saw, given Manaea’s upcoming decision about his opt-out. Mike Yastrzemski had some redemption for his awful brain fart on Thursday by hitting a two-run homer to break the scoreless tie, Tyler Fitzgerald hit his first major league homer to give the Giants a bit of breathing room in the ninth, Camilo Doval looked like an All-Star closer again, and Marco Luciano had two hard-hit singles (108 & 112 MPH) and stole a base so easily that there wasn’t even a throw. It was an actual pleasure to watch, and I haven’t been able to say that about a Giants game for a couple of weeks.
- Opportunities to see the younger guys play. The injury to Brandon Crawford on Wednesday was a bummer, and we’ll get back to him in a minute. But Luciano and Fitzgerald needed to come up from AAA, and it took Crawford’s injury and the awful start to the road trip to finally make that happen. I have no idea if Fitzgerald is going to stick as a major leaguer–Surf Maui reminded us last night that Casey Schmitt looked great for a few games there, too–but I feel strongly that when a homegrown prospect puts in the work, rises in the system, and does well at the highest levels, the team owes him a shot. Fitz earned it, and instead of promoting him in July or August, they futzed around with Mark Mathias, Paul deJong, and Wade Meckler. Better late than never, though. To me it’s a little weird that Fitz’s opportunity seems to be coming at the expense of playing time for Luis Matos, but they’ve done a lot of things this year that seem strange. Tristan Beck is back and will be in the mix this weekend against the Dodgers, and hopefully Keaton Winn will recover from COVID in time to make one more start.
- More Kyle Harrison. I learned from listening to Giants Talk that Harrison never actually made it to AAA when he was demoted. He went to the complex in Arizona, threw a bullpen, and then Alex Cobb got hurt and back came Harrison. I thought Harrison looked really good against the Dodgers on Thursday–sharp, confident, and, importantly, handling lefty hitters. (Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy, and James Outman went 0-7 against Harrison.) Depending how they play it, Harrison could have two more starts, one on Tuesday against the Padres and one next Sunday for the season finale. I for one will be tuning in if/when he starts. I’m really interested to see how he’s progressing.
- Brandon Crawford’s brilliant career. In the same Giants Talk episode, Alex said that Crawford was truly crushed after the game in Arizona where he got injured, understanding it would likely cost him most or all of his remaining games as a Giant. We don’t know what will happen after this season. Crawford could announce his retirement in the next week, allowing him to have a “Day” next weekend. I hope that’s what happens because he deserves to be celebrated, but at minimum, maybe he can take an at-bat or play an inning or two on October 1, the last game of the season, and let the home crowd love on him (kind of like Madison Bumgarner pinch-hitting against Kershaw in the last game of 2019, also Bruce Bochy’s farewell game).
The Willie Mac Award–Cast Your Ballot!
No matter how disappointing a season may turn out to be, the Willie Mac Award, given each year to the most inspirational Giant, is always a highlight of the closing weekend of play. It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate a good Giant in the company of past Good Giants. With the help of Totalfan62, we’d like to get the TWG community involved in “voting” for this year’s winner. Here’s how it will work:
By Wednesday, 9/27, at 11:59 p.m. PDT, send your selection via email to TF62: email@example.com, ideally with a sentence or two about why you chose this player. If you prefer not to send your email to him, just add a comment between now and the deadline with your pick (and why), and we’ll endeavor to tabulate those as well.
We’ll publish the results and comments next Saturday in Out of Left Field, by which time we’ll also know who actually won.
Today’s the first really great day of college football. For the second week in a row, a Nick Saban mentee (Lane Kiffin this time) will try to take down his mentor (Ole Miss at Alabama). Colorado vs. Oregon. Notre Dame vs. Ohio State. Ironically, the conference that’s about to die has eight top-25 teams going into today’s play. (That will change after today because some of them are playing each other, but still.)
In the midst of all that, the Giants are still playing the Dodgers.
Giants at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m. at Chavez Latrine
TBD vs. Kershaw
Is this the last go-round for Kershaw? Every year you wonder. This time it kind of feels like it could be. Let’s beat him. Lefty out.