The title of this post means “in the mouth of the wolf.” It’s an Italian saying that’s the equivalent of “good luck.” (hat-tip to SisterLefty, who just returned from spending the summer in Italy.) And that’s where the Giants find themselves after their desultory performance last night.
I was shocked. I’m still shocked. I didn’t expect this series to be easy or the Giants to sweep or anything ridiculous like that. I honestly thought there was a good chance they’d lose last night with Julio Urias pitching since they’ve been far less successful facing lefty starters this year–and Urias is about as good a lefty starter as there is right now. But after Friday night’s nearly perfect effort, I didn’t expect them to be embarrassed the way they were.
Let’s break down everything the Giants did wrong. There will be no section for what they did right.
- Kevin Gausman wasn’t good enough. He wasn’t terrible. He did OK. Against Urias and the Dodgers, though, it wasn’t good enough. And don’t say “Angel Hernandez,” either. Urias had to deal with Angel, too. Besides walking three batters ( Logan Webb and his supporting cast walked zero), he ran up his pitch count, and worse, he gave up a two-out RBI single to Urias (and then a second one to Mookie Betts) after walking the #8 hitter to get to the pitcher’s spot. That was the unforgivable moment that put the Giants in a hole they would never escape.
- The hitters were terrible. Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford are having a great series, but other than a two-out double by Austin Slater, the lineup specifically constructed for lefties did nothing. Zero. Zip. I guess I can’t really blame Gabe Kapler for the lineup since the lefties on the bench except for Tommy LaStella (Mike Yastrzemski, LaMonte Wade Jr., Alex Dickerson, and Steven Duggar) are all in mild to extreme slumps. Not sure what better choices Kapler might have had, but wow, what a fail for the lineup.
- Relievers with last names beginning with “L” were dreadful. I was stunned by how bad Dominic Leone was. I think he’s had a really good season for the Giants, but on pondering it, it seems to me like he usually starts innings rather than coming in with a couple guys on base. He got hosed by Angel Hernandez on what should have been strike 3 to Chris Taylor and seemed to lose his cool, giving up back-to-back first pitch doubles to Cody Bellinger (which ought to get you DFA’d just for that) and then AJ Pollock. Anyway, within about five seconds, the game went from still in reach (2-1 in the sixth) to a blowout mess. As for Zack Littell, did you know that was the seventh time this season that he’s given up a homer to the first guy he faced? That is TERRIBLE. I was worried they’d leave Kervin Castro off the playoff roster in favor of Littell, and I think Littell’s been the weakest link in the bullpen for awhile now. In the event the Giants move on to the next round, I hope they choose Castro over Littell (assuming they add Johnny Cueto, whose feelings they hurt).
- Wilmer Flores needs a $50K fine for that boneheaded baserunning. After Leone’s disastrous turn, the Giants were down 6-1 and made a teeny, tiny little bit of noise in the top of the seventh. Though they did score a run on Crawford’s single, Flores killed the rally by being thrown out by Betts trying to go from first to third. We all know how slow Flores is, and we all know how good Betts is (his throw from RF was 89 MPH!), and that was just DUMB. But after a clean inning by Jake McGee (welcome back!), Littell came in and killed whatever hope there might have been left.
- Hey. The Dodgers are sitting on first-pitch fastballs. Stop throwing them to everybody! Self-explanatory, but Buster–that’s on you.
The only good thing about that game was that Kapler took the opportunity to get McGee and Castro some low-leverage work–McGee because he hadn’t pitched in a month and Castro because he’s a 22-year-old rookie making his first playoff appearance. Both of those innings went quite well, especially compared to innings pitched by Gausman and the “L” brothers.
After Friday night’s game, I was feeling optimistic–not cocky, but optimistic. Maybe the Giants could really pull this off and win a five-game series against the Dodgers. After last night’s game, I don’t know what to think. It’s going to be tough with Scherzer on the mound for Game 3, so let’s see if the #ResilientSF thing can kick in one more time.
Remember the Italian saying I started with? Well, the Giants are definitely “in the mouth of the wolf.” But there’s another part to it. When an Italian says In bocca al lupo, the appropriate response is Crepi il lupo–“May the wolf die.”
Yeah. Go get that wolf, Giants. Lefty out.