After much-needed win, San Francisco's 'brains on Arizona'

September 18th, 2023

DENVER -- Prior to Sunday’s series finale against the Rockies at Coors Field, Giants manager Gabe Kapler spoke at length about the state of his club with 13 games left in the regular season.

San Francisco was coming off three consecutive losses to the last-place Rockies, including a doubleheader sweep on Saturday that left the club 2 1/2 games out of the third National League Wild Card position.

“It does take active work to shift the conversation from complaining and commiserating to, ‘OK, enough of that,’” Kapler said. “‘Now we’re gonna go work on something we can actually control.’”

The conversation certainly shifted Sunday, from one filled with words like “silent,” “dormant” and “futile” to describe the lineup, to one involving descriptors such as “awakened,” “alive” and “revitalized” after the Giants’ 11-10 win over Colorado.

  • Giants games remaining (12): at AZ (2), at LAD (4), vs. SD (3), vs. LAD (3)
  • Standings update: The Giants (76-74) are two games behind the Marlins and Cubs (both 78-72, with Miami holding the tiebreaker for the third NL Wild Card) and 1 1/2 games behind the Reds (78-73).

With a huge two-game series against the D-backs in Arizona beginning Tuesday, followed by a trip to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers before a six-game homestand against the Padres and Dodgers to close out the regular season, salvaging the series finale in Denver was a must.

And the Giants needed to do more than just squeak by. They needed an offensive revival. And they got it. It turned out they needed every last bit of it.

“Some unwanted fun in the end,” is the way Kapler put it succinctly.

Things nearly got out of hand late, but for the first five innings Sunday, the status quo reigned, with San Francisco managing only a run on two hits.

But with the Giants clinging to a 1-0 lead, the bats were jolted to life in an eight-run sixth highlighted by a two-run double from  -- who entered Sunday 6-for-45 (.133) since coming off the injured list on Aug. 29 -- and a three-run homer by , who had been hitless in the series with four walks to that point.

The three-run shot gave Crawford 80 career RBIs at Coors Field, second-most by a visiting player (Adrián González had 88).

“Honestly, every single game the rest of the season is the biggest game, right?” Haniger said. “Unfortunately, losing three of four here is not ideal, and we had some tough ones. But to leave here with a win was really important.”

Things were looking up after the offensive outburst, but that changed quickly. In the bottom of the sixth, the Rockies answered with five runs of their own to make things uncomfortable for the Giants.

Sean Manaea started for San Francisco and had five scoreless innings under his belt to that point, but he was chased from the game after he gave up a two-run homer to rookie right fielder Hunter Goodman, followed by a Brendan Rodgers single. John Brebbia came in and surrendered a three-run homer to Brenton Doyle that made it 9-5.

The Giants answered with two more in the seventh thanks to a two-run double by Patrick Bailey.

From there, relievers Tyler Rogers and Luke Jackson held Colorado to one run over the next two frames before turning things over to closer Camilo Doval.

Within minutes, the Rockies had scored four times, and suddenly, the Giants were on the verge of catastrophe. It was easy to imagine a brutal loss to conclude a brutal series that could eventually cost San Francisco a postseason berth.

Doval was erratic. He gave up a leadoff double to Elehuris Montero, and that was followed by an infield single, sacrifice fly, hit-by-pitch, strikeout, wild pitch, an error he committed on a roller up the first-base line and a two-run single.

“We know that Camilo is a work in progress,” Kapler said. “… He’s an outstanding arm with three devastating pitches, [but] there are a lot of things about his game we have to work on that are not quite there yet.”

Taylor Rogers relieved Doval and faced Charlie Blackmon, who punched a soft liner that, at first, seemed like it might float into right field to tie the game. But it landed in the glove of second baseman Thairo Estrada, and the Giants escaped disaster.

They also kept pace in a tight Wild Card race that seems destined to go down to the wire.

The Giants now turn their focus to Arizona, with their two best starters lined up to pitch on Tuesday and Wednesday -- Alex Cobb and Logan Webb.

“I promise you,” Kapler said. “The minute we get on the plane, our brains are on Arizona. … The next event for us is a couple of days away with big stakes. … And we’re looking forward to that.”