Giants snakebitten, see NL Wild Card hopes dwindle

San Francisco loses season series to D-backs after two-game sweep in Arizona

September 21st, 2023

PHOENIX -- The Giants are still mathematically alive in the National League Wild Card race, but their unofficial burial may have come this week at Chase Field.

San Francisco came out of a must-win series empty-handed following a 7-1 loss to the D-backs that sealed a two-game sweep on Wednesday afternoon. The defeat -- the Giants’ 25th in their last 30 road games -- dropped them back to .500 and caused their playoff odds to crater to a season-low 1.4 percent with 10 games left to play, according to FanGraphs.

  • Games remaining (10): at LAD (4), vs. SD (3), vs. LAD (3)
  • Standings update: The Giants (76-76) fell 4 1/2 games behind the D-backs (81-72) for the second NL Wild Card berth and remained three games behind the Cubs (79-73) for the third and final spot. They also trail the Marlins (79-74) and the Reds (79-75) in the race. Arizona clinched the head-to-head tiebreaker with San Francisco by winning the season series, 7-6.

“Obviously, these were must-win games,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Going back several games, those were also must-win games. Now, the math is not on our side. Every game is one that we have to win.”

The road ahead doesn’t look any less daunting for the Giants, who still have seven games left against the NL West champion Dodgers and could be in danger of finishing below .500 if they don’t halt their slide down the standings. 

“We’re not in a very good position, to be honest,” right-hander said. “We’re probably going to have to win every single game from here on out and hopefully get some luck around the league.”

The Giants mustered only three hits against starter Merrill Kelly, who surrendered only a leadoff home run to over 6 2/3 innings.  

San Francisco’s anemic bats couldn’t support another quality start from Webb, who was charged with the loss after giving up three runs on nine hits over six innings, while striking out four and walking two. 

Webb leads the Majors with a career-high 207 innings and ranks 10th with a 3.35 ERA, but the Giants have repeatedly squandered his efforts, going only 14-18 in his 32 starts this year. After Wednesday's loss, the Giants are averaging 3.26 runs of support behind Webb, the lowest mark of any qualified starter in baseball, while providing him with two runs or fewer in 21 of his 32 outings.

“I think we’re all disappointed that we haven’t been able to support Webby with run support and getting him his wins,” Kapler said. “It doesn’t take away from the excellent season that he’s had. The innings that he’s been able to pile up, the games that he’s been able to keep us in. He’s been one of the best players in baseball.”

The D-backs tied the game on Christian Walker’s two-out RBI single in the bottom of the first and then took advantage of a throwing error by catcher Patrick Bailey to score two more runs in the third -- putting them ahead for good. Corbin Carroll, who finished 4-for-5 with three runs scored, kicked off the rally with a one-out single and then easily stole his 50th base of the year after Bailey’s throw down to second base sailed into center field. 

“I think he’s just rushing,” Kapler said of Bailey. “I think he’s just trying to be perfect. I think he’s trying really hard and trying to make things happen. We talked a lot about this over the last couple of weeks. You can’t try harder. You have to be in a relaxed state. I think he’s just pushing a little bit too hard behind the plate.”

Carroll advanced to third on the error and then scored on Tommy Pham’s RBI forceout to make it 2-1. Alek Thomas followed with an RBI double to right field to cap the inning.

Webb managed to keep the Giants within two, but the D-backs broke the game open after Carroll and Ketel Marte launched back-to-back homers off Ryan Walker to kick off a four-run seventh.

San Francisco suffered another notable loss Wednesday, as longtime shortstop Brandon Crawford felt his right hamstring grab while trying to beat out a ground ball in the second and ended up leaving the game the following inning. Kapler said the 36-year-old Crawford could be facing a stint on the injured list, which would jeopardize the rest of his season and potentially spell the end of his decorated 13-year run with his hometown team. 

“It was the first thing I thought of,” said Crawford, an impending free agent. “The most frustrating timing I’ve probably ever had with an injury. … I’m hopeful that it feels better in the next couple of days.”