Giants look ahead after 'two tough ones' in LA

Shorthanded roster expected to see reinforcements soon

May 5th, 2022

LOS ANGELES – The Giants didn’t face many bumps in the road en route to winning a franchise-record 107 games last year. But they’re getting tested early this season, with their first skid of the year coming less than a month into their 2022 campaign. 

The shorthanded Giants were handily defeated by the Dodgers, 9-1, in Wednesday night’s series finale at Dodger Stadium, sealing a two-game sweep of this mini series between the archrivals and saddling San Francisco with its fifth loss in its last six games. 

The Giants got a pair of left-handed bats back in Mike Yastrzemski, who was reinstated off the COVID-19 injured list after missing eight games with the virus, and Joc Pederson, who returned to the starting lineup for the first time since suffering a Grade 1 right adductor strain last week, but it wasn’t enough to jolt the offense, which was held to two runs and 12 hits over the last two games.

San Francisco, which is still feeling the absence of Brandon Belt, LaMonte Wade Jr., Evan Longoria and Tommy La Stella, couldn’t capitalize on numerous scoring opportunities, finishing 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and leaving 12 men on base over the last two games.

“I think we were pitched to well,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I don’t think we were able to capitalize on some deeper counts. They made pitches when they needed to. I thought it was that simple.”

Brandon Crawford accounted for the Giants’ lone run on Wednesday, driving a first-pitch fastball from Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin out to right-center field for his second home run of the year in the second inning. The Giants put the leadoff hitter on base in the next seven innings, but they were unable to bring any of them home, with two rallies scuttled by a pair of double plays.

Crawford emerged as the Giants’ team MVP last year, but he’s among the players who have endured slow starts at the plate, hitting .220 with a .660 OPS over 23 games this year. No. 3 hitter Darin Ruf has been making hard contact, but he doesn’t have much to show for it thus far, as he’s hitting .178 with a .488 OPS and zero home runs. Rookie Joey Bart, meanwhile, has struck out 23 times in his past 41 at-bats to drop his batting average to .196 on the season.

“I think Joey is pressing just a little bit,” Kapler said. “I don’t think that’s unusual for a young player who has had some swing-and-miss throughout the season. One of the things I can say about Joey is he’s staying very consistent behind the plate. … The fact that he’s struggled some at the plate isn’t affecting his performance behind the plate or working with pitchers.”

Left-hander Alex Wood kept it close, though he was charged with the loss after giving up three runs over 5 1/3 innings against his former club. Wood, who struck out seven and walked two, departed with the Giants trailing, 3-1, but the Dodgers pulled away with a four-run rally in the seventh.

Despite their disappointing showing in Los Angeles, the Giants can see a light at the end of the tunnel as they prepare to return home to kick off a seven-game homestand against the Cardinals and Rockies.

Wade, who has yet to make his season debut due to a left knee injury, appears close to returning after playing in his seventh rehab game with Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday afternoon. Belt and relievers Zack Littell and Dominic Leone could be activated off the COVID-19 IL within the next week, as well. Longoria and La Stella are still in the early stages of their ramp-up at Sacramento, but they should be back to boost the offense before long, too.

“It’s not a group of complainers in here, for sure,” Wood said. “It’s one of those things where we’re still coming to the yard every day and battling our [butts] off and just treading water until we get some of these guys back, get healthy and get our full squad back. It looks like a lot of them are coming here in the next week or so. It’ll be nice to have some of those guys back, for sure. Two tough ones here in L.A. against a good team. It’s hard to come in here shorthanded and play a team like that.”