Baserunning mistake looms large vs. LA

August 4th, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO -- The last time that the Giants lost eight straight regular-season games to the Dodgers was over 15 years ago, from Aug. 19, 2006, to April 8, 2007.

The Giants hope it stays that way, but they're uncomfortably close to repeating the dubious feat after being shut out, 3-0, on Wednesday night, extending their losing streak against the Dodgers to seven.

San Francisco starter , who tossed a quality start but took the loss on Wednesday, said the skid was "really unimaginable" a couple of months ago, pointing to when the Giants swept the Dodgers in three games at Oracle Park in June.

At that point, the Giants were in third place in the NL West, and the sweep trimmed the Dodgers' lead in the division to a manageable 3 1/2 games. Since then, the two clubs have gone in completely different directions -- though the Giants are still in third place, they are now 20 1/2 games out of first place.

"[The Dodgers] do a lot of everything right," Cobb said. "Beyond being a superstar team, they do everything right. They run the bases well, they play incredible defense and they control the strike zone well. We definitely shouldn't be on the skid that we're on, but they're doing little things better than we are right now."

The Giants' lineup struggled early vs. Dodgers starter Julio Urías, as the first 11 batters San Francisco sent to the plate were set down in order. Once Brandon Belt broke through with a fourth-inning double for San Francisco's first hit of the game, though, the Giants began to show a little more life at the plate.

It looked as if things were clicking for the Giants in the bottom of the seventh inning, as they knocked back-to-back-to-back singles to open the frame. With Trade Deadline acquisition J.D. Davis on third, Luis González on second and Joey Bart on first, the Giants had the bases juiced with nobody out. Better yet, they had finally chased Urías and had a real chance to do game-altering damage.

The Dodgers brought in righty Evan Phillips to face Dixon Machado, who is a career .226 batter that the Giants primarily acquired for his defensive capabilities. Normally, Giants manager Gabe Kapler might have opted to pinch-hit for him, but there was one problem: With Brandon Crawford and Thairo Estrada both on the IL, Machado is the only true shortstop on the Giants' roster.

"I don't think that we can play two-plus innings with a shortstop that doesn't play shortstop," Kapler said. "It compromises us too much."

Four pitches later, Machado struck out looking.

The Giants still had two outs to work with, so Mike Yastrzemski came to the plate to pinch-hit for rookie Bryce Johnson. He lofted a 1-0 offering from Phillips to shallow right field that almost looked like it would fall, but Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts swooped in to make the play.

That wasn't the end of it, though -- González had taken off from second on contact, and he had to make a sharp turnaround in an attempt to get back. But Betts astutely threw to second to double González off, and the rally was over.

"As soon as the crack of the bat happened, I was kind of thinking four all the way," González said. "I thought Mookie had no chance of catching that fly ball, and it ended up staying up in the air a lot longer than I thought."

It was the second time González had been doubled off at second in the last week, with the other coming in the Giants' July 25 loss to the D-backs.

"We really want Luis to understand the game state and the value of his out on the bases relative to the score," Kapler said. "Being aggressive at the right times is critically important."

That seventh inning was rather emblematic of the Giants' latest difficult stretch, in which they've lost 11 of 14 games coming out of the All-Star break. While the Dodgers are doing all the little things, that has seemingly eluded the Giants lately -- and that has cost them in key situations.

"Going on stretches like we're on, it's hard to find the joy in the game," Cobb said. "It's a team game based off of individual performances, and all you can do is go out there and compete. … There's been moments this year where I've gotten wins on games that I probably didn't deserve winning, and here we are with a couple of tough losses, but you just keep going out there and giving everything you got."