SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants are still mathematically alive in the National League Wild Card race. But for all intents and purposes, the Padres likely dashed all their hopes this week at Oracle Park.
With a 5-4 loss in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, the Giants were swept by their NL West foes at home for the second time this season, extending their losing streak to a season-high-matching seven games.
At 61-68, the Giants are now 10 1/2 games behind the Padres for the third NL Wild Card spot, leaving them closer to the bottom of the division than they are to a playoff berth. They’ve gone 24-41 since June 19, the third-lowest winning percentage in the Majors ahead of only the Nationals and Pirates.
“Obviously, we haven’t played up to our expectations and the brand of baseball that we’re accustomed to and what we’re trying to build here,” said left-hander Alex Wood, who was charged with the loss after giving up four runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings. “It’s just really hard to put into words.”
Against that backdrop, perhaps it wasn’t that surprising that frustrations began to boil over during the Giants’ third consecutive one-run loss. Shortstop Brandon Crawford, normally a paragon of stoicism, was ejected by third-base umpire Ryan Blakney in between the second and third innings after arguing a check-swing call in his first at-bat of the game against Padres ace Joe Musgrove.
Crawford wasn’t happy after Blakney ruled that he went around on a 1-2 slider from Musgrove and wanted to discuss the call once he returned to the field for the top of the third, but he said Blakney wasn’t interested in having the conversation.
The two briefly exchanged words before Blakney threw out Crawford, forcing the Giants to reconfigure their infield. Thairo Estrada shifted over to replace Crawford at shortstop, with Wilmer Flores moving to second and J.D. Davis entering the game at third.
“I was surprised at how quick it happened,” Crawford said. “Basically I wanted to talk to him about the check-swing call. Obviously, I didn’t agree with it. I brought up a call last night that he really didn’t want to talk about. I still wanted to. He made sure that we didn’t talk about it anymore and threw me out.”
Manager Gabe Kapler said he thought Blakney moved too quick to eject Crawford, who was tossed for only the third time in his 12-year career.
“I think he’s one of the more in-control individuals that I’ve been around,” Kapler said. “He very rarely says anything to the umpires. I was actually surprised that that even happened. He was vocal in the dugout, but I think he probably remained vocal out on the field. My feeling on those situations is [that] umpires have known Brandon Crawford for a really long time. I think it’s good to have a little grace there and give a guy who rarely barks and doesn’t complain a little extra rope. I didn’t think it was necessary.”
Crawford wasn’t the only one who voiced his displeasure, as Wilmer Flores and Joc Pederson also visibly questioned some called third strikes from home-plate umpire Adrian Johnson. Pederson, who was rung up on an 0-2 fastball at the bottom of the zone to start the fifth, dropped his bat and put his hands on his hips in frustration, prompting Kapler to emerge from the dugout to ensure another one of his players didn’t get tossed.
“You play bad baseball for a stretch, you play below-par baseball for a really long period of time, tempers are going to flare,” Kapler said. “People are going to be pissed off. Stress levels are going to be high. Patience is going to be low.”
The Giants mustered only one hit through their first five innings against Musgrove, who struck out a season-high 11 over 6 2/3 innings. San Francisco finally broke through on Austin Wynns’ RBI double in the sixth and then scored in each of the next two innings to cut the deficit to 4-3.
Clinging to a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, the Padres were forced to turn to Josh Hader, who had struggled so much since coming over from the Brewers at the Trade Deadline that he had recently been demoted from closer duties.
Hader had already blown two saves against the Giants this season, but he managed to shut the door this time around, working around a leadoff single to Estrada to post a scoreless inning and pick up his first save for San Diego.
“Despite a pretty good fight in all three games, it wasn’t enough,” Kapler said. “Admirable effort, no quit. A lot of grind at the end no matter the situation. But the only thing that matters in this league is wins and losses and we weren’t able to get it done.”