What we learned as Giants fall to Padres, unable to clinch West originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants won’t spend Saturday night celebrating. They’ll spend it as the world’s biggest Milwaukee Brewers fans.
The lineup looked flat throughout Saturday’s potential clincher, particularly in the 10th inning, and the Giants fell 3-2 to the San Diego Padres. They had hoped to charge through the front door and clinch the NL West, but they’ll now need a Dodgers loss to the Brewers to avoid a stressful final day of the regular season.
Trailing 3-2, the Giants got Mike Yastrzemski placed on second in the bottom of the 10th. Old friend Mark Melancon struck out Steven Duggar and got pinch-hitter Buster Posey to ground out to the mound. Wilmer Flores flied out softly to center to end a game that started with a lot of promise.
The Giants gave Kevin Gausman an early lead, with MVP candidate Brandon Crawford doubling in the second and racing home on Kris Bryant’s bouncer up the middle. The lineup went silent after that, though, allowing the Padres to twice catch up.
With the score tied in the sixth, Austin Slater came off the bench to give the Giants a 2-1 lead with a solo homer, but two innings later they would run into trouble. Zack Littell replaced Gausman and gave up a single and a double ahead of Fernando Tatis Jr. All things considered, what happened next could have been a lot worse.
Littell blew a 97 mph fastball past Tatis for the first out but Manny Machado tied it with a sac fly to left. Jose Alvarez entered and got Jake Cronenworth to ground out to short.
The Padres put two more on with one out in the ninth, but Camilo Doval recovered to strike out Victor Caratini and Eric Hosmer. The game went to the 10th and 22-year-old Kervin Castro entered with the automatic baserunner on second. He struck out Tatis, but Cronenworth gave the Padres the lead with a two-strike double off Jarlin Garcia.
Coming Up Huge
Whether Gausman gets Game 1 or Game 2 of the NLDS, the Giants can be pretty confident that he’ll be ready for the assignment.
Gausman cruised through his biggest start as a Giant, throwing just 84 pitches while getting a 2-1 lead to the top of the eighth. It was clear early on that he brought the good stuff. Gausman hit 98 mph to Tatis in the first inning and showed off his trademark splitter, which seemed to return to full form last weekend at Coors Field, of all places.
Gausman looked like the first half version that buckled down every time there was a runner in scoring position. With Tatis on second as the tying run in the sixth, he got Jake Cronenworth to bounce out to short.
Gausman finished with a 2.81 ERA in 33 starts and struck out 227 batters in 192 innings. He’s going to be a very rich man in a few months.
The Giants have sent 405 pinch-hitters to the plate this season, shattering the previous MLB record. It has paid off in some huge moments. Slater came off the bench in the bottom of the sixth and hit for LaMonte Wade Jr., and he crushed Ross Detwiler’s first pitch to left-center to give the Giants the lead.
Wade has been one of the league’s best players in the late innings, but Gabe Kapler has been consistent: Slater gets those at-bats against lefties when the game is on the line, and for the second time in 10 days he hit a huge pinch-hit blast off a lefty Padres reliever.
The pinch-hit homer was the 18th of the season for the Giants, breaking the MLB record previously held by the 2016 St. Louis Cardinals. Slater has four of them, tying a franchise record for a single season.
Crawford has never batted above .275 in the big leagues, but he entered the final weekend at .298. He doubled, got hit by a pitch and struck out in his first three plate appearances.
Crawford led off the ninth against Tim Hill and flied out to deep center. He’s batting .299 with one game left in the season.
Source: NBC Bay Area