PHILADELPHIA — The Giants are not the type of group to come out and publicly say what you might be seeing. There are cracks in the armor if you pay attention, a glare caught on camera, an angry shake of the head in the dugout, perhaps a player who doesn’t rush into battle as punches fly.
But in interviews, the players stick to the non-controversial. After Sunday’s loss to the Phillies, two players prefaced answers by saying, “It’s a cliché, but …” Manager Bruce Bochy will mostly do the same, but his frustration showed for a brief moment after his team became the first in five weeks to lose a series to the Phillies.
Fifteen minutes after the final out of a 9-7 loss, it was pointed out to Bochy that most of his players have not dealt with a season this bad. Is there anything he conveys in times like this?
“What do you want me to convey?” he said, his voice quickly rising. “They’re men out there. They’re men. They know where they’re at. We’ve had meetings.”
Where they’re at is right near the bottom. After Sunday’s 9-7 loss — and a series loss — the Giants sit at 23-35, good for 29th out of 30 teams. That 30th team is the Phillies, who had not won a series since the last week of April. They took both weekend games, shutting down an inconsistent lineup on Saturday and beating up an inconsistent bullpen on Sunday.
The trouble actually started in the early innings, with Matt Moore, who gave up five runs, lasted just four, and lifted his road ERA to an unsightly 7.94. The Giants battled back, with Brandon Crawford driving in four runs with two hits — including a homer. The lead didn’t last long. Josh Osich walked the leadoff batter in the seventh on four pitches and a double soon tied it up. Maikel Franco took Derek Law deep to open the eighth and Freddy Galvis added an insurance run with another homer off Law.
“We just made some terrible pitches … ahead in the count, we’ve got to pitch smarter than this,” Bochy said. “You can’t do those things in this ballpark and we paid for it. We just didn’t execute pitches today. We got what you’re going to get when you don’t make pitches, especially when the count is in your favor.”
The late failures cost the Giants a series win, but to be honest, even that was a low bar. This is a team that’s so far in the hole that sweeps are needed on weekends like this one. As Phillies fans rained occasional boos down on the home team for three days, the Giants couldn’t even secure a second win. They now go to Milwaukee to face the first-place Brewers, followed by a home series against the first-place Twins.
Both of those teams — young, springy, brimming with upside — are surprises. They are ahead of schedule in their bid to contend, and the Giants appear ahead of a different schedule. This was always going to be a roster that needed a reload or rebuild at some point, but 2018 was viewed by many internally as the earliest possible year for a breakdown.
Instead, here they are, leading only the Phillies in the standings.
Four years ago, Brian Sabean got on a conference call with reporters who were sitting in the press box in Philadelphia. He said he would not sell Hunter Pence, Javier Lopez and Tim Lincecum. How could the front office watch this series and think the same path should be followed? Time will tell if the Giants decide to blow things up, or even embrace a partial sell-off. For now, they remain forever in search of something positive to hold onto. Crawford said the players come in every day focusing on that night's game. The results just aren't there.
“We’re used to winning. This organization has for years won a lot of games,” he said. “You kind of get used to it as a player. It is surprising when you lose, and like I said, it’s frustrating. You’ve just got to come out and expect you’re going to win, and go out there with a positive attitude.”