SAN FRANCISCO -- Gabe Kapler has managed 227 games with the Giants and has yet to be ejected. He doesn't really criticize anyone after games, especially not umpires.
But there was no avoiding discussing a call after the 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers that ended the Giants' season. The final out came on a check-swing call on Wilmer Flores that their dugout and 42,000 fans disagreed with. Kapler said he did not think Flores went, but he was measured in his comments.
"It's super tough," Kapler said. "Obviously you don't want a game to end that way. I know these guys work really hard to make the right call. It's super challenging on our end. Obviously, it's going to be frustrating to have a game end like that. It's a pretty high-quality hitter at the plate that can climb back into that at-bat. There's no guarantee of success in that at-bat, but it's just a tough way to end it.
"Right now there's no need to be angry about that. I just think it's a disappointing way for that to end. There are other reasons why we didn't win today's baseball game. That was just the last call of the game."
It's one that will be remembered in this rivalry for a long, long time, and that's ironic, because part of the reason this Game 5 was at Oracle Park was a check swing call. The Giants won a game at Dodger Stadium earlier this year when Darin Ruf, who went further than Flores did, was not called for a swing. Ruf smiled and shook his head as he talked about the ending Thursday night.
"It didn't look like he went," he said. "A check swing earlier in the year helped us, too. It's kind of funny how it comes down to those two events."
In the immediate aftermath, Kapler and his players made it clear that this game did not get decided by one call. The Giants struggled offensively all series long, and they managed just one run Thursday on Ruf's homer. With two outs and two strikes on Flores, Max Scherzer was still in the driver's seat. But it was a disappointing way to go down for a team that won 109 games.
Kapler said the immediate emotion was frustration. But by the time he sat down behind a podium he was pushing to talk about how much his team accomplished and how proud he was of the character they showed all year.
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The Giants played the heavily-favored Dodgers 24 times this year. Both teams ended up with 12 wins, and the team that won last moved on to the NLCS. The Dodgers simply pitched better over five games, and in the end that, not a call, is what sent the Giants home for the winter.
"You get into the postseason, you're going to face really kick-ass pitching," Kapler said. "I think we put good at-bats together. We just weren't able to get the job done."