SAN FRANCISCO -- The 2021 Giants were not the most talented bunch in MLB history, but few teams have ever been more consistent.
They won 107 games and shocked the rest of the league by becoming the first team since the 1942 Brooklyn Dodgers to play .600 baseball every month of the season, but it's been a much different story a year later. The Giants went 14-7 in April, but they've followed that with a losing month and now a .500 month, and there are no signs that the train is getting back on track anytime soon.
Wednesday's 3-2 loss did not look particularly bad on paper, but if you watched how it all unfolded, you saw a day in which the game was at multiple points put on a platter for the Giants. They politely passed each time, and they were undone by one of their own defining characteristics.
This is a team built on platoons, so it was no surprise when Austin Slater hit for Joc Pederson against a tough lefty reliever in the sixth. That's what the Giants do, but on this day it burned them.
Pederson has been their best hitter throughout the inconsistent first half and his spot came up again in the seventh, this time with the bases loaded, the Giants trailing by one and a right-handed reliever on the mound. It was a spot tailor-made for Pederson, but his day was done and Slater struck out for a second time.
"I have a lot of confidence in all of our players, Slater included. I think he's come up with some of the bigger hits we've had all season," manager Gabe Kapler said. "We pinch-hit early to try to get an advantage earlier in the game with the understanding that it's possible that that spot does come back up. When it does come back up, we have a lot of confidence that the person that's in that spot can also do some damage and get a big hit. Slater has certainly proven that this year against righties and lefties."
The carefully orchestrated plan didn't work Wednesday, and the Giants were even haunted in the ninth. On his first day back, LaMonte Wade Jr. -- who is also platooned just about every day -- came up against a lefty closer throwing 100 mph, but the Giants had run out of right-handed bats.
It was the type of game that rarely showed up last season, but it has become the norm over the last couple of months. The Giants are handling games the same way they did last year, but the big hits have dried up. They left nine runners on base and wasted two golden opportunities to break the game open.
A fielding misplay and a well-placed broken bat led to a couple of singles that helped load the bases in the third, but Pederson struck out and Brandon Belt missed a grand slam by a few feet. In the seventh, the Giants got two bloop singles and two walks, along with a roller that was too slow for an inning-ending double play. The luck was on their side, but that's when Slater came back up in Pederson's spot, striking out to limit the rally to one run.
The offense didn't need to provide much more than that on this day, as Alex Wood rediscovered his slider and pitched well. But Wood's final pitch in the sixth undid what should have been a strong line in the box score. He threw a slider down and in and Eric Haase yanked it out to left for a two-run homer that proved to be the game-winner.
With one more well-executed pitch, Wood walks off with one run in six innings. Instead, it was another box score that did not match the way he felt, a theme for the back of the rotation. Wood called the day "extremely frustrating" because the results did not match the way he was throwing. That's been the case for all of the starters except Logan Webb and Carlos Rodón.
Asked about the Giants playing .500 baseball for the last two months, Wood put the onus on the starting staff.
"Webby and Los have put up their lines and I think the rest of us need to step our s*** up and start having the lines match up with how we're feeling and putting up some zeroes and finishing starts with zeroes on the board or one run on the board," he said. "A lot of those one-run games are on us. We've just got to come out and keep grinding and get after it."