Giants' Gabe Kapler has embarrassing moment in extra-innings blowout

Giants' Gabe Kapler has embarrassing moment in extra-innings blowout

Gabe Kapler's first experience with MLB's quirky new extra-innings rule was one he'll never forget, for all the wrong reasons. 

The Giants completely unraveled in the 10th inning, giving up six runs in an eventual 12-7 loss to the Padres, with an embarrassing moment for Kapler and his new staff mixed into the middle of the carnage. Kapler came out to remove Tyler Rogers with four runs already in, but because pitching coach Andrew Bailey had just been out to the mound, Rogers was not allowed to be removed. He was called back from the dugout to face one more batter. 

The moment brought back memories of two previous screwups, one that Kapler's predecessor caught and one that Kapler made himself. 

One of Bruce Bochy's finest regular season moments came in 2010 when he caught Don Mattingly turning around and going back to the mound for what counted as a second visit, causing the umpires to remove Jonathan Broxton in a game the Giants would go on to win. One of Kapler's lowest moments in his first stint as a manager came in his first series, when he called for a reliever -- Hoby Milner -- who wasn't even warming up. The umpires took pity on Milner and did let him get a few tosses in for the sake of his health, but Kapler reportedly received a letter from MLB for his decision that day. 

Kapler came to San Francisco hoping to leave bullpen management questions in his past, and he generally pushed the right buttons through the first six games this season, particularly in two wins over the Dodgers over the weekend. That wasn't the case Thursday, and he started his postgame press conference with an explanation.

"That was just a mental screw-up on my part," Kapler said. "I've been around the game for a long time and I just had a lapse in memory in the dugout. We were talking about a lot of different things and I popped out there and went and got him and obviously that was just a mental screwup on my part. I just wanted to own that. It's 100 percent my responsibility."

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Kapler also apologized to Rogers, who was the one left hanging. In the worst outing of his career, the right-hander already had made it back to the dugout when the umpires informed the Giants of the mistake. Rogers stood and stared out at the meeting on the mound for a few seconds, then walked back out for one more pitch, a squeeze bunt that gave the Padres their fifth run of an inning that started with a runner on second. 

"Gabe is a stand-up guy and when he makes a mistake, he'll be the first one to say it," Roger said. "I told him it's OK. If I would have just pitched a little better, he wouldn't have had to do that."

Rogers had an easy ninth, and when the game went to extras he became the first Giant to experience the runner-on-second rule, which is designed to speed up games in this season being played during a pandemic. He walked Manny Machado on a blown 3-1 call and then gave up a single to Tommy Pham that brought the placed runner home. 

Trevor Gott was warming up, but Kapler stuck with Rogers. He drilled a batter and gave up two more singles, and when Austin Hedges walked up to the plate with no outs, Bailey came out for a meeting that allowed Rico Garcia a bit more time to get loose. When Bailey returned to the dugout, Hedges dug in and got ready. But Kapler -- who has tended to jog out for pitching changes -- left the dugout and walked towards the mound, signaling for Garcia with his right arm. 

Because Bailey and Kapler had gone out back-to-back, Rogers was sent back out during the commercial break. 

"Gabe came and got the ball from me so I walked into the dugout, that's about all it was," Rogers said. "They told me I had to go back out. No big deal. You just roll with it."

Rogers gave up a fifth run before departing for good -- legally, this time. Garcia finished off the inning, and the Giants brought their own placed runner home in the bottom of the frame. But it was far too little, too late, and didn't distract from a difficult moment for a manager trying to prove that he was the right choice. 

[RELATED: Kapler explains why Giants sent Davis to Sacramento camp]

The Giants were off to a solid 3-3 start entering the night, and they wiped out a five-run deficit to send this one to extras. That 10th inning was tough to swallow, though, and it brought back some bad memories for the new manager.

"I think the most important thing is I just own it and take responsibility for it," Kapler said. "And don't make the same mistake twice."

Giants' historic meltdown filled with inexplicable late-game decisions

Giants' historic meltdown filled with inexplicable late-game decisions

The years 1929 and 2020 will always be connected in American history. The former was the year the stock market crashed, leading to the Great Depression. The latter is, well, we're living it, and it's also an all-consuming nightmare. 

In the Giants' history books, those two years now also are connected. And there's some depression involved with this comparison, too. 

The Giants lost to the A's 8-7 Friday night after leading 7-2 in the ninth inning Friday night. If that seems like a nearly impossible result, that's because it is. The Giants had not blown a five-run lead in the ninth inning or later since 1929, amassing 2,133 consecutive wins in that situation, according to Stats Perform.

For all the history there, this unbelievable loss actually unfolded quite cleanly. When the game was over, suffering a historic loss made sense, mostly because just about everything the Giants had done in that fateful inning raised further questions. 

It started with the choice of a pitcher. Gabe Kapler turned to Trevor Gott, his closer, with a five-run lead, which is certainly defensible. But while Gott has not officially been named the closer, that is his role and those guys often have a strange time when asked to finish off a blowout. 

Kapler said the staff chose Gott because they figured they might need to get Gott up anyway if they went with Jarlin Garcia or Trevor Rogers, and that's no day off.

"The thought process is how can we use one pitcher there," Kapler said. 

That leads to an obvious question. How can you trust your secondary relievers in any situation again if you're not confident they can record three outs before giving up five runs

We'll leave that one alone for now. As it was, Gott was the choice and he clearly didn't have it. Gott's velocity was normal, but his command was off. Kapler stuck with him, and he said he didn't think Gott was thrown off by the situation. 

"I totally get why that's where you might go, 'Maybe he's not used to that situation.' He's been pitching in higher-leverage situations, and those are things that are true. But what I saw out there was a very focused and aggressive and intense competitor who just didn't have command and got beat as a result."

Gott gave up a homer and then issued a walk with one out. The Giants still were in decent shape, but then Wilmer Flores made an inexplicable decision on a grounder to first base.

Flores took two steps toward the bag and then, with just one more needed for the 26th out of the night, spun and threw to second. Brandon Crawford slipped his foot off second a split-second too soon, apparently thinking Flores had touched first, and both runners were safe. 

Instead of having a four-run lead with two outs and a runner on second, Gott had two runners on and just one out. 

"I should have just stepped on first base with that lead that we had," Flores said after the game. 

Crawford had come in as a defensive replacement, but Kapler said he wanted to give Brandon Belt a night off because he has some lower-half soreness and the staff trusted Flores to get through that final inning. 

"It's [Flores'] best position and we wanted to do everything possible to get Brandon Belt a day and get him ready for tomorrow," Kapler said. 

The problem was Belt did end up playing. He struck out as a pinch-hitter in the 10th with the tying run on second, swinging through three fastballs from Liam Hendricks. That's fast-forwarding, though. 

After Flores' mistake, Gott hit a batter to load the bases and then hung a curveball that Stephen Piscotty blasted to left for a grand slam that completed the historic comeback. 

[RELATED: Giants given relatively good news with Slater's MRI results]

The Giants went to extra innings for the third time this year, and Garcia entered and got a grounder, flyout and grounder. That was enough, though, to move the placed runner from second to home for the go-ahead run. Three Giants struck out in a similar situation in the bottom of the inning, and that was the end. 

So there you have it, that's how you suffer a loss that hasn't been seen since 1929. It was a trainwreck, but a gradual one, and it seemed to leave the Giants stunned. Kapler said he would process the loss as the night went on. 

"We'll talk about it and figure out ways to get better for tomorrow," he said. "And things we could have done differently."

Dave Kaval trolls Giants fans after A's comeback 8-7 extra-inning win

Dave Kaval trolls Giants fans after A's comeback 8-7 extra-inning win

A's president Dave Kaval loves to troll the Giants and their fans.


So when the Giants blew a five-run ninth-inning lead Friday night and lost 8-7 in extra innings to the A's at Oracle Park, Kaval took the opportunity to get in a shot at fans in San Francisco.

Sorry Dave, but Giants fans aren't jumping on the bandwagon of a team that hasn't won a World Series since 1989, and hasn't gotten out of the Wild Card Game the last two years.

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Also, a majority of Market Street in San Francisco now is car-free thanks to the Better Market Street project, which was implemented at the end of January. So Kaval would be unsuccessful if he tried to drive the A's bandwagon down the major thoroughfare.

At the end of June, Kaval poked fun at the Giants by tweeting that the A's would have a fan section of cardboard cut-outs at the Oakland Coliseum, and that it would be in prime seagull territory.

In the past, Kaval has led an "armada" of A's fans on kayaks into McCovey Cove, and he even set up a program where Giants fans could exchange their SF hats for A's hats.

[RELATED: Giants' inexplicable decisions led to historic meltdown]

Kaval is riding high right now. The A's (14-6) have the best record in the American League, while the Giants (8-13) hold the second-worst record in the National League.

We'll see who gets the last laugh when the playoffs roll around for the A's.