Near the end of a Zoom session with reporters after Sunday's 2-1 loss, Gabe Kapler delivered a rare bit of good news from the weekend in St. Louis. Kapler said he's "pretty confident" that he'll have Buster Posey and Kevin Gausman back in his starting lineup Monday night for the start of a huge four-game series at Dodger Stadium.
The Giants could certainly use both, but Kapler didn't want to look any further than that one game. This upcoming series is the biggest one of the year, with first place on the line, but on Sunday, Kapler was focused on what he had just watched. His lineup once again fell short every time there was a runner in scoring position, once again looking relatively lifeless.
The Giants scored two total runs in dropping both weekend games to the Cardinals. They repeatedly failed to come up with the one big hit in the late innings Sunday, but Kapler's focus was elsewhere.
He was particularly bummed that the lineup couldn't score after loading the bases with one out in the first and after getting runners on the corners with no outs in the sixth.
"We kinda have to cash in on those opportunities," he said.
The lone run came from Darin Ruf's solo homer, which is the way the lineup often goes. It has led to the best record in baseball, but on days when balls aren't clearing the wall, the Giants have often looked average or worse offensively.
Kapler took solace in the fact that his lineup has been here before. After a quiet weekend in Washington D.C., the Giants scored 42 runs during a five-game winning streak. After last week's series loss to the Cardinals, they responded by sweeping the Nationals.
"I think it's really important to use past experiences to remind us just how good we are. More importantly, to remind us that very good offensive teams, very good baseball teams, go through periods of time where you're just kind of dry," Kapler said. "The runners in scoring position thing, you're not getting the big hit, you're hitting into some bad luck, and all of those things feel really heavy. But we remember that right after those times you can have offensive explosions, and I could not have more confidence in this group, particularly as we just get healthier and healthier. Our lineup just gets deeper and more difficult for a pitcher to grind through.
"I can say that I don't think this is our best offensive performance over the last couple of days. I can say we need to do a better job of cashing in on big situations, and at the same time I can say I believe in these guys to do that often going forward."
The Giants will need to find their old form quickly. The Dodgers twice blew a lead at Coors Field on Sunday, failing to slide into a tie for first, but they’ve been playing good baseball in recent weeks. While they're missing two of their top three starters -- Clayton Kershaw and Trevor Bauer -- they still have a strong rotation. The Giants will get their own ace back Monday, kicking off the series in style.
"It's going to be a fun series, for sure," Ruf said. "Dodger Stadium, obviously they always pack and their fans are super-energetic and we have a big following that likes to come see us, too. It'll be a fun game (Monday) and I think every game is going to be extremely close.
"All the little things in games like that matter. You really have to lock in on every single pitch and stay focused and make sure those little things go your way."