LOS ANGELES -- Logan Webb was despondent as he stood in the middle of the visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium late Friday night. He had allowed just one run over six innings, continuing his run of dominance against the rival, and he did so after allowing five baserunners and throwing 51 pitches in the first two innings. But this was no night for moral victories.
"It sucks," Webb said. "I feel like s--t about that first inning. It was my job to set the tone and I didn't do it."
Webb had asked to start the second game of the second half, hoping that he could team with Carlos Rodón to get the Giants off to a good start against a group that Webb deemed an "All-Star team over there." They haven't done it, but through little fault of their own.
The Dodgers might be the team of All-Stars, but on Friday night the issue was the Giants' lack of execution, not lack of talent. They lost 5-1 when Cody Bellinger crushed a hanging curveball for a grand slam, and that came after Sam Long drilled a left-handed batter to load the bases, which came after LaMonte Wade Jr. made an error on a routine grounder to first.
You can rank those in any order you want, but all were killers in what was a tied game.
"All three are mistakes we can be better at," manager Gabe Kapler said.
That was the diplomatic answer. The undiplomatic one would be that the pitch to Bellinger simply can't happen in a spot like that, just as walking Bellinger on four pitches -- as Jarlin Garcia did on Thursday to set the table for Mookie Betts -- also cannot happen.
Bellinger had not hit an 0-2 pitch out of the park in nearly two years, and he's a long way from his MVP days, but Long made a mistake and the Giants paid dearly for it.
"I told myself not to give him too much to hit there in an 0-2 count," Long said. "I just didn't execute."
That was the story of the night, and really has been the story of the season for the Giants, who now sit 14 1/2 games out in the NL West. They have followed the same playbook as they did while winning 107 games, but the plays are no longer being made.
Perhaps the most notable example came a few minutes before Bellinger's slam. Kapler made a somewhat surprising move, sending David Villar up to hit for Brandon Belt when the Dodgers brought tough lefty Alex Vesia in with two runners on and two outs in the top of the eight.
This was Kapler sending a rookie up to the plate to hit for a veteran who was his best hitter last season, but the numbers added up for the staff. Belt has a .561 OPS against lefties this year and Vesia is holding lefties to a .415 OPS. When the two squared off in the seventh on Thursday, Belt tried to bunt a two-strike pitch and struck out.
The pinch-hit decision Friday was the type of move the Giants have tried to embrace since Kapler and a new staff took over. Even Belt can be hit for if the evidence is overwhelming, and last year it probably would have worked out. But here in 2022, Villar grounded out softly to second.
"It's just the way that we've been doing it and it's been overall, I think, a very successful venture," Kapler said. "It's not always going to work out."
That's been the theme for the Giants for most of the last three months. Far too often, things haven't worked out.