NBC Sports

Kapler says Giants 'just have to be better' against Dodgers

NBC Sports
Giants' Austin Slater

In this era of matching up, a bullpen game is not necessarily an easy task for a lineup, especially if that bullpen includes some of the talent the Los Angeles Dodgers throw at you. But coming off a series at Oracle Park in which they couldn't handle Trevor Bauer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias, and with the knowledge that Buehler, Urias and Clayton Kershaw are waiting the rest of this weekend, the bullpen game was going to be by far the easiest one to get.

The Giants did not get it. 

They had just three hits against seven relievers -- two homers and a bunt single -- and lost 4-3 in their first game at Dodger Stadium this season. The Giants are 0-4 against the one team above all others that they'll need to pass this season. 

The Giants are 30-16 against the rest of the big leagues, but they haven't had an answer for the reigning champs yet, and that has taken some of the shine off a very, very good first 50 games. 

"We've gotten off to a good start. We've got a ways to go," manager Gabe Kapler said in a postgame video conference. "We've done some good work, and obviously we need to play better against the Dodgers."

This one was another nail-biter, and it was entirely decided by the long ball. Alex Wood had his roughest outing as a Giant, giving up four runs on three homers, and the last one was the difference. 

 

The Dodgers got early homers from Justin Turner and DJ Peters, but the Giants countered with blasts by Evan Longoria and Donovan Solano. The tiebreaker came from -- who else -- Max Muncy, who now has 11 career homers in 39 games against the Giants. 

Wood said he got "too cute" and threw too many fastballs to the Dodgers. His own lineup wasn't able to return the favor and went down especially quietly against the best of the Dodgers' bullpen. The Giants struck out four times in the final two frames against Blake Treinen and Kenley Jansen, including Buster Posey's whiff in his first pinch-hit appearance of the year. 

The fact that Posey hit for Mauricio Dubon was a slight shift in strategy for Kapler, who has prioritized full days off for his star catcher. But Posey had been 8-for-23 against Jansen coming in, and the Giants simply don't have many answers against the Dodgers right now.  

"We can do a better job as an offense, obviously," Kapler said. "Bullpen days are tough and, frankly, I thought [the Dodgers] did a nice job of matching up. They were going to get the platoon advantage every time they brought a pitcher into the game. We tried to counter it the best that we could, particularly there at the end once they had gone through (Victor) Gonzalez and they didn't have any lefties yet.

"I think we have a better game in us as an offense and they threw the ball well. They pitched well."

RELATED: Why Gausman reminds Kuip of two former Giants aces

The road won't get any smoother. Buehler and Urias dominated the Giants last weekend, and Kershaw has spent a decade holding them down. Kapler has Anthony DeSclafani, Logan Webb and Kevin Gausman lined up, but he'll need his offense to finally step up against the Dodgers, too. 

"We just have to be better," Kapler said. "It's not going to get any easier for us, so we're going to have to make small adjustments along the way. There aren't big adjustments to make. We'll trust that those adjustments will turn into some wins here."

Download and subscribe to the Giants Talk Podcast