After Sunday's loss in Atlanta, Giants manager Gabe Kapler was in no mood to talk about the overall success on the three-city road trip, noting that dropping the final game left a bad taste in his mouth. The same holds true for much longer periods of time.
The Giants lost the final three games of August and most of the fan base woke up on the first day of September tasting nothing but bitterness, but it's worth taking a step back for a moment. The month as a whole was actually one of the more successful ones in franchise history and helped the Giants do something no NL team had done in nearly 80 years.
The Giants finished 19-9 in August, a .679 winning percentage that was their best in August since the team moved to San Francisco. That continued a remarkably consistent run this season, one that has them in first place heading into the final month.
How do you stun the baseball world? The Giants have done it by just chugging along, winning just about every series, and piling one up one winning month after another. With the big August, they have a .600 winning percentage in the first five months this season, becoming the first NL team to do that since the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1942.
It may be hard to be in a mood to celebrate that fact after the last three games, but even this stretch is a good example of how consistent the Giants have been. It's just their third three-game losing streak of the season. Their longest winning streak is just six games. Compare that to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have seven three-game skids, but also two nine-game winning streaks and two eight-game streaks.
There are a lot of reasons for the Giants' consistency, perhaps most notably their depth and "next man up" attitude. But before Tuesday's game, Kapler pinpointed something specific about this group that stands out.
"I would attribute it to a mindset more than anything else. This is a team -- and I had a conversation with our hitting group today about this -- that we just don't get too high or too low," he said. "We understand that we're going to go through stretches where we're not scoring runs. Right now we've experienced recently the reverse of what we had in the beginning of the season, which is the starting pitching was covering a lot of innings and the bullpen wasn't covering quite as many. Now we've seen just the reverse, where the bullpen is having to cover some innings and the starting pitching isn't getting deep into games. We've seen that kind of ebb and flow with our offense in various ways.
"When those changes are happening, we're not throwing our hands up and (being) like, 'What does this mean?' It doesn't really matter -- we're winning baseball games in various ways."
In August, the formula was once again a different one. The bullpen covered 120 2 /3 innings, the third-most in the Majors, and ranked second with a 2.46 ERA. The other strength was a specific player; Logan Webb went 4-0 with a 1.41 ERA in six starts.
That strong pitching helped the Giants pick up their most wins in a single month this season and win 19 games in a month for the first time since that magical Alex Dickerson-led July of 2019 (19-6).
The month ended poorly, but the Giants managed to enter September in first place despite the Dodgers going 21-6 in August. They're going to keep the same tune they've had all year, hoping that leads to a big enough September to win the NL West.
"What I would also say is we are going to have a stretch of challenging games. It might be right now, and if we do, we're not going to be especially reactive to it, because we know that that's part of the season," Kapler said. "We've had some of those this year. We had a couple of them last year that were more pronounced. We're just going to stay as even as possible. I think that mindset will help us be consistent over the course of the season."