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Costly mistakes against inferior teams piling up for Giants

NBC Sports
Matt Reynolds

SAN FRANCISCO -- Exactly two weeks ago at Oracle Park, the Giants shut out the Los Angeles Dodgers, finishing off a sweep that seemed like it might jumpstart the reigning NL West champions after a lackadaisical stretch of baseball. After that game, manager Gabe Kapler stood in his office and tried not to make too much of the sweep.

"We're gonna not get too high or too low," he said. 

It's a good thing that's his gameplan. 

The Giants on Sunday hit a low point, falling 10-3 at home to the Cincinnati Reds, a team that is on pace for 106 losses but has taken both series against the Giants this season. It was not just that the Giants lost two of three this weekend, it was how they did it. 

There are going to be days when the lineup can't handle a tough starter or the staff can't make enough pitches. That's baseball. They existed last season, too, although not in great quantities. 

What is so surprising about this year's Giants team is that pretty much the exact same roster that won 107 games has given away so many games by simply piling up the mistakes. All 10 runs the Giants allowed Sunday came with two outs, and seven came after Anthony DeSclafani cruised through the first two innings and then got two quick outs in the third. Then the wheels came off. 

 

DeSclafani missed his location badly with a 3-2 sinker to Brandon Drury and gave up an RBI triple. Tommy Pham got a hanging 0-2 slider and drove it back up the middle. Joey Votto lined a double, and then came the real backbreaker. 

With two on, Matt Reynolds hit a high fly ball to center and DeSclafani took a couple of steps toward the dugout. The inning should have been over, but Austin Slater had broken in on the ball. It kept carrying and landed over his head, driving in another run and keeping the inning going. DeSclafani would never get that third out. 

With two outs in the fifth, the Giants got another ball that should have ended an inning and stranded runners. But Jarlin Garcia was late getting to first and Brandon Belt's throw got away from him anyway. For a moment, as Reds continued to circle the bases, the ball sat in the dirt in front of the visiting dugout. Finally, Curt Casali ran over and scooped it up. 

That play was the backbreaker for many of the 32,000 in attendance, and it was hard to blame them. Groans and some boos were heard from a crowd that does not generally come to Oracle Park to show displeasure, but the Giants were on their way to losing to the lowly Reds for the fourth time in six games this season. They played some of their worst baseball of the year against a team that came in with a seven-game losing streak and started this week by getting swept at home by the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers. 

"I don't think we've played good baseball in either one of those series, obviously," Kapler said. "I don't think that's any big revelation. I just don't think it matters, the fact that it was the Reds or any other team. We play good baseball, we beat good teams. We played good baseball in the Dodgers series and won that series. We've played poor series against teams with worse records. I just don't put a lot of stock in who is on the other side of the field. We are either losing games or winning games most of the time."

The Giants will never call out an opposing team for being awful, and you can't blame them. But everyone else can, and it's also not hard for outsiders to pinpoint a major difference year over year. This same group beat up on the little guys last season, going an MLB-best 72-27 against teams that were under .500. This year, the Giants are 21-15 against losing teams. 

The mistakes against inferior opponents are adding up, and the Giants have not shown enough talent thus far to outrun them. They won 107 games and then decided to mostly run it back, replacing Kevin Gausman with Carlos Rodón, adding Joc Pederson, and spending the rest of their time working around the edges or bringing back members of the 107-win team. 

 

The only contract of more than two years the Giants handed out over the winter went to DeSclafani, and through five starts he has allowed 35 hits and 21 earned runs in 19 innings. On Sunday, he was charged with seven earned in 2 2/3 innings. 

"I look at my first two innings and everything went relatively smooth," he said. "I felt like I had good life on my stuff. The third inning just got really long and my command kind of went out the window."

DeSclafani said the unraveling in the third was "unacceptable." Asked what he needed to do to find last year's form, he gave a quick two-word answer.

"Not suck."

It might be a full week before DeSclafani has a chance to wipe away the memories of this one. The Giants are off on Monday and Thursday, and the first of those two off days couldn't come at a better time for the oldest roster in the National League. 

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Kapler said this is a good time for the team to reset and let everyone get a breather. But that won't be the case for a staff that will be breaking down one of the worst series of the year. He said "there's some work to be done" on the day off. 

"I think for me and some of our staff it's a good time for us to get together and talk about how to right the ship and get back on track," Kapler said.

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