Giants

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 9-2 win vs. Rangers

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 9-2 win vs. Rangers

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The Giants have a very specific skill that stands out thus far, and luckily, it's a good one for their division. With a 9-2 thrashing of the Rangers, who started Mike Minor, the Giants improved to 3-0 this season against left-handed starters.  

This was an interleague game, of course, but beating up on lefties is a skill a lineup needs in the National League West. Through the first week-plus, the Giants are hanging right in there with a 4-4 record. 

This one was tight for a few innings, but Wilmer Flores broke it open and the Giants kept adding on against a bad Rangers bullpen. Here are three things you need to know from the fourth win of the year ... 

He Was There for You

Flores' walk-up song -- the theme from "Friends" -- seemed to be a touch louder in the fifth inning, and he backed it up with his biggest hit as a Giant. Flores somehow pulled a 2-2 slider that looked headed for his front foot, hitting a three-run shot a few feet over the left field wall that turned a one-run deficit into a two-run lead. 

The homer was the second of the year for Flores, who became the first free agent to get a multi-year contract from the Giants under Farhan Zaidi. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Trompical Storm

The new catcher had a big night. Chadwick Tromp picked up his first career hit in the fifth, hitting a hard single to right that helped lead to the Flores homer. He came up an inning later and pulled a double to left, bringing Darin Ruf home. 

A Joey Bart call-up isn't imminent, meaning it's Tromp and Tyler Heineman behind the plate for the time being. Tromp figures to get a lot of time against lefties, and the Giants will see another one Sunday. 

[RELATED: How Luciano impressed Giants hitting coach Ecker in camp]

Underrated Start 

Through eight games, the Giants have yet to have a starter complete five innings, the longest stretch to start a season in MLB history. That's put a lot of pressure on the middle relievers, and a young lefty has stepped up. 

Conner Menez entered with the bases loaded in the fifth inning and got Rougned Odor to pop up on the first pitch, ending the inning and keeping the Giants within a run. Menez came back out for the sixth and pitched a perfect frame. 

Menez has allowed two runs but just a couple of baserunners in 5 1/3 innings. The Giants want him to trust his stuff and stop trying to be so fine, and the early results are encouraging. Perhaps he'll find a home there as a bullpen lefty. 

Giants' historic meltdown filled with inexplicable late-game decisions

Giants' historic meltdown filled with inexplicable late-game decisions

The years 1929 and 2020 will always be connected in American history. The former was the year the stock market crashed, leading to the Great Depression. The latter is, well, we're living it, and it's also an all-consuming nightmare. 

In the Giants' history books, those two years now also are connected. And there's some depression involved with this comparison, too. 

The Giants lost to the A's 8-7 Friday night after leading 7-2 in the ninth inning Friday night. If that seems like a nearly impossible result, that's because it is. The Giants had not blown a five-run lead in the ninth inning or later since 1929, amassing 2,133 consecutive wins in that situation, according to Stats Perform.

For all the history there, this unbelievable loss actually unfolded quite cleanly. When the game was over, suffering a historic loss made sense, mostly because just about everything the Giants had done in that fateful inning raised further questions. 

It started with the choice of a pitcher. Gabe Kapler turned to Trevor Gott, his closer, with a five-run lead, which is certainly defensible. But while Gott has not officially been named the closer, that is his role and those guys often have a strange time when asked to finish off a blowout. 

Kapler said the staff chose Gott because they figured they might need to get Gott up anyway if they went with Jarlin Garcia or Trevor Rogers, and that's no day off.

"The thought process is how can we use one pitcher there," Kapler said. 

That leads to an obvious question. How can you trust your secondary relievers in any situation again if you're not confident they can record three outs before giving up five runs

We'll leave that one alone for now. As it was, Gott was the choice and he clearly didn't have it. Gott's velocity was normal, but his command was off. Kapler stuck with him, and he said he didn't think Gott was thrown off by the situation. 

"I totally get why that's where you might go, 'Maybe he's not used to that situation.' He's been pitching in higher-leverage situations, and those are things that are true. But what I saw out there was a very focused and aggressive and intense competitor who just didn't have command and got beat as a result."

Gott gave up a homer and then issued a walk with one out. The Giants still were in decent shape, but then Wilmer Flores made an inexplicable decision on a grounder to first base.

Flores took two steps toward the bag and then, with just one more needed for the 26th out of the night, spun and threw to second. Brandon Crawford slipped his foot off second a split-second too soon, apparently thinking Flores had touched first, and both runners were safe. 

Instead of having a four-run lead with two outs and a runner on second, Gott had two runners on and just one out. 

"I should have just stepped on first base with that lead that we had," Flores said after the game. 

Crawford had come in as a defensive replacement, but Kapler said he wanted to give Brandon Belt a night off because he has some lower-half soreness and the staff trusted Flores to get through that final inning. 

"It's [Flores'] best position and we wanted to do everything possible to get Brandon Belt a day and get him ready for tomorrow," Kapler said. 

The problem was Belt did end up playing. He struck out as a pinch-hitter in the 10th with the tying run on second, swinging through three fastballs from Liam Hendricks. That's fast-forwarding, though. 

After Flores' mistake, Gott hit a batter to load the bases and then hung a curveball that Stephen Piscotty blasted to left for a grand slam that completed the historic comeback. 

[RELATED: Giants given relatively good news with Slater's MRI results]

The Giants went to extra innings for the third time this year, and Garcia entered and got a grounder, flyout and grounder. That was enough, though, to move the placed runner from second to home for the go-ahead run. Three Giants struck out in a similar situation in the bottom of the inning, and that was the end. 

So there you have it, that's how you suffer a loss that hasn't been seen since 1929. It was a trainwreck, but a gradual one, and it seemed to leave the Giants stunned. Kapler said he would process the loss as the night went on. 

"We'll talk about it and figure out ways to get better for tomorrow," he said. "And things we could have done differently."

Dave Kaval trolls Giants fans after A's comeback 8-7 extra-inning win

Dave Kaval trolls Giants fans after A's comeback 8-7 extra-inning win

A's president Dave Kaval loves to troll the Giants and their fans.

LOVES IT.

So when the Giants blew a five-run ninth-inning lead Friday night and lost 8-7 in extra innings to the A's at Oracle Park, Kaval took the opportunity to get in a shot at fans in San Francisco.

Sorry Dave, but Giants fans aren't jumping on the bandwagon of a team that hasn't won a World Series since 1989, and hasn't gotten out of the Wild Card Game the last two years.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Also, a majority of Market Street in San Francisco now is car-free thanks to the Better Market Street project, which was implemented at the end of January. So Kaval would be unsuccessful if he tried to drive the A's bandwagon down the major thoroughfare.

At the end of June, Kaval poked fun at the Giants by tweeting that the A's would have a fan section of cardboard cut-outs at the Oakland Coliseum, and that it would be in prime seagull territory.

In the past, Kaval has led an "armada" of A's fans on kayaks into McCovey Cove, and he even set up a program where Giants fans could exchange their SF hats for A's hats.

[RELATED: Giants' inexplicable decisions led to historic meltdown]

Kaval is riding high right now. The A's (14-6) have the best record in the American League, while the Giants (8-13) hold the second-worst record in the National League.

We'll see who gets the last laugh when the playoffs roll around for the A's.