The Giants won 15 of 20 to get into position to make the playoffs, but much of that good work was done against teams that won't be playing in October. This series against the San Diego Padres gives them a look at the type of team they'll have to beat if they get there, and the first night was a bucket of cold water.
Trevor Cahill got lit up early and the red-hot lineup fell flat against a parade of Padres relievers. The 6-1 loss on the first night of a four-game series snapped a five-game winning streak for the Giants. Here are three things to know about a game that would have looked more at home in past seasons ...
A New Weapon
Drew Smyly missed 35 games with a left index finger strain, but he came back throwing harder and should be a nice tool down the stretch, either in the rotation or the bullpen. It would be easy for the Giants to slide Smyly into Cahill's spot, but they're off next Monday and Thursday so they don't need a fifth starter the next time through. Smyly could end up seeing some high-leverage bullpen innings for now.
He pitched four relief innings in his return, striking out eight, including seven of the first 10 batters he faced.
The most impressive thing was the velocity, with Smyly averaging 94.5 mph on his fastball and topping out at 95.9. He averaged 93.3 mph before getting hurt.
Better Than Ever
Padres starter Chris Paddack lasted just two innings because of a sprained ankle. He was sharp before he departed, striking out four, but Wilmer Flores tagged him for a solo homer to left.
The blast was the ninth of the season for Flores, tying his total from all of last season -- in 100-plus fewer at-bats. Flores, 29, actually is homering at the highest rate of his career, with one every 16.8 at-bats. His previous high was one every 18.7 at-bats, with the 2017 Mets.
Too Many Whiffs
The Giants struck out 14 times, tying their season-high. They had no answers for the San Diego bullpen once Paddack was removed, and even old friend Pierce Johnson got involved.
Johnson pitched for the Giants 37 times in 2018 and then went over to Japan last year and posted a 1.38 ERA for the Hanshin Tigers. The Padres brought him back and he has become a dependable arm for their bullpen with a 3.07 ERA. He struck out a pair in a scoreless seventh inning.