There was the disappointment that comes with any season’s premature end after Game 60, the Giants’ third straight loss to finish a season when just one win would have propelled them to Los Angeles.
And yet, there was also reason for Evan Longoria to reflect on the actual life he has been missing out on.
“A lot of guys haven’t had their families here. A lot of guys have been separated,” said Longoria, who is in that category, his family living in Florida. “I’m definitely looking forward to getting back home and being able to see my kids and wife.”
The Giants sacrificed so much to make it through 60 games and dealt with hurdles that kept propping up in a season in which many already came hammered in. They could not live outside their bubble, essentially, unable to see friends and family in many cases. There were times when they physically could not go outside, terrible air quality in Seattle keeping them indoors being flying back to San Francisco. Or there was that time they couldn’t leave their hotel rooms in San Diego because Alex Dickerson had tested positive, more games shifted around as they dealt with a false positive that left Dickerson worried about his wife, who was approaching her due date.
They both dodged and absorbed blows, going the two months without a new COVID case that was more than a scare. And they could not reward themselves after all those sacrifices with a playoff run.
“It stings,” Gabe Kapler said after the 5-4 loss to the Padres on Sunday at Oracle Park that knocked them from contention. “We did overcome a lot dealing with the ups and downs of the season — just the same that the other clubs had to deal with it, but I think some extra difficult circumstances for our club, and we ended up handling it.
“Obviously you want that to lead to wins in the end. I think we did a really nice job relative to some teams. I think our pitching stayed fairly healthy. We did a really nice job from a COVID perspective, but also just staying on the field generally speaking. You want that to lead to wins, and you want that to lead to the postseason. And it stings that it didn’t.”
Needing what turned out to be just one win because of the Phillies’ and Brewers’ struggles, they instead were outscored 17-11 in their final three games against a Padres club that no longer was playing for much. They threw a bullpen game Sunday and lifted Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado midgame, as well as losing catcher Jason Castro to injury. DH Austin Nola had to switch to catcher, which meant their pitchers had to hit, too.
But the Giants could not take advantage and struggled against the Padres’ pen. On Saturday they also whiffed repeatedly against the San Diego relievers while never getting the big hit and running themselves out of one potential rally. In Friday’s nightcap, it was Sam Coonrod’s implosion that cost them.
“Baseball happened,” Mike Yastrzemski said, asked what had gone wrong. “That’s how the game goes. We ran into a good team, and they were executing. Every time that we would punch, they would punch back. They didn’t take any games off. I think that we just fell a little bit short. No rhyme or reason, that’s how baseball goes.
“… We just weren’t exactly on top of our best games for the last three games.”
Kapler, too, complimented a San Diego club that will host a first-round series with the Cardinals.
“They pitched well. They really kept us at bay,” said Kapler, whose Giants went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position in the three-game ditch. “But throughout the series, they got more big hits than we got, made more pitches than we did and played crisper games. At the end of the day, that’s why you lose a series, because the other team played better than you.”
By many measures, the Giants overachieved. They were never supposed to be a playoff club, even with the expanded postseason. Veterans had bounce-back seasons, younger players took steps.
But those steps led to Game 60 and no further. There will be no playoff matchup with the Dodgers.
“We set out this season to play meaningful games until the end of the season. We did that,” Kapler said over Zoom. “We played 60 meaningful games. We fought in every one of them.”