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Wood crumbles in final game of Padres sweep

Chris Mezzavilla | KNBR

Last year, Alex Wood was the Giants’ safety net. Whenever there was even the smallest hint of a potential skydive, he’d parachute their fall. He’d trampoline them back on track with a strong start.  

The Giants went 14-1 in games Wood started immediately after a loss in 2021. That’s including an NLDS Game 3 shutout in which Wood bested Max Scherzer. 

Not even Wood’s fabled “Stopper” superpower could fend off San Diego as the Padres swept the Giants for the first time since 2020. He lasted three innings and allowed eight of San Diego’s 17 hits. Manny Machado tied an all-time record for a Giants opponent with four extra base hits, and the Padres poured it on for a 10-1beat-down. 

After being virtually unbeatable in Wood “stop” situations last year, the Giants are 1-3 in Wood starts immediately following a loss this season. 

If there is some intangible effect that comes from starting games after a loss, it would be channeling whatever pressure the team felt into positive energy. 

“I think he takes it really seriously,” manager Gabe Kapler said pregame. “Not that he ever lacks motivation — he’s a motivated player, he’s one of the most prepared pitchers that we have. But if he feels like he has an opportunity to do something good for his teammates and for his team, it’s going to make him feel a little bit more confident on the mound. We always talk about confidence translating into athleticism. His delivery is an athletic delivery. He needs to be at his most athletic.”  

Realistically, every game is independent of a previous or future one. The loss preceding a Wood start shouldn’t affect his performance at all. In all likelihood, The Stopper is more correlation than causation.

The randomness theory bore out Sunday, when the veteran couldn’t stop a parked car.

Wood let up a run in each of his first two innings. He failed to record an out in the fourth inning, leaving John Brebbia with runners on the corners as the San Diego order turned over a third time. 

In all, Wood was charged with five earned runs on eight hits. He struck out four and walked two. He has yet to make it through a lineup three times in a game and saw his ERA burst from 3.93 to 4.82.

No Giants pitcher this weekend, including Wood, could retire Padres third baseman Manny Machado. The five-time All-Star entered the series as the National League leader in batting average and on-base percentage, then proceeded to go 4-for-4 with a career-high four extra base hits. 

Machado doubled on the first pitch he saw off Wood, took an intentional walk in the second, doubled off Brebbia in the fourth, tripled off Zack Littell in the fifth and doubled off Mauricio Llovera in the seventh. He alone had more hits than the Giants did against Padres starter MacKenzie Gore. 

Hardly anything went right for the Giants, not even in the field. There were errors, misplayed balls and mistimed dives. All the factors quickly coalesced to make it the Padres’ turn to run up the score on San Francisco. They’d been waiting to give SF a taste of its own medicine after the 13-2 beatdown on April 12. 

The Padres’ first sweep in Oracle Park since 2016 stamps a rough first three weeks of May for the Giants. At 8-11 on the month with series against the Mets, Reds and Phillies to go, the Giants are closer to the last-place Rockies than the Padres and Dodgers in the NL West. 

Just in May, the Giants have taken losses of 15-6, 11-5, 4-0 and now 10-1. Luis González has made not one but two pitching appearances (an effective one on Sunday, at that).  

San Francisco’s ugly May and 22-18 start overall has been marred by injuries and COVID issues. Those factors tend to even out over the course of a season, the club believes, but it has felt like the odds have been stacked against SF so far. With Brandon Belt, LaMonte Wade Jr., Anthony DeSclafani, Steven Duggar and Jake McGee sidelined, the ship may need even more time to re-route itself.

 

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