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Giants officially eliminated from playoffs with 8-4 loss to Arizona

© Robert Edwards | 2022 Oct 1

What has been inevitable for weeks is now official: the Giants are eliminated from postseason contention. 

A season that began with sky-high expectations following a franchise-record 107 victories will end with the team dispersing to their homes and watching the playoffs with their families. 

Players in the Giants’ clubhouse have been resigned to this outcome for weeks, ever since the club finished August with seven straight losses. SF opted against trading its best players at the deadline because the front office felt the team was “two hot weeks” from contending for a wild card spot. 

That hot streak came too late. 

Even when the lineup got healthier for a brief moment, the Giants’ defense still lagged. The offense lacked a consistent punch in the middle of the lineup, particularly with first baseman Brandon Belt compromised and then unavailable. A bullpen built around continuity seamed apart around Camilo Doval and John Brebbia. 

The Giants’ 8-4 Oct. 1 loss — their second defeat in the past 12 games — revealed those warts that have popped up all year. And although the Giants (79-79) never got caught up in the pipe dream of possibly sneaking into the playoffs with a miracle, that Dr. Strange-level possible outcome is now zero.  

Despite their struggles — April and September will be the Giants’ only winning months — the Giants weren’t mathematically ousted from the playoffs until Game 158. Both the Phillies and Brewers, teams whom San Francisco handled this year, have been competing in a water-treading game for the final wild card slot. 

MLB mistakenly posted a graphic earlier this week that said San Francisco had been eliminated from the postseason. The premature tweet’s underlying message was just a formality. 

Before the Giants won 10 of 11, they were 11 games out of a wild card. Heading into Saturday’s game, that deficit trimmed to five. Despite playing well to finish the year, San Francisco never controlled its own destiny. 

“What we’re doing is what we’re supposed to do,” starter Alex Cobb said after SF’s 10th in in 11 games Friday. “Winning ball games. That’s what I came for, that’s what this clubhouse is used to. Look at last year. I mean, as an organization, we’re not looking at things to build on. I think this is who we expected to be and we’re just not doing it, we didn’t do it consistently throughout the year.”

There was a clear hierarchy in the National League West all season, with the Giants in the middle tier. Against the division rival Dodgers and Padres, San Francisco went 9-26. 

The upstart D-Backs, with top-line starters and speed all over the diamond, have won half of their 18 matchups with San Francisco — including Saturday. 

In the first inning, shortstop Thairo Estrada became the first Giant since Hunter Pence in 2013 to record 20 stolen bases in a season. Two frames later, Estrada drove in San Francisco’s first run by beating out a double-play ball. Then he swiped his 21st bag. 

But SF’s one-run lead didn’t hold. Jakob Junis, who took over after opener Scott Alexander recorded four outs, ran into trouble in the fourth inning. A triple, walk, and two doubles gave the Diamondbacks a 3-1 edge. 

Junis’ slider wasn’t as effective as it is when he’s at his best, but he still made it through 4.2 innings. In the fifth, he made a tremendous play on a comebacker to get Jordan Luplow in a pickle between third and home, sprinting at him and eventually applying a diving tag.

J.D. Davis’ eighth home run as a Giant — a 107.9-mph missile to center — shaved Arizona’s lead to 3-2 in the sixth. Davis exited the batter’s box slowly and lightly dropped his bat as he admired his 436-foot no-doubter. 

In 21 fewer games, Davis has hit twice as many homers with the Giants as he did with the Mets. Darin Ruf, the outgoing player in the Davis trade, is on the 10-day IL for New York with zero post-deadline bombs. 

Davis’ homer was as close as the Giants would get, though. SF called upon Jarlin García in the seventh. Three singles, a walk and two doubles followed. With them went five Diamondbacks runs and San Francisco’s minute playoff chances. 

In the disaster of the inning, Joc Pederson couldn’t get under a fly ball that had a catch expectancy of 93%. As Austin Slater retrieved the ball by the warning track, Pederson laid flat on his stomach in the outfield grass. 

Pederson, an All-Star, has had one of his best seasons from the plate, but has given back just about all the value he produced with his glove. He expressed frustration this week for his first season out of the playoffs, but also told The Athletic “it is what it is” when asked about his conditioning. 

The seventh inning that ultimately — officially — sunk the Giants’ postseason hopes could have been a video montage of how San Francisco’s season went south: inconsistent relief pitching compounded by lackluster defense. 

The Giants have ranked either last or second to last in Fangraphs’ catch-all team defensive metric all season. The bullpen, aside from Doval and Brebbia, has been a revolving door. 

Those are the two areas the Giants’ front office need to address this offseason. There are still four games remaining in 2022, but it would be more than appropriate for the braintrust to turn to 2023.

 

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