Giants’ skid continues against wild-card leading Phillies as SF falls into bottom playoff position

Giants could have picked up a game on the team directly in front of them in the standings but instead dropped 3 back with 11th loss in past 15 games

PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies’ most dangerous lineup is loaded with lefties. Harper, Bryce. Kyle Schwarber is a baseball player. Mr. Bryson Stott.

It’s one of the reasons the Giants chose Tuesday as the best day for Kyle Harrison, the game’s top left-handed pitching prospect, to make his debut. And it explains why manager Gabe Kapler wanted to start their three-game set with as many southpaws as possible on Monday.

They weren’t around for long. It turns out that the Phillies can also hit lefties.

Scott Alexander started and didn’t make it out of the first inning before giving way to Sean Manaea, and by the time Edmundo Sosa tripled to deep center field in the fourth inning, ending Manaea’s night, the Giants were in a hole they couldn’t get out of in a 10-4 loss.

Best wishes, Kyle.

The Giants (65-60) looked outmatched and outplayed in the first of three games against the team directly ahead of them in the wild-card standings, and instead of making up meaningful ground in the race, they continued their slide. Dropping to 4-11 in their last 15 games, their playoff position is as precarious as ever, three games behind Philadelphia (68-57) and a half-game behind the Cubs (65-59), with three more teams chasing them, only a game back, for the third and final playoff spot.

“Every (game) is really important, and this one was, too,” Kapler said afterward. “Tomorrow’s game is also crucial. … I don’t want to dwell on one, especially one that did not go well. I don’t think there was much to reflect on, other than the fact that we probably won’t do it the same way again in the next couple of games.”

Manaea, who hadn’t allowed a home run since May 17, allowed two while being hit for three runs in 223 innings, while Alexander — and only the beginning of a defensive night that resembled the worst of last season — allowed one run on three hits, aided by the first of three errors.

Manaea hasn’t thrown his changeup since the end of July, relying solely on his four-seamer and sweeper, but while Kapler suggested that he doesn’t “have a great feel for his changeup right now,” Manaea said, “I feel good with it.” I’ve got it. We simply did not call it.”

The Phillies only started to pile on against righty Sean Hjelle, who allowed six runs — all with two outs — on ten hits in 423 innings of relief work.

The Giants started just as hot against Phillies ace Aaron Nola, but it didn’t take long for their inept offense to rear its head again.

Joc Pederson hit Nola’s ninth pitch half a dozen rows into the right field seats for his first home run in nearly three weeks, and LaMonte Wade Jr. tanked a third-inning fastball 428 feet into the greenery beyond the centerfield wall, but that was it for a team that has yet to find a way out of its slump that began in mid-June.

With Nola “inching toward 30 pitches there in the first inning, we weren’t able to deliver that final, good punch that would give us a good cushion,” Kapler explained. “Then he came back and was incredibly efficient, and we didn’t have a chance to put anything together after that until we got to the end, and at that point it was too late.”

After Pederson’s home run, the Giants loaded the bases with one out, but Johan Camargo bounced a meager ground ball back to Nola, who began a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning, the second time in three games that the recently signed shortstop has been doubled up with the bases juiced.

After Wade’s third-inning home run, the Giants went 3 for 18 with six strikeouts until Philadelphia’s relievers forgot how to throw a strike in the ninth, allowing them to cut an eight-run lead to six. Two of those runners were erased when Pederson was thrown out on a questionable attempt to stretch a single into a double and when Flores bounced into a double play after he walked in his next plate appearance.

Even though the defense struggled overall — Blake Sabol let a routine line drive fly over his head in left field, setting up Kyle Schwarber’s 444-foot home run; Wilmer Flores airmailed a throw to first base; and Patrick Bailey had a passed ball — rookie Wade Meckler stood out.

Meckler, whom Kapler defended before the game in an unprompted remark, struck out for the 12th and 13th times in his first seven games (59% of his plate appearances). Kapler attributed the 2022 draftee’s early struggles at the plate to “nerves,” rather than being outmatched by big-league pitching after only a year out of Oregon State.

“It’s pretty obvious that he’s battling right now,” Kapler said of Meckler before summoning him to his office for a lengthy conversation that was still going on when reporters left the clubhouse. “He’s fighting in every way. Obviously, it’s not good enough, and it’s not helping us win baseball games, but this is when a coaching staff rallies behind a young player.”

Meckler’s struggles at the plate carried over to center field, where he bobbled the ball three times, resulting in a pair of runs. Trea Turner doubled in the first inning after Meckler misplayed an easy hopper. He was not charged with an error in the fifth inning, when Harper rounded the bases on a deep drive off the wall in left-center field and scored an inside-the-park home run, the second in a week for San Francisco.

Meckler misjudged the angle of the wall, sending him on a chase down the warning track, and when he finally got the ball, he dropped it not once, but twice, allowing Harper to race around third and slide into home, striking a pose as he popped up shrugging his arms.

“I assumed it was a ball that I could catch.” “I thought I had a play on it, and by the time I realized I didn’t, it was off the wall,” Meckler explained. “I’m not overly concerned. Obviously, I need to make a change.”

Despite the fact that Meckler had only 92 minor-league games under his belt when he was called up last week, Kapler said he has no regrets about rushing him to the majors.

“I think it was a little bit out of necessity; we needed some help at the major-league level,” Kapler explained. “He had a great deal of success in the minor leagues.” So far, things haven’t gone well for him, but this is only chapter half. I have a long story to write, so I wouldn’t say it’s moving too quickly right now. There may come a time when we analyze it like that, but I don’t think it will be after 10 games.”

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