SF Giants give Padres first extra-inning win of 2023, must sweep Dodgers to avoid losing record

After giving the Padres their first win in 13 extra-inning games this season, the Giants must sweep the Dodgers this weekend to avoid a below-.500 finish

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — For much of the season, the only thing separating the Giants and Padres, at least until they began moving in opposite directions this month, was their success, or lack thereof, in close games and extra innings.

Luck is a big factor in these games, and in Game 159, it was on the Padres’ side.

San Diego, which had gone winless in its first 12 extra-inning games of the season, was given a gift to begin the 10th inning, with the speedy Trent Grisham placed at second as the automatic runner. Grisham used his speed to advance to third on a ground ball to shortstop, then scored on a fly ball to Mike Yastrzemski in right field.

Manny Machado’s bloop fell in front of Austin Slater, scoring two more runs against John Brebbia, and that was the end of it. The Giants were defeated 5-2 in extra innings, falling to 11-5 overall, while San Diego improved to 1-12.

Two errors by rookies, a throw from Marco Luciano that sailed into the first-base dugout and one from Patrick Bailey that carried into center field, aided the insurance runs, bringing the Giants’ league-leading total to 117 for the season.

With Luciano on base, representing the winning run, Bailey and fellow rookie Tyler Fitzgerald struck out in the bottom of the ninth, bringing their season total to 1,468, a franchise record but only the sixth-most in MLB, second to the Rockies in the NL.

To avoid finishing the season with a losing record, the Giants must sweep the Dodgers this weekend. They will begin the season’s final series in fourth place, having been surpassed by the Padres, who won two of three this week.

Under Farhan Zaidi and Gabe Kapler, the Giants finished with a winning record once — 107 wins in 2021 — and now face a fourth-place finish in the NL West for the first time under the current regime.

Here are a few key points:

1) Big finish for Big Sean

Sean Manaea’s late-season surge will not lead the Giants to the playoffs, but it could result in a sizable payday this offseason.

Manaea’s night ended on a sour note, as he gave up a game-tying home run to Garrett Cooper, but it was his second consecutive quality start. He has yet to allow more than three runs in four starts since returning to the rotation.

Manaea used a different formula for his six-plus innings of two-run ball Wednesday evening after mostly pitching to contact during an efficient seven shutout innings last week at Dodger Stadium. He struck out eight Padres, matching his season high, while recording 19 swings and misses.

Manaea’s ERA has dropped to 3.44 in 29 appearances since being demoted to the bullpen, and 2.25 in four starts since returning to the rotation.

Consider a full season of these types of starts from Manaea, and where the Giants might be. Another team may be thinking the same thing if he declines his $12.5 million option for 2024 and re-enters the free agent market.

2) Distinctive opposition

Between Tyler Rogers’ submarine motion, his opposite-handed identical twin, and Ryan Walker’s crossfire motion, the Giants’ bullpen has garnered a lot of attention around the league. They are missing one thing: a knuckleball.

There is only one pitcher in the league who regularly throws the unusual pitch, and he started for the Padres on Wednesday night.

Kapler was teammates with Tim Wakefield, one of the game’s all-time knuckleball artists, but he learned how to hit the pitch from another former teammate, Hall of Fame second baseman Alan Trammell, who was nearing the end of his career when Kapler was coming up through the Tigers’ farm system.

“Try to take the ball out of the catcher’s glove,” Kapler advised. “Really, really allow the ball to travel so it’s made all its moves before you decide if you’re going to swing or not.”

Who knows if Thairo Estrada took that advice in his first at-bat, but he got a good swing on one of Matt Waldron’s knuckleballs in the second inning to put the Giants on the board. Estrada smacked a 2-1 pitch over the left-field wall after Waldron’s 2-1 pitch danced over the middle of the plate.

Estrada’s 14th homer of the season matched his total from 2022, and with a stolen base in the eighth inning, he became the first Giants player since Andres Torres in 2010 to do so. Joe Morgan was the last Giants infielder to finish a season with those numbers in 1982.

By the way, who on the Giants has the best knuckleball? According to those who have played catch with Patrick Bailey.

3) Tires

When Tyler Fitzgerald was called up by the Giants last week, he brought a unique set of skills with him.

That was most likely evident in his stat line on Wednesday night.

Fitzgerald reached base twice, including a bloop shot into right field to drive in the Giants’ second run, and used his speed to turn both trips to first into doubles. He stole second base both times, making him just the second Giants player this season to steal multiple bases in a game. Brett Wisely was the other, back in May.

The Giants now have 57 steals on the season, a dozen fewer than the next-closest team (Colorado) and fewer than two individual players (Ronald Acua Jr., Estuary Ruiz). Even their leading base stealer, Estrada, had never swiped two bases in a game and lacked Fitzgerald’s speed.

Fitzgerald was clocked at 29.5 feet per second on his first stolen base, putting him in line with elite speed. According to Statcast, the only other Giants to reach that speed this season have been Bryce Johnson (10 times), Wade Meckler (8), and A.J. Pollock (once).


— The Giants have yet to announce their pitching plans for this weekend’s series against the Dodgers, but Kapler stated that Logan Webb and Kyle Harrison should both make their final starts of the season. Harrison was scratched from his most recent start due to illness. Webb has thrown the most innings in the majors and is a contender for the National League Cy Young Award.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply