SAN FRANCISCO — By the time Josh Bell laced Logan Webb’s 109th and final pitch into right field for a tiebreaking single in the sixth inning, the Giants had already made three errors behind him and provided zero runs of support.
As the team looks toward 2023, with Webb as one of only a few sure things, Tuesday night provided more evidence that the Giants will need more pieces than a single homegrown ace if they are to compete with their NL West foes like the ones they’re hosting for three games this week.
And, yes, you might as well look ahead to next year, too, after the Giants dropped their second straight game of a series they absolutely had to sweep to remain in contention for the postseason. With a 4-3 loss to the Padres on Tuesday, San Francisco can no longer claim to be battling them for a wild card berth anymore than it is with Arizona for fourth place in the NL West.
After the San Francisco’s loss and Arizona’s win Tuesday, the Giants share the same record as the D-backs — 61-67, six games under .500, and a season-worst 9.5 back of the third and final wild card spot. They have lost six straight and 10 of their past 12, effectively tying a lead balloon to their postseason chances with 34 games left.
“Every game is a must-win for us now,” Webb said afterward. “It’s unfortunate we aren’t winning them. … I don’t think anybody in this room would tell you that they thought we’d be in this spot at this point. Maybe we got a little too complacent at some point.”
Down to their final out, Joc Pederson instilled some hope Tuesday with a moonshot, 387-foot home run that curled around the right-field foul pole and into McCovey Cove to pull the Giants within one, but Evan Longoria popped out to end the game.
After failing to complete five innings in either of his past two starts, Webb should have made it through six scoreless on Tuesday, if not for the Giants’ defense, which matched a season-high with four errors by the time it was over.
In a bounceback effort, Webb struck out seven and allowed five base runners (four hits, one walk) but was forced out after 5⅔ frames after multiple misplays extended innings and eventually led to the Padres’ first run.
Of Webb, Kapler said: “I thought he pitched well. He executed well, his slider was good (and) he threw a lot of strikes.”
Of the defense: “We have to be better. … We didn’t play our best defensive game, I think that’s clear.”
Manny Machado took second with two outs in the sixth when Yermín Mercedes couldn’t scoop a low throw from Brandon Crawford, then scored a batter later on Bell’s RBI single. The error was credited to Crawford — his second of the night (and 14th of the season, his most since 2019) after another errant throw allowed Trent Grisham to reach in the third.
The Giants’ defensive issues didn’t let up once Webb left the game.
A high throw from third baseman J.D. Davis pulled Mercedes off the bag in the seventh, putting Ha-Seong Kim on first base for the next batter, Grisham, and turned a solo shot into a two-run homer when he placed Tyler Rogers’ 3-2 offering in the left-field bleachers.
“Those aren’t easy plays to make,” Webb said. “It’s just not clicking right now. Every game seems like it’s something different. It’s frustrating for all of us in there because we all want to win more than anybody. It’s just not very fun right now.”
After his second error, Crawford crouched in the grass behind shortstop with a look on his face that might as well have said, “I wish Brandon Belt was over there.” And to their credit, the Giants didn’t field the Logan Webb-Go-It-Alone show by choice.
The same day he arrived from Triple-A Sacramento, Mercedes was tasked with playing first and serving as Austin Wynns’ backup catcher, with starting backstop Joey Bart placed on the concussion list before the game and Belt already on the injured list (and considering season-ending knee surgery).
Longoria led off the fourth with a single but was so hobbled by his right hamstring that before the game manager Gabe Kapler chuckled at the prospect of the 36-year-old moving even slower around the bases. He was unavailable to play the field, forcing Davis to the hot corner.
The matchup-dependent Giants started the game with one left-handed hitter in their outfield against Padres lefty Blake Snell, and by their second time through the order had two, after Austin Slater (dislocated pinky finger) was forced from the game and replaced by Mike Yastrzemski. The one righty? Utilityman Thairo Estrada, who typically stays in the infield but on Tuesday was roaming left field (in largely drama- and error-free fashion).
“That’s kind of the way the year’s going,” Webb said of the injuries. “At some point, you’ve got to just lock it back in, even without those guys. It sucks those guys aren’t out there, but it’s baseball. You play six months. There are going to be times when you don’t have some guys. The really good teams are the ones that make up for it.”
In the end, the Giants committed as many errors (four) as they recorded hits off Snell through six scoreless innings.
Wilmer Flores, who was on the field four hours before first pitch taking early batting practice, provided a third of the Giants’ eventual six hits with a pair of singles but Mercedes, batting in the No. 3 spot, followed each knock with an inning-ending out.
Yastrzemski and Wade, who this season are hitting .168 and .059 against left-handers, combined to strike out three times in four trips to the plate against Snell — a few of the 11 strikeouts by San Francisco batters.
“I don’t think it’s a secret, we’ve been struggling to score runs,” Kapler said of the Giants’ offense, which has averaged 2.3 runs per game over their six-game skid and has mustered more than three runs just three times in their past 13.
Despite all the preceding play, the 28,267 at Oracle Park Tuesday night were still pregnant with anticipation as Crawford stepped into the box as the potential tying run in the eighth inning.
San Diego’s own sloppy play allowed Joc Pederson to score the Giants’ only run, after he reached on a pinch-hit single and advanced to third when reliever Luis García airmailed a potential double play ball into center field. Estrada beat out an infield single to drive in Pederson and put runners on the corners for Crawford.
But Crawford went down swinging on three pitches, and Wynns grounded out to end the inning.