SAN FRANCISCO — On two of the warmest evenings in Oracle Park history, lightning struck not once, but twice.
A night after the Giants suffered their worst ninth-inning meltdown in 91 years, closer Trevor Gott gave up a pair of home runs including a three-run, go-ahead blast to A’s center fielder Mark Canha in a demoralizing 7-6 defeat.
“I think it’s very difficult to deal with the last couple of losses, it’s part of baseball but at the same time, I think it’s appropriate to feel the sting of them and acknowledge the sting of them,” Kapler said. “Beyond that, I believe we have better baseball in us.”
Gott was on the mound on Friday when the Giants blew a five-run ninth inning advantage, but manager Gabe Kapler remained loyal to his closer on Saturday when the club entered the top of the ninth with a 6-3 lead.
Kapler’s faith was immediately tested when A’s catcher Sean Murphy crushed the first pitch he saw from Gott over the center field fence, bringing Oakland within two runs.
For the second consecutive day, a jaw-dropping miscue from a veteran Giants fielder extended a horrific inning. After Wilmer Flores’ failure to get an out in the ninth inning on Friday led to Stephen Piscotty’s game-tying grand slam, it was right fielder Hunter Pence’s turn to make Gott’s life more diffcult.
Pence severely misjudged a routine flyball into the right center field gap, overrunning a ball that ultimately landed on the outfield grass for a double.
“He just didn’t get a good read on the ball,” Kapler said. “Misjudged it.”
After Gott walked A’s slugger Matt Olson, Kapler allowed his closer to stay in the game for one last hitter. Despite having left-hander Sam Selman warming in the bullpen, the Giants’ first-year manager wanted a right-on-right matchup with Gott and Canha.
On a night when rolling blackouts were expected to hit Northern California households, the Giants’ dugout blacked out for an entirely different reason when Canha’s go-ahead home run clanked off the left center field bleachers.
“It’s two tough losses and I didn’t pitch well in either one of them,” Gott said.
It was déjà vu, and the Giants were once again living a nightmare.
“It’s tough. It’s tough to lose two games like that,” Kapler said. “To be in games against a really good Oakland A’s team and to not have them come out the way you want in the end is certainly disappointing.”
Another devastating loss dropped the Giants to 8-14 on the season and will go down as another head-scratching, mind-blowing and most of all, heartbreaking collapse from a San Francisco team that’s come to be defined by these types of moments.
The ninth-inning meltdown spoiled what was supposed to be a much-needed come-from-behind win as the Giants clawed back from an early 2-0 deficit.
With former Giants reliever Burch Smith on the mound in the bottom of the seventh, left fielder Darin Ruf hit a tie-breaking three-run home run that looked as if it would lift the team to a late win that would even the 2020 Bay Bridge Series.
Instead another rough outing from Gott spoiled the Giants’ plans, contributing to another stunning loss.
“It happens quick,” Gott said. “I got into some deep counts, they looked like they almost knew what was coming but they put good swings on bad pitches. That’s what happens at the major league level.”
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Author: Kerry Crowley