Blake Snell

Snell's latest rough start keeps Giants from building on momentum

NBC Universal, Inc.

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Giants wrote one big check after another in the offseason, they acknowledged that they had not done enough to compete for attention in a market that includes a wildly popular Golden State Warriors team and a perennial Super Bowl contender in the NFL. The hope was that an impressive winter could help them compete for eyeballs and dollars in the Bay Area. 

This has been a disappointing week for Northern California sports fans, but the Giants could not have asked for a better runway. The Warriors' season ended on Tuesday, and the Sacramento Kings were eliminated while the Giants hosted the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night. The San Francisco 49ers won't play again for months, the San Jose Sharks are in the running for the top pick in their draft, and the Oakland Athletics have done just about everything imaginable to alienate local fans. 

A good start could have given the Giants more momentum than they've had in years. Instead, they have played mediocre baseball, and they have been massively disappointing in their most interesting games.

Blake Snell was supposed to be the star of an expensive offseason class, but the Giants have been outscored 25-2 in his two starts at Oracle Park. With a rowdy crowd of 33,000 on hand Friday, they got blown out 17-1, losing so soundly that utility man Tyler Fitzgerald had to take the mound for a second time through 21 games. 

The 17 runs were the most by an opponent at Oracle Park since 2019, when the Diamondbacks scored 19. The loss was the most lopsided at home in 10 years. The Diamondbacks tied their franchise record with 22 hits, and they scored at least four runs off each of the first three Giants to take the mound. 

This is no way to convince fans to return in waves, but thus far, the Giants have been patient with their struggling regulars. The front office hasn't made a roster move in two weeks, although they likely will add a fresh arm for Saturday's game. Manager Bob Melvin has stuck to the same lineup mix daily, and he said he saw positives in Snell's outing, which started with three quick innings before going off the rails. 

Snell said repeatedly that the issue was "sequencing." He believes his stuff is crisp enough, and he said he didn't deal with any fatigue. 

"They were ambushing," he said of the Diamondbacks. "Guys that are usually patient were swinging early, which I thought they would. It went how I thought it would go. I've just got to execute and have better sequences and I'll have way better results."

Through three starts, Snell has given up 15 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings. He allowed nine hits and struck out three on Friday, an uncharacteristic line for a pitcher who generally can point to command when he has an off night. Snell became the first reigning NL Cy Young Award winner to fall to 0-3 since Doug Drabek of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1991, but he said he's not concerned. 

"Results don't bother me," he said. "I'll get angry, yeah, but when I really look at it, am I making mistakes, how is my sequencing, what am I doing to get me in those situations -- when I figure that out, I'll start attacking differently and then the results will change. Or they won't and they'll stay this way. But I'll find ways to get better and be the best me, so I don't get too worried about the three games that I've had."

The Giants have a long way to go, and Snell does, too. He is less than a month into what might be his only season with the Giants, but they haven't been close in any of his three starts. As Jordan Montgomery dominated on the other side, it was easy to wonder if the Giants might have some regrets, not about adding the Cy Young winner, but about what they did after the ink dried. 

Montgomery also was a Scott Boras client who signed late in March, but he went to Triple-A to knock the rust off. The Giants had Snell on their Opening Day roster, going a player short until he was able to debut on April 8. Snell faced the team's Double-A hitters and pitched a simulated game against some of his teammates to try and get up to speed. 

"It was definitely an option, but I don't think I needed it," Snell said of Triple-A. "I still don't think I need it. I've just got to get better with sequencing. The stuff is there, so it's all sequencing and pitching like I know I can. Once I start doing that, then the what-ifs and all that will fade. 

"Everything is getting better. The more I get in the zone, the more I have better sequencing and understanding hitters, then the outcomes will be better. In a month, two months from now, we'll be talking about other things."

Melvin said the Giants did briefly discuss letting Snell get his pitch count up in the minors, but they were hopeful that he could be a part of the mix as early as the seventh game of the season, a night game at Dodger Stadium. That would have been must-watch TV, at least on paper, although perhaps it's for the best that it didn't work out that way. 

So far, the Giants have done very little to take advantage on nights when they're in the spotlight.

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