Giants Analysis

Giants enter tough stretch after missed opportunity in Oakland

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OAKLAND -- Giants manager Gabe Kapler goes out of his way to publicly treat every series the same, often disappointing reporters from local news stations or opposing teams who are hoping for a juicy sound bite about how big a certain Dodgers or Padres series might be. Kapler would never say his team "should" beat another team, but on Sunday, he didn't have to.

The disappointment hung in the air in the visiting clubhouse at the Coliseum, and it was clear in Kapler's words. 

"Not a good baseball game. Not a clean baseball game," Kapler said. "We're better than that as a group."

The Giants lost that baseball game 8-6, wasting one of their best offensive performances of the last couple of months and dropping a second straight to an A's team that came into the weekend with a 30-80 record. Even in down years -- and this one is as bad as anyone around here can remember, on and off the field -- the A's tend to play the Giants tough, but they're so young and inexperienced that they couldn't help but try and give Sunday's game away.

In a three-inning span in the late innings, the A's had two runners picked off at first by Giants pitchers, ending potential rallies. The second one came with a runner on third, which made it all the more baffling. During that stretch, the A's also had three fielders converge on a high pop-up and watch it fall. Their pitchers walked seven and gave the Giants 16 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

And yet, a young team kept coming and coming, wiping out deficits and stunning Alex Cobb, who finally had gotten over a stomach bug but looked like he wanted to vomit as he watched the lead disappear in the bottom of the sixth. The A's scored three runs that inning and never looked back. 

"I couldn't believe that I had that opportunity in front of me today and the team seemingly gave me everything I needed early, and I just couldn't," Cobb said. "I thought I made a good adjustment in the third and I was hoping to get on a little run there. I knew my pitch count was in a good place to be able to work deep. I thought I made the right adjustments and I just couldn't string it together. 

"I felt in that moment that I let the team down. I had a really good opportunity to flush what happened early and they gave me a new chance. I wasn't able to capitalize."

Cobb was charged with five earned runs, and Luke Jackson had two runs go on his line, one of which was unearned because of a Brandon Crawford throwing error. Jackson struggled with his command throughout the sixth, but Kapler stuck with him and he walked a run in before allowing a two-run, go-ahead single. 

"I think we can play a better all-around game today. I think we could do a better job on defense and executing our plays," Kapler said. "I don't think that's any secret."

That's been a theme against the league's worst. The Giants are 12-10 in the second half, but five of those losses are to the A's and Washington Nationals, two of the worst teams in baseball. They have seemed to play up or down to their competition, and while they're still in a playoff position, they know their hold on that spot could be much stronger.

This was the soft spot on the schedule in August and the Giants wasted an opportunity to bank a couple of wins, or at least one. Their offense has failed them often in recent weeks, and that was the case on Saturday. On Sunday, Cobb couldn't take advantage of six runs being scored behind him in the first five innings. He called it an "extremely frustrating series."

"To get where you want to be you have to beat the teams you're supposed to beat, and then you're supposed to play really good baseball against good teams," he said. "It seems like this year we're playing really good baseball against good teams but letting two games go like that, hopefully it's not going to cost us at the end of the year. It definitely has the potential to."

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