Luis Matos

Giants ride ups and downs of youth movement in latest loss to Dodgers

NBC Universal, Inc.

SAN FRANCISCO -- It surely was just a coincidence, but Luis Matos had quite the ironic choice of clothing after his first start back in the big leagues. As he spoke to reporters, Matos wore a sweatshirt from YoungLA, a brand headquartered in Los Angeles. 

On this night, it was the team from San Francisco that embraced the youth movement, which brought energy to a struggling team, but also a reminder that it can take young players years to be in a position where they can make winning plays on a consistent basis. 

The Giants got big nights from Matos and Heliot Ramos, both of whom figure to start in the outfield for at least the next week. They also were undone by a backbreaking mistake by rookie Tyler Fitzgerald.

With Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith and Max Muncy looming in extras, the Giants needed to win this game in the bottom of the ninth, after Camilo Doval -- pitching a day after a four-out appearance -- absolutely buzzed through three Dodgers hitters. Wilmer Flores did his job, drawing a leadoff walk, which allowed for Fitzgerald to enter as a pinch-runner. Within seconds, he was picked off. 

The Giants didn't score in the ninth. In the 10th, Smith blasted a Taylor Rogers sinker off the wall in center, giving the Dodgers a go-ahead double and eventually a 6-4 win

This night should have been about Matos and Ramos. Instead, the Giants lost for a fourth time in four games against the Dodgers this 2024 MLB season.

"We are making some mistakes still, and that's going to come with youth sometimes," manager Bob Melvin said. "You want them to be aggressive. Sometimes they're maybe a little too [aggressive]."

Melvin noted that Blake Treinen, who nabbed Fitzgerald, is slow to the plate. But ... 

"You can't get picked off there, he knows that," he said. "He just got a little too big a lead and he ended up getting him and I think obviously we'll talk about that a little bit later with him."

This is the pattern with young rosters. They bring energy and excitement, but there also are plenty of teaching moments, and day-after meetings. At some point Tuesday, the 26-year-old Fitzgerald will sit with Melvin or one of the coaches and go over that clip. But on Monday, there was nothing he could do but hope the Giants could prevail in the 10th. 

They had led early, with Matos hitting a three-run homer on his first pitch back in the big leagues. Ramos later added an RBI single, but both times, the Giants coughed up the lead.

These Dodgers are fully formed, and even if the Giants hit on every young player who is currently up or pushing to join this group, they'll never have a lineup as good as the one they faced Monday. Mookie Betts led off with a homer, just the second allowed this season by Jordan Hicks, who had another solid night. Ohtani and Freeman were quiet by their standards, and Muncy didn't add to his absurd home run total at Oracle Park. But in the middle of all of that sat Smith, an All-Star catcher who breaks up the string of powerful lefties for Dave Roberts

"It was their big boys at the end there. It's tough to navigate," Melvin said. "You've got some lefties, you've got Smith sitting in the middle of it, and he's the guy that got the big hit off our lefty. You do the best you can to manage it. We had a couple of other opportunities offensively, but it came down obviously to that last inning and it was one big swing."

Melvin said he liked the energy earlier in the game, and there's no doubt that this wave from Triple-A Sacramento has changed the vibe in the clubhouse. But it's too early in the season to be thinking about the future. The Giants hoped to win this year, and they probably need to win if they want to avoid another round of big offseason changes. 

But it's May 13, and they're still looking for their first three-game winning streak. They're the only team in the big leagues that can say that. 

"We just haven't played well enough in a lot of the facets of the game," Melvin said. "You still look at some of the numbers, they're not that good, offensively and on the pitching side and defensively we've made some mistakes, too. You have to do a couple of things really well to put together a win streak. I believe we will.

"Obviously there's a lot of youth right now and some different players than we envisioned being here right now, but it's part of the game and we're going to have to deal with it."

Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast

Contact Us