The conversation around the Giants for the last month has centered on whether or not they could secure an NL Wild Card spot while looking historically inept at the plate. After Wednesday's loss, it's time for another question: Will they even finish above .500?
The Giants dropped back to that mark with a 7-1 loss at Chase Field that put them 4 1/2 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks, who also clinched the tiebreaker advantage by winning the season series on Wednesday. The Giants are 3 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs, who hold the final postseason spot, and also would have to leapfrog the Miami Marlins and Cincinnati Reds.
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The deficit is bad enough, but the Giants also left the desert with the knowledge that the road ahead is even tougher. Seven of their final 10 games are against the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers and the other three are against the San Diego Padres, who all of a sudden are creeping up on the Giants in the NL West standings.
The Giants put themselves in this spot with a quiet August and even worse start to September, but they hoped that this series in Arizona could vault them back into contention. Instead, the Diamondbacks showed that they're better now and better positioned for the future, riding NL Rookie of the Year frontrunner Corbin Carroll to an easy win.
The Giants got a leadoff homer from LaMonte Wade Jr. and then settled into familiar second-half habits. They scored just the one run off Merrill Kelly, who was so dominant against them last year that coaches joked about drawing a lineup order out of a hat the next time they faced him. The Giants ended up rocking Kelly at Oracle Park earlier this season, but he gave up just three hits on Wednesday.
The third one was a leadoff double by Michael Conforto in the seventh, but he was stranded. Luis Matos flew out and Patrick Bailey grounded out, and after a careful walk of pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores, the Diamondbacks called on funky right-hander Ryan Thompson, who struck out Thairo Estrada on three pitches.
San Francisco Giants
Where's The Help?
Logan Webb gave up nine hits in six innings, but four of them were bloops that left the bat at less than 80 mph. In his biggest start of the year he pitched well enough to get a win, but it was a familiar story for the team's homegrown ace.
For the 21st time in 32 starts -- and the fifth time in the last six -- the Giants failed to score more than two runs behind Webb. He is far ahead of the rest of the pack in terms of lack of run support, which is a major reason why the Giants are in this position. Webb is 9-1 this season when receiving at least three runs of support, which isn't a high bar for the offense.
Wade lined the fifth pitch of the game just over the wall in right, giving the dugout an early jolt. The leadoff homer was the eighth of his career and his fifth this year alone.
After a disappointing 2022, Wade is on track to just about match his breakout 2021 campaign. He raised his OPS to .801, which is right in line with his .808 mark in his first season in orange and black. Wade needs two more homers to match his career-high of 2018.
What Could Have Been
Carroll had four hits, including a leadoff homer in the seventh, and stole two bases. He became the first rookie in MLB history to reach 25 homers and 50 stolen bases in a season, and he just about singlehandedly made the day miserable for Giants pitchers and Bailey.
The Diamondbacks have a superstar in their outfield and they've already locked him up for the rest of the decade. He's exactly the type of player the Giants are waiting for, so whatever you do, do not look up where Carroll was drafted in 2019.
You definitely do not want to look up the fact that the Giants drafted a left-handed-hitting outfielder six picks ahead of Carroll and then spent about $10 million to trade for the player who was taken exactly one pick before him, or the fact that the two Giants prospects are two of three players taken in the top 20 that year who have yet to reach the big leagues.