Giants brought back down to earth after torturous series vs. Yankees

Giants brought back down to earth after torturous series vs. Yankees originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – After taking two of three games from the MLB-best Philadelphia Phillies at Oracle Park, the injury-riddled Giants were in perfect position to size themselves up against the New York Yankees for three games.

Instead, a ninth-inning implosion and another injury to their biggest offseason signing has the Giants hitting the road looking for answers to what just happened in a sweep that turned sideways from the start.

San Francisco’s three best starting pitchers – Jordan Hicks, Logan Webb and Blake Snell – toed the rubber in that order. Hicks and Webb were handed Ls, and Snell likely is headed to the 15-day injured list after dealing with yet another issue to his left adductor and groin area.

Snell was well on his way to completing his best, and longest, start as a Giant before being taken out in the middle of an at-bat during the top of the fifth inning. The same injury earlier this season made Snell miss more than a month of time and 25 total games. He’s slated to get an MRI Monday to know the severity of his injury.

The 2023 NL Cy Young winner said the injury felt the same as the last time he dealt with it, and he didn’t feel any other pain until a 97-mph fastball was his final pitch of the day.

“It’s frustrating,” Snell said. “I felt really good. Even in that situation I felt really good. … Overall I felt good, I felt confident. Stuff’s there, it’s all coming together. I was really confident about it, even the Soto homer. I just missed middle, but learned from it.

“So it’s definitely a bummer, frustrating. But you gotta look onto what’s next, attack that and get better and get back on the field.”

Snell struck out Anthony Volpe on five pitches to begin the game, but on the fifth pitch he threw to the next batter, Juan Soto, every fan donning orange and black had to be thinking, “Here we go again.”

Aaron Judge already had hit three homers in his first two games against his childhood team playing for the first time ever at Oracle Park. Giancarlo Stanto went yard Saturday night, and Soto joined the party Sunday – launching a 97-mph fastball up in the zone that went 430 feet to clear the brick wall in Triples Alley.

But Snell settled in after that. The Yankees only managed two hits over the next three innings off Snell while striking out three before the lefty ran into some trouble in the fifth. The Giants’ bats, led by 24-year-old Heliot Ramos and 25-year-old Casey Schmitt, woke up after seemingly taking two days off. Superstar power then showed up when the Giants attempted to close the door with their All-Star closer Camilo Doval.

Given a 5-3 lead in the ninth inning, Doval crumbled in front of a sellout crowd. By the time the flamethrower had recorded two outs, the Yankees already had scored four runs on four hits and two walks. Sunday marked the first time ever Doval gave up four hits in a single appearance.

“I think I would say there’s a first time for everything,” Doval said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “Today was not my day. I just got to accept it and move on.”

Soto, who is set to become a free agent this offseason and might as well have been given a blank check by Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi at his locker, annihilated a 98-mph cutter down the middle from Doval for his second home run of the day. The 25-year-old went 6-for-12 for the series with two homers, a triple and four RBI.

Judge, the 2022 AL MVP known for choosing the Yankees over the Giants and San Diego Padres two offseasons ago, followed Soto by walking on six pitches and proceeded to steal second base and advanced to third on a wild throw into the outfield by catcher Curt Casali. He had two hits in all three games, going 6-for-10 with three homers, six RBI, five runs scored, three walks and two stolen bases.

Stanton, who used his no-trade clause in 2017 to turn down a trade from the Miami Marlins to the Giants, then hammered a ground-rule double 112.6 mph off the bat for his 1,500th career hit to give the Yankees a 7-5 lead for good. The 2017 NL MVP played in two of three games against the Giants and left town 3-for-7 with a homer, ground-rule double and three RBI.

“Those are just some big time, big time ABs in a comeback scenario,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

The Giants right now are without Michael Conforto and LaMonte Wade Jr, among others. Jung Hoo Lee is out for the season because of a shoulder injury he sustained running into the center-field wall. Matt Chapman has come on strong as of late but currently has a career-low .709 OPS. Jorge Soler had his second three-hit game as a Giant but still only has six homers on the season and a .666 OPS. Snell is yet to throw five innings for San Francisco and his ERA actually improved to 9.51 after his short outing Sunday.

“It’s still tough because we aren’t looking at a full roster at this point,” Giants manager Bob Melvin said when asked to assess where his team stands in comparison to the rest of the league. “I think the one thing that we can take away is that some of the younger guys who have come up have done well, especially in big spots.”

There were a handful of positives the Giants could take with them Sunday onto the team plane. It’s hard to argue with Melvin’s breakdown at this point with all the obstacles they’ve faced. Let’s also face it: Watching the Yankees’ big boppers put on a power display where weather wasn’t once a factor gave a clear idea of where the Giants are now, and what the front office’s mindset has to be moving forward.

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