Giants waste huge opportunity with series loss to Padres originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN DIEGO -- Evan Longoria has played 15 seasons and nearly 1,900 games in the big leagues, more than enough to know that there are no must-win games in August. But he also has seen and experienced enough to know that there is a time to start making your move, and it doesn't always come in September.
When Longoria was activated on Monday afternoon, the Giants were just about fully healthy. Their injured list for this series did not include a single big league position player, allowing Gabe Kapler to mix and match with his starting lineups, play his preferred defenders and bring in his "line changes" in the late innings.
Longoria called being at full strength "a big deal." He pointed out that J.D. Davis has been a boost and that Joey Bart is finding his stride. The Giants buried themselves in the National League postseason race with an awful July and two four-game sweeps against the Dodgers, but they came to Petco Park holding onto a thin strand of hope.
"We can't wait any longer," Longoria said Monday. "As games start to dwindle, the losses start to become a lot bigger, and the wins for that matter, too. The pieces are there. We just have to keep our heads down and stay healthy."
The Giants left San Diego still mostly healthy. Bart sprained his ankle on Monday night, but there is optimism that he can play when a homestand kicks off Friday. But after dropping two of three, their playoff positioning is on life support.
A 13-7 loss at Petco Park meant a series loss to the team the Giants are most directly chasing. They left San Diego 7 1/2 games behind the Padres, who currently hold the third wild card spot and expect to get Fernando Tatis Jr. back next week. They are eight games behind the streaking Phillies, who have the second wild card spot. They are even 6 1/2 behind the Brewers, who are currently on the outside of the playoff picture but represent one more team the Giants would have to hurdle.
When strong pitching and a spectacular defensive play sparked a 1-0 win on Monday, it was easy to dream. But the Giants got walked off on Tuesday and played one of their most disheartening games Wednesday.
They took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the third but gave up six runs. The sixth was even uglier, with the Giants retaking the lead with three more runs and then giving up seven on seven consecutive hits, including two homers. The final 16 runs the Padres scored in the series were all scored right after the Giants had put up three-run rallies.
Wednesday's meltdowns were a sick twist on the kind of baseball they have played the last three months. Hanging breaking balls. Missed locations. A walk to the No. 9 hitter. Throwing errors, mental errors and balls that simply scooted past aging defenders.
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"We had opportunities to convert groundballs into outs and double plays that we weren't able to complete," Kapler said. "I don't know that I have to call out any one individual play or player. I think we can be better on D."
Kapler publicly has kept his optimism during this slide, which is now at 14 losses in 20 second-half games. But he knows the window is closing fast.
Longoria put it best before the disappointing series started. Every loss hurts a bit more in this situation, and the Giants just suffered two heartbreakers while watching three more days tick off the calendar.