Giants lose to Reds again, waste chance to keep pace in West originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — Baseball players don’t like to talk much about checking the standings, even if it’s clear that they do. Updates are plastered on scoreboards during batting practice, prominently displayed in game notes and stories, and are not at all hard to find on the apps that are on the first pages of most players’ iPhones. At Oracle Park, there’s even a flagpole with an NL West hierarchy.
But Alex Cobb isn’t going to pretend he doesn’t know where the Giants sit. He smiled late Friday night and told a small group of reporters that if he ever was going to stretch the truth in front of cameras and microphones, it certainly wouldn’t be over something as trivial as whether or not he checks the NL West standings.
Cobb knows where the Giants are, and he also knows what’s ahead of them. They are chasing two of the best teams in baseball — the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres — and it’s hard to make up ground. This homestand is an opportunity, then, even if the Giants would never admit it.
In the Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox, the Giants play their next eight games against three teams under .500, with the Reds and Tigers on pace for 100 losses. The Giants even have two off days mixed in next week to make sure they’re fully fresh.
This is a great chance to make up ground … but on the first night back home the Giants played one of their most disheartening games of the year.
Cobb was knocked out in the fifth and had more bad defense played behind him. The lineup did just about nothing against rookie Graham Ashcraft, who sat in the upper 90s and kept the ball on the ground. The Giants lost 4-2, falling to 1-3 against a Reds team that just got swept by the Dodgers and had lost seven straight overall.
After temporarily righting the ship, the Giants have lost four of five this week to the Braves, the reigning World Series champs, and now the Reds.
“I don’t think it matters who the opponent is right now,” Cobb said. “We for the first time slipped out of the Wild Card spot the other day and we see that, and every win is going to be valuable from here on out. There are a lot of good teams that are on our tail and that we’re trying to now fight to climb over to get back into that (spot).
“Whatever name is on the front of the jersey doesn’t really matter, it’s just piling up wins right now. We know we have to take advantage of the teams that the caliber of ball isn’t where they want it to be. We’d like to take advantage of that but we just need wins.”
Because he was starting, Cobb had not had time to check on the other NL West contenders before speaking to reporters. But over in Atlanta, the Dodgers beat the Braves. Down in San Diego, the Padres beat a Philadelphia Phillies team that is also surging. As the midpoint of the season approaches, the Giants are 6 1/2 games behind the Dodgers and 5 1/2 back of the Padres.
Any loss to the Reds would be disappointing right now, but it didn’t help that the Giants had a lifeless effort against Ashcraft on their first night back home. Evan Longoria’s homer was the only scoring until the eighth, when they briefly rallied but were done in by a double play with two on and no outs.
On the other side, a catcher’s interference call and throwing error helped a run score, and a couple of balls dropped just out of Darin Ruf’s reach in left to add an insurance run.
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The Giants have played 10 consecutive games decided by two runs or fewer. They’re 4-6 during that stretch, with the mistakes piling up. It’s a far cry from the tight baseball that led to 107 wins last season.
“I think it’s fairly straightforward,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I think it’s just making one more play. We probably made that one more play last year. Getting one more hit. We probably got that one more hit last year. Making one more pitch. We probably did that more last year.
“That’s still in there. That talent level in those big moments haven’t gone away, they just haven’t shown up this year. We have to keep working to try to find those.”