What we learned as Soto's ninth-inning homer dooms Giants


What we learned as Soto’s ninth-inning homer dooms Giants originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants on Sunday gave a sellout home crowd a masterclass of disaster at Oracle Park with a 7-5 loss in a sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees.

Giants closer Camilo Doval imploded in the ninth inning, entering with a two-run lead but leaving allowing four earned runs to score and recording only two outs. Doval gave up four hits — a single, double, triple and game-tying homer — and walked two, but the biggest story of the day was who walked down the stairs and right into the clubhouse during the top of the fifth inning.

Blake Snell was on track to complete his best start of the season for the Giants before manager Bob Melvin and trainer Dave Groeschner came to check on him in the middle of an at-bat in the top of the fifth inning. It was later announced that Snell left the game with left groin tightness.

The same issue forced Snell to miss 25 games earlier this season.

After totaling 12 hits and being outscored 13-5 through two games against baseball’s current best team, the Giants’ offense came through by tallying 11 hits from multiple contributors. Jorge Soler enjoyed his second three-hit game as a Giant and only two starters were without a hit. That still wasn’t enough against the power of the Yankees.

San Francisco now is 19-2 this season when scoring five or more runs. The Giants’ only other loss when doing so came on May 21, falling 7-6 to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 10 innings.

Here are three takeaways from one ugly Giants loss ahead of a six-game road trip.

Brutal Timing

June was when Snell really turned it around last season on his way to an NL Cy Young campaign for the San Diego Padres. Snell had a 0.87 ERA for the month a year ago, and following one mistake in the first inning Sunday, the lefty looked like he was on his way to his best start in a Giants jersey. Until the injury bug seemingly bit him yet again.

Snell exited in the top of the fifth inning with the bases loaded, two outs and a 1-1 count on Alex Verdugo. He missed over a month earlier this season due to a left groin issue, and appeared to aggravate the injury on his 99th pitch of the day.

At the time of his early exit, Snell had given up one run in 4 2/3 innings while walking three and striking out seven. But his bullpen replacement, Erik Miller, immediately gave up a two-run double to Verdugo, scoring both of Snell’s runners on base. His ERA now is down to 9.50, and Snell is yet to get through five innings in a Giants jersey.

The Kids Are All Right

The Yankees and star power go hand in hand. Always have and always will. On the other side, it was the youngsters who got the job done for the Giants.

For how frustrating Snell’s apparent injury was, the Giants’ youth movement made their presence felt against the Bronx Bombers.

Casey Schmitt started it off in the second inning by plating Jorge Soler on a single to center field that just escaped shortstop Anthony Volpe’s diving attempt to tie the game at one run apiece. Heliot Ramos then led off the next inning by giving the Giants a 2-1 lead behind a 405-foot shot to straightaway center field.

One inning later, it was time for the Schmitt Show to continue.

Ramos (2-for-5) and Schmitt (2-for-4) combined to go 4-for-9 and drove in all five of the Giants’ runs. Rookies Luis Matos, Brett Wisely and Tyler Fitzgerald all had one hit each, too.

Blank Check

Shohei Ohtani’s 446-foot home run over the right-field brick wall, nearly landing in the water three weeks ago, was only the start. Aaron Judge blasting 1,284 feet on homers through his first 10 innings in San Francisco poured salt on a wound that refuses to close. Soto in the first inning Sunday added insult to injury.

Soto sent a 430-foot missile off a 97-mph fastball into an area Barry Bonds and few others have ever ventured.

The ninth inning was then a Statue of Liberty-sized exclamation mark from Soto. Giants closer Camilo Doval hurled a 98-mph cutter right down the middle, two pitches after Volpe smoked a 100-mph cutter into right-center field for a triple. Bad idea. Soto turned on Doval’s heat and sent another long ball over the right-field wall, this time 398 feet to tie the game.

The Giants had one of the busiest offseasons in baseball, bringing in multiple big-name additions. Their long history of coming up short on superstars also is well known by now. At some point, they’re going to have to hand over silly money to make sure a superstar is wearing their colors as opposed to Dodger blue, Yankees pinstripes, or anything else.

Perhaps Soto is the answer. The 25-year-old has said he’s open for business heading into free agency after the season. Soto finished the three-game series going 6-for-12 with four RBI. $400 million? $500 million? Farhan Zaidi has to be ready to pony up if he has any dreams of making Soto a Giant.


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