SAN FRANCISCO — The defining moment of Wednesday’s loss, No. 91 on the season, was not provided by a player, or by the manager, or by any of the coaches who have active field roles. It was bullpen catcher Eli Whiteside, with fire in his eyes, stalking up and down the dugout and yelling at a lifeless team. Even the best of lip readers would only pick up a few unprintable words and little else, but the overall message was clear.
“Right now he’s letting everybody know that this is unacceptable and this is not how the Giants play and this is not how this organization won three world championships,” Duane Kuiper said on the broadcast. “So let’s go.”
As Whiteside, a former Giant, continued to try and bring something out of the worst team in Major League Baseball, Kuiper added, “And by the way, you don’t want to fight him.”
Right now, the Giants look like they don’t want to fight anybody.
Wednesday’s result was familiar, but the loss was jarring nonetheless. The Giants are somehow hitting new lows, and a night after three misplays led to a loss, there were a handful of basic mistakes. Hunter Pence let a pop-up drop at his feet for a second straight night. That was followed by a Pablo Sandoval error and a dropped throw. Denard Span ran into a 1-6-5-4 double play in the first and Jarrett Parker was doubled off of first on a shallow fly ball to left in the seventh. Throw in some poor pitches and at-bats, too. It all added up to a 4-1 loss to the Dodgers, who came in with a 10-game losing streak and left feeling quite healthy. That’s what the 2017 Giants do for you.
“It is frustrating,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We need to clean it up and communicate better. It’s happened too often. These are things that shouldn’t happen on a Major League field.”
Bochy’s post-game response was muted, perhaps because he’s used to this at this point. All of the Giants seem to be, and that’s probably what had Whiteside so fired up. The Giants have the worst record in baseball and they might lose 100 games. That has been their reality for months, and they haven’t done anything to change their situation.
“It’s just not fun,” said Matt Moore, who gave up four runs in a short start. “Winning games is fun … winning cures everything and we haven’t done a whole lot of that this year.”
The Giants have 14 games left, and on Wednesday night, they looked very much like a team that is aching for the end to come. The dugout was still and the clubhouse even quieter. Bochy, sitting on the podium, talked of mistakes that need to be fixed for next year, but truthfully, these are mistakes that shouldn’t be made regardless of the date.
Pence’s play was the most glaring, if only because it was a doppelgänger of a similar play Tuesday night. The only difference was this time the ball dropped between Pence and Kelby Tomlinson, not Pence and Joe Panik. Pence said the mistakes were his, that he needs to “scream bloody murder” until an infielder backs off.
“I made the mistakes and I’ve got to make an adjustment,” he said.
It’s never a lack of effort with Pence, who beat out two infield singles and scored the lone Giants run. Bochy said it’s not a lack of effort team-wide, either. But something is missing.
“Regardless of what’s going on in the season,” Moore said, “We’ve got to be better than that.”