Giants searching for solutions amid worst road losing streak in 37 years

Giants left searching for answers after seventh-straight loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

As the broadcast team signed off Wednesday afternoon, Dave Flemming made note of the remarkable fact that the Giants had just gone 0-7 on a road trip for the first time since 1985. “I was on that team,” Mike Krukow added quietly.

Krukow knows how that season ended, and it wasn’t pretty. Those Giants ended up losing 100 games and getting their manager fired. The current situation won’t spiral like that, but it is pretty dire given the timing.

The Giants are six days from the trade deadline and they just laid about the biggest egg imaginable. After losing four at Dodger Stadium, they got swept by the fourth-place Arizona Diamondbacks, who themselves are coming off a 100-loss season. The Giants got outscored 19-6, including 5-3 on Wednesday, a day they had their ace on the mound.

As Logan Webb began his postgame session with reporters in Arizona, he said three words, letting them hang in the air until the next question arrived.
“Losing is frustrating.”

There’s been a lot of it recently. The Giants aren’t just winless over their last seven, they’re 8-16 in the month overall. Since the end of April, they are 34-43. By some Rob Manfred-inspired miracle, they’re just three games out of the final — new — Wild Card spot in the National League. But they’re also just three ahead of the Diamondbacks and 3 1/2 ahead of the last-place Colorado Rockies.

Because of the All-Star break, it has been 10 days since the Giants went through a handshake line. They’ll now fly home and play four against the rebuilding Chicago Cubs, hoping to find some momentum and convince the front office to maybe add, and definitely not to sell. Manager Gabe Kapler knows exactly what he wants to see when the Giants take the field at Oracle Park on Thursday.

“We just need to come out with a little bit more fire right now,” he told reporters in Phoenix. “We’re doing everything we need to do pregame. All the preparation is sound. We need to continue that and I think we need to just come out with a ton of fire. That’s the best thing I can share right now.”

That’s a solution that might not be easy for a team built around older, even-keel players who take pride in riding the highs and lows of a season. Webb offered another option, noting that the Giants simply need to improve at the little things. In the inning that led to a win, the Diamondbacks took the lead on a bunt single, an oppo single that beat the shift, and a squeeze bunt that led to Brandon Belt’s misplay.

“That was a (bleeping) awesome inning by them,” Webb said, ticking off the plays. “Maybe get to doing some stuff like that. It’s just frustrating. There’s no other way to put it. They did all the little things right, they made the right plays, the right hits, playing in all the right spots.”

That rally is not one that can be easily repeated by the Giants. They might be the slowest, least athletic team in the National League right now, but a lot of the little things can improve. The defense is obvious, and some of Wednesday’s contributions — a run on an 0-2 single, another when Thairo Estrada forced an error by stealing second — were small steps in the right direction.

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But overall, the day was another failure.

The problem with the mental and physical mistakes is that they lead to a spiraling effect, with pitch counts rising for the starters, the strength of the team right now. That leads to more work for the bullpen, which has struggled. Those big innings put extra pressure on a lineup that’s falling behind all too often. The spiral exists in a macro sense, too.

The more you lose, the more pressure you feel to be perfect to get back on the right track. That can lead to additional mistakes, which is some of what Kapler felt he saw over three days in Arizona.

“I think guys are pressing a little bit,” he said. “They’re wanting to do too much. Sometimes that creates a little tightness in the game, and I think that’s what’s happening right now.”

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