The Giants owned the third-best record in the National League, as many as 13 games above .500, when their summer malaise set in. It quickly cost them that claim, sinking them fourth, then fifth and then sixth. Soon, out of the playoff picture altogether. Now extending into fall, suffering their sixth loss Wednesday in six tries since the calendar turned to September, it has robbed them of even the minimalist requirement for success, winning more times than they lose.
Routed by the Cubs 8-2, swept in the three-game series and dropping all but one of the seven games on this pivotal road trip, the Giants sank back to .500 — 70 wins, 70 losses, few runs — for the first time since June 10. Entering this series with a chance to pull even for the second wild card, they return home closer in the standings to the Padres than the Cubs, three games out of playoff position and trailing three other teams for the final spot.
They were spurned in free agency by Seiya Suzuki two winters ago and destroyed by him in the first week of September. The Japanese outfielder, whom the Giants aggressively pursued but opted for the Cubs’ five-year, $85 million offer, finished the series with eight hits in 12 at-bats with two home runs. He provided them the only run they needed Monday night with his first, tied the game in the seventh inning Tuesday with his second and cleared the bases with a three-run double in the first inning against Alex Wood on Wednesday that gave the Cubs an early lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Wood, given his first start since July 21, was tagged for five runs on five hits over 2⅓ innings, while his counterpart, a 24-year-old lefty making his third career start, Jordan Wicks, had no trouble mowing down the Giants’ lineup, which fell back into its two-month hibernation after briefly awakening for an eight-run outburst Tuesday (and still managed to lose, only the second time in 78 games under Gabe Kapler when scoring that many runs).
Unlike their loss Monday night, the Giants did get some runners into scoring position. But one, Paul DeJong, ran himself into an out at home plate, breaking on contact on Austin Slater’s line drive right off Wicks’ leg. He picked the ball up, hurried it home and easily got DeJong.
DeJong, J.D. Davis and Mitch Haniger all doubled and reached second with less than two outs, but the Giants weren’t able to bring any of them home. They finally made good on a two-bagger, their fourth of the day, when Casey Schmitt drove home Luis Matos from first and scored on a sac fly from Joey Bart.
DeJong, in a two-hit performance, gave them their one and only hit with a runner in scoring position, advancing Schmitt, who also finished with a pair of hits, to third with a single. They went 1-for-8 on Wednesday and finished the seven-game road trip batting .175 (7-for-40) with runners in scoring position, somehow worse than their .200 (85-for-424) mark since the start of July, which was already the lowest in the majors.
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Something has to change — fast — if they going to stop their free fall in the playoff race.
Their postseason odds, according to FanGraphs, have fallen from a season-high 80.4% on Aug. 4 to 28% entering Wednesday, their lowest point since April 22. It’s more or less a four-team race for one spot, with the Marlins’ chances pegged at 32.3%, the Reds at 28.9% and the D-backs at 26.4%.
At first glance, the upcoming schedule would appear to provide an opportunity to bank some wins. On Friday, they begin a 10-game stretch with seven against the Rockies (51-87) and three against the Guardians (66-73). But look at their record since Aug. 5, and the Giants (9-21) have been only one game better than the Rockies (8-21), the fourth-worst record in the majors.