Sports Giants just miss playoffs, losing on season's final day
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SAN FRANCISCO — From a false-positive coronavirus test for outfielder Alex Dickerson that postponed a pair of road games against the Padres to getting smoked out of Seattle by the West Coast wildfires — all in a six-day span — the San Francisco Giants stressed their resiliency in September.
The Giants just needed one more victory to make it all matter.
San Francisco went 29-31 under new manager Gabe Kapler, missing a playoff berth on the season's final day Sunday with a 5-4 loss to playoff-bound San Diego.
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“We did overcome a lot. I think we did a really nice job dealing with the ups and downs of the season, just the season that all the other clubs had to deal with but I think some extra difficult circumstances for our club,” Kapler said. “You want that to lead to wins. You want that to lead to the post-season. It stings that it didn’t.”
The Giants haven't reached the playoffs since losing a four-game division series in 2016 to the eventual World Series champion Cubs.
“There's definitely a lot of disappointed guys in there," third baseman Evan Longoria said.
San Francisco — World Series winners in 2010, ’12 and ’14 — will look back to costly losses in the final days, most notably Thursday’s 5-4, 11-inning defeat at home to the Rockies then 6-5 to the Padres in Game 2 of Friday’s doubleheader.
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“This was a group of guys with a lot of fight,” shortstop Brandon Crawford said. “We saw throughout the season how many times we were down late in the game and we just kept fighting and we'd find a way to win, end up on top. We had a lot of clutch at-bats late in games. ... It's just a group of guys that never quit.”
Sure, the Giants know they might have been the only ones who believed they would even be in the playoff chat down the stretch.
Especially after such a slow start.
“To come as far as we have puts a lot of faith in the players and me personally,” Longoria said.
Several players reiterated they believed they had a team with the talent to contend, in spite of the skeptics.
“I can tell you that we set out this season to play meaningful games until the end of the season and we did that, we played 60 meaningful games,” Kapler said. “We fought every single one of them and we battled back from deficits and to gut punches throughout the season but continued to fight every single day.”
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The Giants brought back Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence and neither finished the season with the club. Each was released and Pence announced his retirement Saturday.
In addition, right-hander Jeff Samardzija parted ways with the club Saturday after his release.
From Day 1, Kapler chose to put the Giants in the forefront of the movement regarding social justice. He opted not to stand for the national anthem and kept an open dialogue with the club about using a platform as athletes.
Kapler, fired by Philadelphia last fall after two disappointing seasons managing the Phillies, did things his way after taking over from the retired Bruce Bochy.
“I think there was an adjustment period for sure. I was expecting it to be different because Boch is definitely on one end of the spectrum and Gabe might be near the other end of the way that they approach the game from an analytics standpoint and just beliefs in general,” Longoria said. “It was not as different as I thought it was going to be.”
Missing star catcher Buster Posey for his presence on the field and as a leader was one more challenge for the Giants, who didn't have the same experience behind the plate. Posey opted out before the season began after adopting newborn, premature twin girls.
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Without Posey, rookie prospect Joey Bart gained key experience playing 33 games.
“He really needed Buster here, let's be honest,” Longoria said.
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Janie McCauley, The Associated Press
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