On paper, we knew the Giants probably wouldn’t make the playoffs, and the Dodgers may run away with the division. But, shortly before tonight’s season opener in Dodger Stadium, the league announced that the playoffs have been expanded to 16 teams total, adding 3 teams to each league. Eight teams EACH from the AL and NL. This is great news for the Giants. But, they still have to be in the top 8 of 15 teams in the NL, a pinnacle they haven’t reached since 2016. But, it’s 60 games, so a little streak here or there, and they could sneak in.
Tonight, the news even got better as Clayton Kershaw was scratched from the start with back issues and placed on the IL. Dustin May was called up as his replacement. Everything started to look a bit more rosey for the Giants. After they had a minimal 1-0 lead (after squandering opportunities to score much more), the Dodgers finally broke through with a 2-out rally to tie the game off Cueto in the 4th. Overall, Cueto looked good until giving up two consecutive singles, a walk, and another single to tie the game.
With expanded rosters, and a young corp to try and battle these monoliths of baseball, Gabe Kapler has an extreme challenge, but he has some depth in numbers (as do all teams, of course). He quickly brought in Drew Smyly and Rico Garcia in the 5th and 6th to toss zeros. But, everything unraveled in the 7th when Tyler Rogers, who only gave up two earned runs in 17.2 innings last year was tagged for three earned runs in 2/3 of an inning. He was also the victim of questionable defense, including his own. With runners on the corners and one out, there was a comebacker to Rogers. He appeared to have enough time to start the 1-6-3 double play, but opted to go for the runner stranded off third. Unfortunately, instead of just running him back to third (the runner from first was able to make it all the way to third, like you’re supposed to), a long pickle ensued, which also allowed the hitter to get to second. So, yes, they got the second out of the inning, but now TWO runners were in scoring position instead of the end of the inning. Enrique Hernandez quickly doubled the Dodgers’ run total with a two out, two run knock to right to put the Dodgers up 4-1, and that was the end of it. They tacked on four more runs throughout the night, and the Giants didn’t put up much of a fight, offensively. But, the game was still tied going to the bottom of the 7th.
Joe McCarthy and Dany Jimenez made their (forgettable) MLB debuts tonight. Let’s be honest, the Giants roster is full of unknowns, castaways, rookies and retreads. Much like when the GM in “Major League” tried to fill the roster with such players to tank the season, but the team has been boxed in by over-inflated “thank you” contracts, bad trades, and a lack of draft depth. If they don’t make the playoffs in this “easy” year, it may be a few more until they crack the top.
There’s always tomorrow.