Hjelle ends season on high note, but SF Giants still seeking .500 after loss to Padres

The Giants’ pursuit for 81 wins will last at least another day.

Despite an excellent outing from Sean Hjelle, San Francisco couldn’t crack one of its kryptonites this season in San Diego starter Joe Musgrove and was done in by a disastrous eighth inning in a 7-4 loss to the Padres Monday night at Petco Park.

The bottom of the eighth began a scoreless tie with Shelby Miller on the mound; when it was over, the Giants were trailing 7-0 and Jarlín García was pitching. Five of the runs were credited to Miller, the first he has given up since joining the Giants, and two to García. Wil Myers’ three-run homer to center off García proved to be the decisive shot, after the Giants rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth.

The Giants (80-80) must win one of their final two games to finish the season at .500.

Here are some takeaways.

Hjelle’s outing: In what was previously the best outing of his career, Sean Hjelle struck out Christian Yelich in front of friends and family in Milwaukee, prompting his childhood best friend to react afterward: “You struck out the MVP!”

On Monday, Hjelle topped his coming-out party in Milwaukee and added a possibly even more impressive MVP runner-up to his growing list of strikeout victims. Hjelle made Juan Soto one of eight strikeout victims over five shutout innings.

Entering in the second, after John Brebbia’s 10th scoreless opening inning of the year, Hjelle became the first Giants pitcher with eight strikeouts in relief since Drew Smyly in 2020.

He picked up his first major-league win in his last start and should have been in line for his second.

Twice in the past month Hjelle has tossed five innings while allowing one or fewer runs, a strong foundation to take into next spring, when he’ll be fighting for a job anywhere in the rotation or bullpen.

Tough going vs. Musgrove: The Giants cracked one primary nemesis last week, finally beating Arizona’s Merrill Kelly, but they couldn’t do the same Monday night against Joe Musgrove, who’s been even tougher this season.

Musgrove struck out seven of the first 10 Giants hitters he faced and didn’t allow a run over six innings.

In five starts against San Francisco, Musgrove has a 1.07 ERA, the lowest mark of any pitcher besides the Dodgers’ Julio Urías (0.90) who has made at least three starts against the Giants this year.

The Giants were hitless until a one-out single in the fifth from David Villar, who contributed another single in the seventh and accounted for two of the Giants’ three hits prior to the ninth.

Brandon Crawford drove in their two runs with a single to right field in the ninth, after the Giants loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batsman. And Joey Bart drove in two more with a single to left, after another hit batsmen re-loaded the bases.

Three Giants batters were hit in the ninth — two by Tim Hill and one by Hader — and two others drew walks.

A game that was scoreless after the seventh inning stretch finished with 11 combined runs. Despite trailing 7-0 entering the ninth, the Giants forced the Padres to call on closer Josh Hader. But the potential tying run, J.D. Davis, flew out to the warning track in right field for the final out.

Contributed by local news sources

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