Scuffling SF Giants reach new low — .500 — after latest loss to Padres

SAN DIEGO — For the first time since the very early days of this season, when they were still glistening in the afterglow of 107 wins and an NL West title, the Giants are at .500.

The Giants have been playing bad baseball for more than two weeks, now, but had maintained a winning record on the strength a 14-7 month of April. They were one game below in May. Exactly even in June. But the first eight games of July have sucked out any remaining helium.

The culmination — or simply the latest low point — of this skid came Friday against the Padres, in a 6-3 loss, that dropped them to 41-41. It was their seventh loss in eight tries since the calendar turned to July. The last time they strung together two straight wins was also the high-water point of this season — going 10 games over .500 with a June 18 win at Pittsburgh — but ever since, they have gone 4-14.

“It seems like over the past, whatever it’s been, two or two-and-a-half weeks, it feels like we’ve been the worst team in baseball,” veteran third baseman Evan Longoria said before the game. “… It’s kind of been a bit of a train wreck.”

The lineup looked feeble against San Diego starter Blake Snell, who was once one of the best pitchers in the game but took a 5.13 ERA into this one. He struck out 11 Giants over six innings, and they whiffed three more times against the Padres bullpen.

With four hits Friday, the Giants have managed six over their first two games of this four-game set with the Padres, who moved 6.5 games ahead in the standings. The Dodgers? Forget about it. The deficit sits at 11.5 games.

The lack of star power populating the Giants lineup — Joc Pederson and his All-Star nod notwithstanding — was never more evident than these first two games with the Padres.

San Diego rode big blasts from Manny Machado — the $300 million man — to early leads in each game, with Machado’s three-run shot in the first inning Friday acting as the deciding blow before the Giants even recorded an out.

Besides Machado’s two homers, neither team has mustered much offense.

San Diego Padres' Manny Machado watches his three-run home run during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Friday, July 8, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
San Diego Padres’ Manny Machado watches his three-run home run during the first inning of the team’s baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Friday, July 8, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

For rookie David Villar, at least, Friday will be a night to remember. When seemingly ever other Giants hitter was stymied by Snell, Villar whacked a rare mistake from Snell into the left field seats for his first major-league home run.

Unfortunately for San Francisco, it came a batter too late.

Villar’s solo shot led off the fifth inning, coming right after Brandon Crawford struck out to leave the bases loaded in the fourth. The Giants only had three opportunities with runners in scoring position but came up empty in all of them.

San Francisco Giants' David Villar, right, is greeted by third base coach Mark Hallberg after hitting a home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, July 8, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
San Francisco Giants’ David Villar, right, is greeted by third base coach Mark Hallberg after hitting a home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, July 8, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Pinch-hitting in the ninth, when the game was already 6-1, Brandon Belt cut into the deficit with a two-run blast to right.

Defensively, the Giants debuted their least athletic outfield of the season when Pederson pinch-hit for Austin Slater in the eighth inning. Jake McGee was tasked with recording three outs — and he struggled, allowing two runs and four hits — with an outfield of Yermín Mercedes, LaMonte Wade Jr. and Pederson behind him.

Sam Long, getting the spot start on his 27th birthday, surrendered the home run to Machado after giving up hits to the first two batters of the game. It amounted to more runs (three) than Long had allowed in his past 20 innings (two).

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Sam Long works against a San Diego Padres batter during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, July 8, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Sam Long works against a San Diego Padres batter during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, July 8, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

That San Diego isn’t further ahead in the standings is only a product of its own recent struggles. Both clubs entered this series 2-8 in their past 10 games, but the matchup with the Giants has only acted as a slump buster for the Padres.

The Giants will have to win the last two games here to avoid their fifth straight loss in a series of at least three games. A defeat Saturday would send them below .500 for the first time since the third game of last season, when they were 1-2.

With Friday’s loss, they fell to .500 for the first time since the fourth game of this season, at 2-2.

Contributed by local news sources

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