What we learned as Giants lose in extras after Dodgers' late rally

What we learned as Giants lose in extras after Dodgers' late rally originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area


SAN FRANCISCO -- There's never a good time to lose half your position players to injuries, but the stunning week the Giants just had was particularly poorly-timed. Against a Los Angeles Dodgers team that's heavily favored to run away with the division, the Giants took the field without their leadoff hitter, cleanup hitter, Gold Glove-caliber catcher, Gold Glove-winning shortstop and starting left fielder Monday night.

The bottom of the lineup was made up entirely of players who have been Sacramento River Cats for most of the season, but for nine innings the Giants kept pace. In extras, the Dodgers finally pulled away.

Will Smith's two-run double in the top of the 10th was the difference and gave the Dodgers a 6-4 win, their fourth in four games between the NL West rivals this season. The loss meant the Giants still do not have a three-game winning streak this season.

The Dodgers swept the series when the two teams met at the start of the 2024 mlb season, and Mookie Betts got them off to a fast start Monday, leading off the game with a solo homer. An inning later, the Giants jumped on top with one big swing from a young player who might become the everyday center fielder as Jung Hoo Lee recovers from a dislocated shoulder.

Before the game, manager Bob Melvin said Luis Matos will "get a good shot out there" while Lee is out. In the second inning, Matos came up with two on and jumped on a hanging curveball from Yoshinobu Yamamoto, picking up his first hit and homer of the season.

The Dodgers got a run back on Shohei Ohtani's infield single in the fifth and tied it up in the sixth when Gavin Lux smoked a double to the track in center. After Heliot Ramos put the Giants back on top with an RBI single, Kiké Hernandez knotted it up with a pinch-hit blast just inside the left field foul pole.

The score remained that way until the 10th, which actually got off to a good start when Taylor Rogers struck out Ohtani. But after a walk, Rogers grooved a sinker to Smith, who hit a 105 mph liner off the base of the wall in center.

The Giants had two on for Thairo Estrada in the bottom of the inning, but he hit into a game-ending double play.

Welcome to the Rivalry

Jordan Hicks has made nine starts for the Giants and still has yet to allow more than three earned runs. Even the vaunted Dodgers lineup couldn't dent his shiny ERA, as he was charged with two earned in five innings. Hicks scattered seven hits, walked none and struck out four.

This simply has become the norm for Hicks, who has allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his nine starts. He has a 2.44 ERA, which ranks sixth in the National League.

Hicks allowed at least one runner to reach in each of his five innings, but he repeatedly got grounders when he needed them and he was given some help by one of the game's best defensive right fielders. With a runner on second and one out in the fifth, Mike Yastrzemski robbed Betts of an RBI double. Given that Ohtani and Freddie Freeman were due up, the catch might have kept Hicks from giving up the lead in his final inning.

Welcome to the Rivalry, Part II

Like Hicks, Yamamoto was an offseason target for Farhan Zaidi and the front office. He was at the top of their wish list, 1A to Ohtani, but they'll now have to face him for possibly the next dozen seasons.

Pitching against the Giants for the first time, Yamamoto was charged with four earned in 5 2/3 innings. He had not allowed more than three earned runs since his rough Dodgers debut in South Korea back in March.

Yamamoto threw his curveball 11 times in the first three innings and got 10 strikes. He flipped a particularly gorgeous one to LaMonte Wade Jr., who looked back in disbelief as it was -- correctly -- called a strike at the top of the zone. But when Yamamoto tried to go back to that location to Matos, the young outfielder was ready.

In his first start of the year, Matos jumped on the first pitch from Yamamoto and crushed a hanging curveball deep into the seats in left.

Miller Time?

The box score says it was a disappointing night for lefty Erik Miller, but the rookie certainly showed that he's capable of going up against the best in the world. Miller gave up the tying homer, but it was on a changeup that was several inches off the plate inside, so he almost just had to tip his cap to Hernandez for getting to it.

Miller bounced back with strikeouts of Betts and Ohtani, the latter of whom went down swinging on a nasty slider. Freddie Freeman flew out to left to end the inning.

The Giants desperately need another reliever or two to enter Melvin's late-inning circle of trust. Luke Jackson and Sean Hjelle have shown flashes recently, and Miller has the raw stuff to become a weapon. He topped out at 98 mph in his inning of work.

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