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SF Giants outmatched, outplayed in blowout loss to wild card-leading Phillies

SF Giants outmatched, outplayed in blowout loss to wild card-leading Phillies

PHILADELPHIA — The most dangerous portion of the Phillies’ lineup is loaded with lefties. Bryce Harper. Kyle Schwarber. Bryson Stott.

It’s one reason why the Giants identified Tuesday as the ideal time for Kyle Harrison, the top left-handed pitching prospect in the game, to make his debut. And it explains why on Monday, manager Gabe Kapler wanted to string together as many southpaws as possible to begin their three-game set.

They didn’t last long. Turns out, these Phillies can hit lefties, too.

Scott Alexander opened and didn’t make it out of the first inning before handing off to Sean Manaea, and by the time Edmundo Sosa tripled to deep center field in the fourth inning, marking an end to Manaea’s night, the Giants were in a hole they never recovered from in a 10-4 loss.

Good luck, Kyle.

In the first of three games against the team directly in front of them in the wild-card standings, the Giants (65-60) looked outmatched, were outplayed, and, rather than make up meaningful ground in the race, continued their slide. Dropping to 4-11 over their past 15 games, their playoff position is as precarious as ever, three back of Philadelphia (68-57) with four teams within a game and a half on their heels.

Manaea, who hadn’t allowed a home run since May 17, served up two while being tagged for three runs in 2⅔ innings, while Alexander — and only the start of a defensive night that resembled the worst of last season — allowed one run on three hits, aided by the first of three errors.

The Phillies only began to pour it on against righty Sean Hjelle, who allowed six runs — all with two outs — on 10 hits over 4⅔ frames of mop-up duty.

Facing Phillies ace Aaron Nola, the Giants started just as hot, but it didn’t take long for their inept offense to rear its head again.

Joc Pederson sent Nola’s ninth pitch half a dozen rows into the right field seats, his first home run in nearly three weeks, and LaMonte Wade Jr. tanked a third-inning fastball 428 feet into the greenery beyond the centerfield wall, but that was it for a group that hasn’t solved its woes that date back to mid-June.

“Inching toward 30 pitches there in the first inning, we weren’t able to deliver that final, good punch that would give us a good cushion,” Kapler said. “Then he came back and he was incredibly efficient and we didn’t have a chance to put anything together after that until we got to the end, and at that point it was too late.”

The Giants loaded the bases with one out after Pederson’s home run, but Johan Camago bounced a meager ground ball back to Nola, who started a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning, the second time in three games that the recently signed shortstop has been doubled up with the bases juiced.

After Wade’s third-inning home run, the Giants went 3 for their next 18, until Philadelphia’s relievers forgot how to throw a strike in the ninth, allowing the Giants to cut an eight-run margin to six. Two of those runners were erased when Pederson was thrown out on a questionable attempt to stretch a single into a double and, after he walked in his next plate appearance when Flores bounced into a double play.

Even on a poor all-around showing by the defense — Blake Sabol let a routine line drive fly over his head in left field, Wilmer Flores airmailed a throw to first base, even Patrick Bailey had a passed ball — rookie Wade Meckler stuck out.

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Meckler, whom Kapler defended in an unprompted spiel before the game, struck out for the 12th and 13th times in his first seven games (59% of his plate appearances). Kapler chalked up the 2022 draftee’s early struggles at the plate not to being overmatched by big-league pitching — barely a year out of Oregon State — but rather “nerves.”

Meckler carried his troubles at the plate into center field, where he bobbled the baseball on three occasions, leading to a pair of runs. In the first, Trea Turner turned a single into two bases when Meckler misfielded an easy hopper. Incredibly, he wasn’t charged with an error in the fifth inning when Harper rounded the bases on a deep drive off the wall in left-center field — scored an inside-the-park home run, the second San Francisco has allowed in a week’s span.

Meckler misjudged the angle of the wall, sending him on a chase along the warning track, and when he finally retrieved the ball, he failed to pick it up not once but twice.