SAN FRANCISCO — This three-game set against the last-place Rockies, like them all, Giants manager Gabe Kapler said before Friday’s series opener, presents his reeling club “a great opportunity.”
“It’s really all about how we keep bouncing back and getting off the mat and continuing to fight,” Kapler said. “You’re going to go through really bad times over the course of a major-league season. Unless you have one of those magical seasons, which this hasn’t been.”
The dream season of 2021 this has not been. Coming off a 1-6 road trip, falling back to .500 and 2½ games out of playoff position, the Giants’ series against the Rockies can be viewed one of two ways: a postseason hopeful looking to save its playoff chances or a meeting of the National League’s two worst teams since the trade deadline.
Either would be true, which makes ESPN’s decision to select Sunday’s game for primetime even more puzzling. In case you missed it, first pitch for Sunday’s series finale is at 5:10 p.m., and the broadcast will be aired on ESPN. It’s one of two primetime games for the Giants over the season’s final three weeks: They will also appear on Sunday Night Baseball again in two weeks for a more traditional selection, the finale of their series at Dodger Stadium (4:10 p.m. PT).
The Giants’ record since Aug. 5: 9-21. The Rockies: 8-22.
The dubious comparisons go back even further. Since the start of July, no team has scored fewer runs than the Giants (the only team with less than 200, in fact). The only team with a worse wRC+ in that span? The Rockies, at 29% below league average, a few points ahead of the 29th-place Giants, 23% below league average.
After failing to advance a runner into scoring position Monday, Kapler challenged his team to be more aggressive at the plate — a “f— it” approach, to use the manager’s words. They scored eight runs and still lost Tuesday, then failed to draw a walk for only the sixth time all season in Wednesday’s loss.
“I think we’ve seen some signs of life,” Kapler said. “Aggressiveness, taking the action to the opposing pitcher in more recent games. Not all the way there. One other way to think about it is being selectively aggressive on every single pitch and repeating that over and over.”
Kapler was hopeful that Patrick Bailey wouldn’t miss more than the minimum seven days on the concussion list.
But in the meantime, Joey Bart was in good spirits, ready for a fresh start. After rushing to Chicago on a redeye and starting Wednesday afternoon’s series finale — he contributed an RBI on a sac fly — Bart had the benefit of a full night’s sleep before getting behind the plate for Kyle Harrison’s fourth major-league start Friday night.
“I’ve been getting in my work and being where my feet are,” a sanguine Bart said at his locker before Friday’s game. “You can look at it one way or another. Always keep looking to improve and move forward. … This has been a hard team to crack. There’s a lot of good players. My situation is what it is. You can attack it or you can look back. I’ve been coming everyday to attack it and I’ve enjoyed it, I really have.”
The scouting report from Triple-A Sacramento: Reliever Erik Miller, who hasn’t given up a run since July, a span of 12⅓ innings, is “a big leaguer,” Bart said. “I don’t know if it’s here or somewhere else. … He’s big and strong and he’s got legit stuff.” On the hitting side, Bart singled out 29-year-old corner infielder Armando Alvarez, whose 15 homers are second on the River Cats. “He’s a lot of fun to be around,” Bart said. “Brings a lot of energy.”
Luciano ‘could be an option’
Shortstop Marco Luciano, out since Aug. 8 with a hamstring injury, has returned to game action and “could be an option” for the Giants down the stretch, Kapler said.
Luciano, the Giants’ top hitting prospect, played a five innings in an instructional league game this week and was scheduled to play seven innings Friday.
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Shortstop has been the Giants’ weakest position in relation to the rest of the league this season, and Luciano was thought to be an option to provide a late-season boost in the same fashion Harrison, their top pitching prospect, has for the rotation. His first stint in the big leagues, however, didn’t last long — only four games — and he played only six games at Triple-A Sacramento before getting hurt.
RHP Alex Cobb (hip) expects to start Monday. He would have been scheduled to make his next start this weekend but it was pushed back after he received a cortisone shot for the hip that has been bothering him since mid-June. … RHP Ross Stripling (back) said “I’m ready” to come off the injured list, but it doesn’t sound like the Giants are ready to activate him. He threw a bullpen before Friday’s game and could make another rehab start. … OF Michael Conforto (hamstring) ran the bases pregame and could be activated as soon as this weekend if he responds well. … Buster Posey was on hand for Pediatric Cancer Awareness Night. Posey and his wife, Kristen, hosted a gala Thursday evening in support of the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and the V Foundation’s pediatric cancer research.