SAN FRANCISCO — For the first 30 minutes after Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Padres, the Giants’ clubhouse was mostly filled with rookies and call-ups. They sat at their lockers and thumbed through phones as reporters waited to talk to the players who were on the field for most of an awful series against the San Diego Padres.
Madison Bumgarner spoke early and then Joe Panik addressed reporters. A few minutes later, Denard Span was standing in front of his locker. He noted that it’s hard to play certain teams in September. Call-ups are young and energetic, Span said. As veterans on contenders fight for playoff spots, the young players on the Padres are fighting for jobs.
Perhaps there’s an extra sense of hunger there. Perhaps that can be an answer for Bruce Bochy.
The manager said he goes home every night and thinks about what he could have done differently. He said he would take some time to digest this loss and try to figure out what else could have been done. The young players who surfed Twitter and texted friends are likely hopeful that Bochy settles on this: Mix it up.
Bochy often says that if it’s not working, you change something. The Giants are not currently working. They came home after their best series of the second half and promptly got swept by Paul Clemens, Clayton Richard and Luis Perdomo.
[INSTANT REPLAY: No run support for Bumgarner, Giants swept by Padres]
How do they explain that?
“It’s tough. I wish I could, but I don’t know,” said Madison Bumgarner, who got four singles of support in his bid for win No. 100. “So far the second half has been something like I’ve never seen before, and a lot of guys who have been around are saying the same thing.”
Bumgarner won’t face the Cardinals in a crucial four-game series that could shake up the Wild Card race. His next start is Monday in Los Angeles. The Giants have some work to do to make sure they’re not buried in the National League West by then. They are currently five back with 17 to play.
This was supposed to be the week the Giants made up ground. Instead they got rolled by a Padres team that has two sweeps all season: This one — San Diego’s first at AT&T Park in six years — and the one right after the All-Star break that started this second-half slide.
The staff has been hesitant to shake things up too much, with Bochy often saying that “these are our guys.” But he showed cracks before Wednesday’s game, telling reporters that Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson would see increased time against left-handers. Perhaps that plan will expand to include a Mac Williamson, who had a .899 OPS in July but just six at-bats since. Or a Jarrett Parker, who hit five homers in 98 at-bats in the first half but has 23 scattered at-bats in the second half.
Bochy has already made changes to the back end of the bullpen, and he seemed to be leaning toward altering the top of the lineup after a rough series in Denver. Then the Giants swept the Diamondbacks.
“You’d like to think we’re coming out of this after some success in Arizona, but it wasn’t there,” he said. “We got, what, four hits? That’s not going to work. Bum did a pretty good job there. He kept us in the game but we just couldn’t get going.”
Bochy said he didn’t see this kind of ineptitude coming. The day game gives him some additional time to try and find a way for the Giants to regroup before their biggest series of the season.
The six games left against the Dodgers will be completely meaningless if the Giants don’t hold their own against the Cardinals, starting Thursday night. St. Louis enters a game out in the Wild Card standings. The Mets, who — like the Giants and Cardinals — lost Wednesday, sit in between.
“We’ve got four very important ones coming up,” Panik said. “We’ve got to let (this) go and be ready for tomorrow.”