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Giants Come Home With Playoff Destiny in Own Hands Despite Tough Loss

Giants disappointed, but have playoff destiny in own hands originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Giants manager Gabe Kapler generally doesn't like talking about future series, preferring to keep the focus on each day's opponent. It can be dangerous to look too far ahead, as the Giants were reminded in the middle innings Wednesday during their eventual 9-6 loss

Leading 6-1 after four at Coors Field, they looked headed for a power-packed sweep that would vault them into what should be the easiest homestand of the season. It all evaporated in a flash.

The Colorado Rockies scored five runs in the seventh, with Kevin Pillar notching the go-ahead hit, to take a lead they wouldn't relinquish. The third- and fourth-best teams in the NL West ended up with a two-game series split despite the fact that the Giants outscored the Rockies by two touchdowns and a two-point conversion over 24 hours. 

"You never feel safe with a lead here," Kapler said. "And for good reason."

The Giants bullpen has quietly been a strength over the last couple of weeks, and with an off day Monday, a blowout Tuesday, and another off day coming Thursday, Kapler had his guys lined up. Sam Coonrod had not allowed a hit in four appearances since coming off the injured list and got his first career save Sunday, but he walked the leadoff batter in the seventh inning Wednesday and then gave up a single and double. 

Kapler called for Tyler Rogers with two in scoring position and a one-run lead. Rogers pitched 14 times in August and allowed just two earned runs, but when it spins on him, sometimes it really, really spins. He hung an 0-2 breaking ball that Pillar drove into the gap for a triple. A fastball to Sam Hilliard was supposed to be down and away but leaked to the top of the zone, and Hilliard sent it out to left for two insurance runs. 

"These guys aren't going to be perfect," Kapler said. "They're going to make mistakes, they're going to miss with their location. That's going to happen. I think it's a little bit more difficult here, but those guys came into the game and they just weren't able to locate their pitches. It's part of baseball. It's disappointing. I believe in both of those guys. Rogers has been really, really good for us."

Kapler said he figured Rogers would want that pitch to Pillar back. The Giants would like another shot at a lot of late at-bats, too. They failed to add on, and they went down pretty quietly over the final innings, falling a half-game back of the Rockies in the NL wild-card chase. 

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This ended up being a 3-2 road trip, and as Kapler prepared to fly home, he was willing to go big-picture a bit. 

"The ball is in our court," he said. "We have the ability to control our destiny. Look, today's loss was disappointing. At the same time, we're swinging the bats really well. We've got a lineup that can put up runs, Coors Field or not. We can do that against righties or lefties. What we're starting to see is our starters are giving us a chance to win games, and outside of today, our bullpen has been pretty good as well. 

"We need it all to come together these last few weeks. I think our schedule is a manageable one."

That's a polite way of saying "we now face the Diamondbacks, who sold many of their best players at the deadline, and the Mariners, who are not a contender." This is an opportunity for the Giants, and one they should take advantage of.

Just as Wednesday's game escalated quickly, this season is, too. When the Giants return home Friday, they'll have just 22 games left in their push for a postseason spot.  

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