LOS ANGELES - Every win counts the same, but there are times where that celebration feels like something bigger, like a sign of things to come. The Giants rode that vibe for half a decade, and they could do nothing but watch late Sunday night as it engulfed Dodger Stadium.
The best team in the National League won on a walk-off double in the bottom of the eleventh inning from a rookie making his MLB debut. Their home ballpark shook before the tying run even reached the plate. The noise was deafening as the Dodgers piled atop Kyle Farmer and ripped his jersey off.
In the visiting dugout, the Giants quietly gathered their things and headed for another unhappy flight. They are on a different planet than the Dodgers right now, a fact made blatantly clear over three games this weekend.
"Everything is going right for them," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's just the opposite for us."
It's been that way for four months. The Giants, after a 3-2 loss, are an astounding 34 1/2 games behind the Dodgers. The Giants expect to be quiet before Monday's trade deadline, keeping the same group intact and hoping to make subtle changes in the offseason. This series made you wonder, though: What's the point? When will the Giants ever be able to compete with this group of Dodgers again?
In the clubhouse, some are surely wondering the same. Heads drooped after the series finale, and guys talked of pressing on and continuing to play hard. But there's a talent gulf, and it was clear over a weekend of baseball. The Dodgers swept the series without Clayton Kershaw throwing a pitch. They relied on 23-year-old Corey Seager and 22-year-old Cody Bellinger to spark the offense. They will get better. Other young players filled the box score. Enrique Hernandez, 25, made a throw that kept the Dodgers in the game. Yasiel Puig, still just 26, drove in the tying run in the ninth after a couple of defensive lapses by the Giants. There's much more on the way.
"It is what it is," Madison Bumgarner said of the deficit. "I try to be a realist. That's just what it is. I try to keep this thing simple. Come in and try to win today. That's the only thing that's going to turn it around, is winning."
In Bumgarner, the Giants at least have heavy artillery to face the other way. He was his old self Sunday, throwing seven shutout innings. Bumgarner said he did not lobby to move up a day and face the Dodgers on Sunday Night Baseball. But …
"I wasn't going to turn it down," he said. "That's for sure. To get a chance to go against the Dodgers, especially with them going as good as they are, it worked out (well)."
Bumgarner once again showed up under the bright lights, and perhaps he represents the best-case scenario. It's hard to see the Dodgers losing the division next year or anytime soon, but perhaps the Giants can go that old Bumgarner-Wild-Card way once again. They intend to compete in 2018, and that seems the likeliest way.
At the moment, it's hard to even see that happening. For all the good things the Giants did this weekend - even in three losses - they have not been able to carry that intensity over into other series. It's why they're 6-7 against the best team in baseball and 34-59 against everyone else.
"This is something new for pretty much everybody here," Joe Panik said of all the losing.
It is endless, and it's often painful. Conor Gillaspie was a step slow getting to Chase Utley's grounder in the ninth and Sam Dyson didn't pay attention to Utley at first. Soon he was on second, and soon after that the game was tied. Two innings later, having used Dyson and Hunter Strickland, Bochy turned to Albert Suarez.
"I would have gone with Albert every time there," he said. "He's throwing well. He had good stuff, hitting 95 (mph). I was confident with him out there. He's got great poise and good stuff."
It didn't matter in the end. Farmer's double ended it, and now the Giants have to figure out how to pick themselves up and be competitive against others.
"We better," Panik said. "We're blessed to be playing in the major leagues and everyone here has to bring that energy and resiliency. We have to bounce back. We've got (56) games left. We need to bring it."