Giants’ latest bullpen game goes off the rails early in a loss to the Dodgers

Giants’ bullpen game goes off the rails early vs. Dodgers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

LOS ANGELES — In 2021, even the bullpen games proved memorable for the Giants.

One year and one day ago, Dominic Leone was the first of nine Giants relievers to take the hill on a night when the bullpen held strong and the lineup stunned Walker Buehler on Sunday Night Baseball. Like everything else a year later, the bullpen game results are just not the same for the Giants.

Their latest attempt went off the rails early, with Jarlin Garcia giving up loud homers to Joey Gallo and Max Muncy. Gabe Kapler hoped that John Brebbia, Garcia and Tyler Rogers could get him through five innings, and they did. But they trailed 5-1 at that point in a game the Giants lost 6-3.

The Giants are 5-6 in bullpen games, which is just about matches where they are as a team overall. But they certainly have not been the weapon the staff expected after last year’s success.

“Up and down,” Kapler said of the entire collection of bullpen games. “Some good and not so good.”

Kapler earlier had used the same phrase to describe Garcia’s season, which has been a microcosm of the bullpen as a whole. A year after he was a valuable member of one of the best bullpens in baseball, Garcia has been all over the map. He started the season off hot and then went into a tailspin in June and July. Garcia was more dependable in August, a month that included his disagreement with the Dodgers, leading to Kapler’s lone ejection as a Giant.

Garcia had a 2.16 ERA since the beginning of August, but that dissipated in a hurry on Tuesday. Five of the six runs from the Dodgers went on his line.

“I came out as I always do, trying to compete and do the same things I do every day,” he said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “Today was not a good day.”

Garcia said he was not at all thinking about that prior outing against the Dodgers. He said he goes day-by-day, but the Giants do have to look ahead, at the very least. This is the most taxing stretch of the second half, with a doubleheader in Milwaukee coming on Thursday between this series in Los Angeles and one at Wrigley Field. It didn’t help that the Giants needed to slip a bullpen game into the mix because of Alex Wood’s injury.

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The Giants will try to figure that all out in the next couple of days. Some relievers — most notably Rogers and Dominic Leone — carried a heavy load on Tuesday and it wasn’t enough because of what happened earlier in the game.

“There have been moments when (Garcia) has come into the game with a real intent and throwing a ton of strikes, and other times when he’s falling behind,” Kapler said. “When he falls behind he’s just not an effective Major League reliever. When he gets ahead and he’s very aggressive and assertive early in counts and gets ahead, he’s one of the better left-handed relievers around the game. That’s what we’ve seen over the course of the last couple of weeks, sort of the tale of two pitchers.”

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