Giants won't take solace in close battles with Dodgers after sweep

Giants won’t take solace in close battles with Dodgers after sweep originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

LOS ANGELES — Shohei Ohtani’s first homer as a Dodger was quickly overshadowed. A few minutes later, Jorge Soler hit a 452-foot blast that would have been impressive on any night, but was particularly jaw-dropping on a cold one at Dodger Stadium.

But after the game, Giants manager Bob Melvin wasn’t thinking about either of those swings.

Michael Conforto followed Soler’s rocket with a deep fly ball to right that died just in front of the track. Off the bat, the visiting dugout thought Conforto had tied the game. A night earlier, Melvin watched Austin Slater’s potential go-ahead homer go 376 feet but land in Kiké Hernandez’s glove.

“You don’t get any prizes for close,” Melvin said. “So we’ve got to dig a little harder.”

The Giants did not get run out of the building in their first matchup against a team that already was the best in the division before spending a billion dollars on offseason improvements. But as Melvin said, you don’t get any praise for keeping it close, and they ended up getting swept, falling 5-4 on Wednesday and heading home with a 2-5 record.

There were plenty of positives on the trip, but ultimately the Giants couldn’t put a ball in the gap when they really needed to, and there were too many minor mistakes that added up. They were a step behind in the third inning, in particular, and it cost Kyle Harrison a couple of runs.

Harrison was fine in his second start of the year, leaning heavily on his fastball on a night when his slider didn’t have its usual shape. But these Dodgers always will jump on anything less than elite, and they put the young lefty through some long innings while scoring four runs in the first five.

“It was definitely not good in my eyes and not good in our team’s eyes. A win is all that matters, and to get swept is not a great feeling, as well,” Harrison said. “We’re going to be back to the drawing board and we’re going to be ready for these guys next time we come out. It just gives us that much more motivation to want to get them.”

The Giants won’t see the Dodgers again until the middle of May, and they should be at full strength by then. Blake Snell, who dominated them last year, will return to the rotation on Monday. Alex Cobb is being slow-played, but he’ll be back in the rotation by then.

The Dodgers also might get better, though. They’re missing several key arms, and in the ninth inning Wednesday, with their closer unavailable, they turned to Dinelson Lamet, the former Cy Young candidate who nearly pitched his way out of the game in recent years. Lamet was added to their roster on Monday, but he struck out a pair while closing out the sweep.

For now, the Giants will focus on what’s directly ahead. Jordan Hicks will get the home opener on Friday and Snell’s return should send a jolt through the organization. It’s not a particularly imposing homestand — San Diego Padres and Washington Nationals — and the players are eager to get back to their beds after yet another year of opening with a long road trip.

They had hoped to land late Wednesday night with a better record. But they’re three games under — and already four out of first — after learning that these Dodgers might truly be the best team that money can buy.

“We’re certainly not at full strength yet, but two games that you come back and you’re that close against a good team playing really well right now, that’s really nothing to hang your hat on,” Melvin said. “It’s more frustrating than anything else.”

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