A surprising and spectacular ride for the Giants came to a startling halt Thursday night. Flores slowly walked back to the dugout after being called out on a disputed check-swing, finishing a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the National League Division Series.
“It looked like he didn’t go. I mean, that was my take on it,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said.
“I just think it’s just a disappointing way to end,” he said.
Kapler added: “It’s heightened on the last play of the game … in this case a check-swing.”
“That’s going to be the thing that is talked about quite a bit and I understand why,” he said. “I just don’t know how much sense it makes to, for us, on our side, to pick that apart. I don’t know how much, how helpful it’s going to be.”
Kapler’s ballclub, which set a franchise record with 107 wins in the regular season and had stayed a step ahead of the Dodgers the whole year, couldn’t finish off the defending World Series champions in a winner-take-all game.
Instead, the Giants’ final chance ended when Flores was rung up on an 0-2 pitch from Dodgers ace Max Scherzer working in a rare closer’s role.
With a runner on first and two outs, Flores appeared on TV replays to hold up on a low-and-away slider that missed the strike zone. Plate umpire Doug Eddings checked with first-base ump Gabe Morales, who ruled Flores swung. Check-swings are judgment calls and not reviewable under Major League Baseball replay rules.
“I mean, the immediate emotion is frustration, right?” Kapler said.
“Super tough. Yeah, I mean, obviously you don’t want a game to end that way. I know these guys work really hard to make the right call, so it’s super challenging on our end. Obviously it’s going to be frustrating to have a game end like that. But a pretty high-quality hitter at the plate that can climb back into that count, it’s no guarantee of success at the end of the at-bat. It’s just a tough way to end it.”
Morales told a pool reporter that “check-swings are one of the hardest calls we have. I don’t have the benefit of multiple camera angles when I’m watching it live. When it happened live I thought he went, so that’s why I called it a swing.”
Morales said he had seen a replay of the last pitch. Asked whether he still thought it was a swing, crew chief Ted Barrett answered.
“Yeah, no, we, yeah, yeah, he doesn’t want to say,” Barrett said.
Many in the crowd of 42,275 had a more definitive view.
Fans who had spent the evening standing and waving orange towels erupted in anger after Morales’ call. Some threw cans of beer onto the field as the Dodgers emerged from their dugout, and several pieces of trash were tossed onto the outfield grass.
It was an abrupt end to a year that few people saw coming out of spring training, especially from a team that hadn’t finished over .500 since 2016.
With the World Series champion Dodgers and San Diego Padres heavily favored, the upstart Giants not only saw their championship-experienced veterans shine but repeatedly rode their bevy of fresh new faces — including young ace Logan Webb — to the best record…
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