If that loss made you upset, allow me to blow your mind: The last time Giants starters allowed five walks or more in back-to-back games, it was May 26 and 27 … 2010. That's right. Exactly three years ago, the Giants were walking up the same storm, and they eventually won the World Series. This brings to mind the famous Bill James quote:
Basically, sabermetrics is just looking exactly back three years ago and predicting the exact same things to happen.
Makes perfect sense to me. So it looks like 2010 all over again, folks. Five walks on May 26 and May 27. An offense that's better than expected. Buster Posey winning the Rookie of the Year again. It's written in the stars, baby. A million miles away.
If you don't believe that, your alternative is to figure that every Giants pitcher is struggling and/or bad at the same time. No pressure, Kickham.
Madison Bumgarner has two different kinds of bad start:
1. The kind where everything close to the plate is hit hard (see: the Twins game)
2. The kind where his mechanics are wonky, and every pitch looks like the 185th pitch in a 1953 game where no one gave a damn about pitch counts
This was the latter. That isn't to say that Bumgarner was tired, or that he threw too many pitches in his last start, or anything like that. No, no, no. He just looked like the tired version of a good Bumgarner. He'll have starts like that. He'll have stretches of starts like that. They don't have to be predictive or instructive. But they're kind of familiar.
When he's in the middle of one of these starts, it's not a good idea to push the envelope. Heck, I'm not Bruce Bochy, who has all of the Midas powers without any of the allegorical downside, so you can take this for the Cheetos-stained typing that it probably is. But were you excited to see Bumgarner out in the seventh? Were you optimistic about him after he gave up a leadoff hit? Were you thinking good thoughts when he stayed in to face lefty-killer Chris Young?
I get there are other things to consider -- tired bullpens, for one -- but all things being equal, a pitcher who starts the seventh inning should be the best pitcher available. Forget giving the starter a chance for a win. Forget the labels of "ace" or "horse." Look at the pitcher's body of work in that game, his most recent games, and how he's responded in similar situations over his career. Bochy might have thought that Bumgarner was the best pitcher he had to start the inning. I respectfully disagree.
This is something of a theme early in the season, and I'm not sure I get it.
Props to George Kontos for making the "just bring in the relievers" argument look especially stupid today, but I'm standing by it.
Also, the Giants' relievers are kind of running on fumes right now. With Casilla out and Sandy Rosario still sketchy, maybe that's the bigger problem. So instead of worrying about Bochy using Bumgarner for a batter too many, maybe we should shift the worrying to Brian Sabean trading Kyle Crick for Steve Chisek.
Also also, the Giants scoring one run probably had something to do with the loss. The Giants are currently the second-best OPS+ in baseball. When they drop to, oh, 11th, I'll get noisy about it. When they're at 15 or lower, I'll open the case of adjectives and shine up "feckless" all nice-like and purty. Until then … probably inappropriate. They've been a good hitting team so far. It would be tiresome to jump on every game with three runs or fewer.
In the top of the ninth, I fell asleep sitting up during Pablo Sandoval's at-bat, and I woke up with Buster Posey on second base. I'm going to experiment more with this form of time travel and report back.
Brandon Belt was called out for the last out of the game. If he had walked on the pitch, the Giants would have had the tying run up. Here was the pitch:
Not really close. And this isn't a new phenomenon for left-handed hitters and game-ending strikeouts. It's kind of a thing. Because left-handed people are godless freaks whose parents didn't care enough to force them into right-handedness, it's hard to get really worked up about this. Still, something about it just seems so gosh dang unfair.
Really, if MLB just put Belt on the honor system, he'd probably do a really good job. He'd probably be really, really honest about it and all of his teammates would give him endless crap for calling himself out on a close pitch, and he'd get all flustered and slumpy. It would be hilarious. And the umpires wouldn't have so much to worry about.