In my opinion, when the Giants do not allow hits, they are much more effective than they are on the nights when they do allow hits, by virtue of those hits coming around to score.
- Tim McCarver, 2014
In the final game of a four-game series, the Padres outpitched the Giants, winning by ... wait ...
Well, it felt like a Padres game.
Mike Leake was the Platonic ideal of Mike Leake, using movement and command to flummox Giants hitters. You know what he looked like? He looked like the kind of pitcher that would make a team say, "Screw the minors. Call him up" after he was drafted. Which is what happened. There were ups and downs, struggles and adjustments, possibly a touch of petty theft, but this is the polish the Reds saw when they drafted him, and it's the polish they were hoping for when they broke camp with him in 2010. Here you go, Reds. The best game of his career, give or take.
If you're upset about how things turned out, note that the Padres had a shot to take Leake in the first round. They took Donovan Tate. Mike Leake would be 12-2 against the Giants by now, with a 2.11 ERA, if he were on the Padres.
As is, he's only a minor Latos, a poor man's Portugal. This was his eighth start against the Giants in the regular season, and he's shut them down in five of those. He was hit hard in the other three, including a loss three weeks ago that I don't remember because I'm old. It feels like he's the archetype of a Giants pest, though, considering he's a semi-hard-throwing command wonk. This is the kind of pitcher I expect to drive the Giants mad.
I hereby declare Mike Leake obnoxious, and we should adjust future Reds/Giants expectations accordingly.
Ryan Vogelsong pitched exceptionally. There's no qualifier to that, no "but" included. The last time he started against the Reds, we came up with the three shades of Vogelsong:
There is The Artist, the maestro, the true perfectionist. It's cliché to compare any control maven to Greg Maddux -- do you realize how brilliant that guy was? -- but it's not cliché to compare pitchers to the 40-year-old version floating around Southern California. That guy was still an artist, and Vogelsong at his best is like that guy at his best. Corner, corner, corner. Curve in the dirt, curve in the dirt, curve in the dirt.
There is The Grinder. The pitchers on the corner are there 60 or 70 percent of the time, but the difference between Artist and Grinder is noticeable. There are a lot of deep counts and more than a few runners. There are crises; there are diffused crises. The Grinder might throw seven scoreless, or he might give up four runs in five innings. He usually keeps the team in the game, though.
There is The Pirate. In which sinkers go over the plate, breaking balls don't break, and we all say "Aw, raspberries" a lot.
I'll blockquote the whole danged thing because it still applies. This was between Artist and Grinder, but closer to the artist. Not as fine as his best starts, but still excellent. If Tyler Colvin hits his cutoff man, maybe Vogelsong has a spotless appearance, and we're talking about something else right now.
As a member of Team Acquire-a-Starter, I'm not sure what to do. The other guy threw a no-hitter, and this guy looked like the All-Star he should have been 24 months ago. I guess I'll go back to the letter I was writing to Chase Utley.
Billy Hamilton is fast. Billy Hamilton is not that fast.
Stop that, Billy Hamilton.
I appreciated the awareness and strong throw from Joe Panik, who I was led to believe didn't have a strong arm. The first double play he turned in the majors reinforced that belief, but he had a little mustard on the throw to get Hamilton at the plate. There's something in reserve, a little of the college-shortstop arm that helps make Posey a good catcher.
Seriously, though, the Reds should have lost because of that cocky decision alone. Your legs aren't magic. This isn't 'Nam, Billy. There are rules.
It's time to think happy thoughts, and just like Panik is Bill Mueller -- he's 0-for-16 since that proclamation, by the way -- it sure appears that Adam Duvall is Allen Craig. Yes, that seems perfectly reasonable. Craig took a slow, lumbering path from the middle rounds of the draft to dinger-hitting success in the majors at a relatively late age. Why do the Cardinals have the monopoly on those guys? They shouldn't. We have one now. His name is Adam, and he hits dingers.
There's probably an offshore casino taking bets on the next 0-2 homer Duvall hits in the majors. I'm guessing 2016. But this one was beautiful, a no-doubter in a park filled with home run doubt, coming on a breaking ball that was supposed to bounce, with his family in attendance to cheer him on.
There was some talk in the comments last week about the kind of player he could be. Brett Pill came up as a comp, except a) Pill was okay when he reached Triple-A for the first time as a 25-year-old, while Duvall was a dynamo, and b) Pill is a superstar in Korea right now, so maybe we were wrong the whole time? idk. Oh, and c) Duvall had better walk rates and power numbers throughout the minors.
Maybe -- probably -- he's not Craig. Or even a poor man's Craig for that matter. But for the last x years, the Giants have been looking for a right-handed hitter off the bench with power. I'm not saying they've found it, but I'm more optimistic than I've been since the days of Scott McClain.
And, hell, maybe he's Allen Craig. That was an unlikely, effortless swing on that dinger, alright. He also hit the snot out of an Aroldis Chapman fastball with a runner in scoring position. I can dig that.