Ian Kennedy had allowed a home run to the Giants before. The longtime Giants nemesis gave up one just last year. It was Chris Dominguez's only career hit, and it went a long way. Also, the Giants lost. He allowed two in 2012, one to Melky Cabrera and one to Brandon Belt. The Diamondbacks were up by three runs in both games, and they would hold on to win. In 2011, he allowed two in the same game, one to Cody Ross and one to Aubrey Huff. The Diamondbacks won by three.
Here is the underrated villain for the Giants, spread across two division rivals. Mat Latos is the Beatles CD you give to your kids when they go to college. Ian Kennedy is the Pretty Things CD you give when they come back with long hair.
A CD. You know, a compact disc. They store songs and wait, you can't be serious with that question. Oh, come on, they sang "Let It Be" and a hundred songs you know. They, look, Mat Latos is the Kanye West, uh, page on a streaming music service. Ian Kennedy is the one of the related artists that you click on.
Except this is for pitchers you dislike instead of artists you like.
Let me start over.
It had been a while since the Giants faced Ian Kennedy and hit a meaningful dinger. The last backbreaker against him was in 2010, and because it was a hitter I miss, I'm going to include the video:
Since then, the big hits have been mostly missing of the Giants against Kennedy. A solo homer here, a double there, often with the game already tilted in the balance of whatever team Kennedy's on. He came into Wednesday's game with a career 2.42 ERA against the Giants in 145 innings. That's almost three-quarters of a season. And for perspective, in Tim Lincecum's 2009 Cy Young season, he had a 2.45 ERA in his first 140 innings. Kennedy against the Giants over his career has basically been the start of a Tim Lincecum Cy Young season. Don't bother adjusting for era or park to make those numbers look perfect. We're talking about what it feels like to watch.
It's ghastly to watch, thanks for asking. I realize that Kennedy is something of an awful pitcher at the moment and not very popular in San Diego right now. Still, all of the above is what made Posey's grand slam so cathartic. Right away, even though you're a wizened baseball fan who knows that the game's not over 'til, you still kind of had an idea that the Giants were going to win. Finally, finally, finally, they had the big hit against Kennedy. Finally, finally, finally, they had the big hit at AT&T Park. Two bugaboos, vanquished at the same time, at least for a night.
The count was 2-2. There were two outs. A check swing would have ruined it all and led to a hyper-stressful game with an undetermined outcome. And then ...
Posey was due to be a free agent after next season. Can you imagine the stress we would all have?
Grand slams lead to fun facts. Do you like fun facts? I do. On account of the fun. Here is the entire history of Giants grand slams against the Padres before Wednesday night:
We're talking twice a decade, sometimes even fewer. Now, it's not quite as rare for the Giants to hit one at AT&T Park, of course, what with the 81 games there every season. They've hit 29 at home since the park opened. But you'll never guess who the only two players are with two grand slams as a Giant at AT&T Park.
Go on. Guess.
I was going to paste a picture of Stimpy here, but then an innocent Google Image Search for "Ren and Stimpy" brought up something that was uploaded to DeviantArt, and, well, I'm just happy they've found each other. But I'm also done looking for images.
Edgar Renteria and Madison Bumgarner.
See? Fun facts. Grand slams are rotten with them.
Oh, one more fun fact. The last time that Buster Posey hit a grand slam against a pitcher with Padres ties and three letters in his first name, according to Baseball-Reference's Play Index:
The Giants have hit four grand slams and just one three-run homer. I'll take the grand slams, but that's still weird. Every other team has at least three. The Yankees have 16.
There are 19 teams with fewer grand slams than Buster Posey, so don't bother complaining. Just pointing it out.
Oh, right, Ryan Vogelsong didn't allow any runs. He has a 2.37 ERA over his last 10 starts. This part of the recap is buried down here because I don't know what to do with it. Grand slams? Easy, just rattle off the fun facts and mention how you like them. Vogelsong continuing to pitch well in a situation where that only muddles the future of the rotation? I have no idea.
Listen, I can take a stand. I know what it's like to believe in something. I'm not totally spineless.
So here's my quick Ryan Vogelsong analysis, dumbed down due to time constraints:
- He's probably the fifth-best starting pitcher currently on the Giants
- I trust him more than either Tim
- I still wouldn't expect him to be much better than he was last year (4.00 ERA, 85 ERA+, a win above replacement level)
- Which is fine
- As long as it doesn't prevent the Giants from getting better
It's a good situation to have, one of the pitchers likely to be removed from the rotation, making a stand. That doesn't mean we get to forget the beginning of June, April, the last three seasons, or May, for that matter. But it sure makes the rotation mess a lot more interesting than it already was.
Great moments in subtle Bruce Bochy trolling: Having Javier Lopez pitching to three right-handed hitters in the seventh. You can choose to believe that it's not trolling, that Lopez eating an inning was important for a staff that just went through an extra-inning loss.
I choose to believe it was an under-the-radar way to annoy the Padres.
Don't take my dreams away from me.
Jean Machi returned to action on Wednesday and threw eight pitches in a 1-2-3 inning. In those eight pitches, he got two swinging strikes, something he's done in fewer than half of his appearances this year. Except when he's done it before, he's thrown 30 pitches, 38 pitches, 46 pitches ... the swinging strikes happened because they were going to for anyone throwing that many pitches.
Instead, in an admittedly small sample, the Padres were swinging and missing at nasty split-forks. They were nasty enough to break PITCHf/x with one being called a generic 88.6 fastball, and the other one being classified as a change.
Welcome back, Jean Machi. I guess we don't give him enough credit for two excellent relief seasons over the last two years.