In the third inning of Thursday's game, the Giants stood by and watched as a player on the other team had a Richie Tenenbaum inning. Shelby Miller walked four batters, scraped his knuckles on the mound again, and (probably) took off his socks and one of his shoes. This is why it's hard for even awful teams to lose eight games out of nine that often. Sometimes the other team just gives the game to you.
The Giants considered this generous offer for a moment, but eventually returned the game with a nice, polite, handwritten note. No, thank you. We cannot accept this charity. And they say the Cardinals play with class.
The Giants were swept in four games at home, getting humiliated in different ways in each game. The Diamondbacks came in looking like cosplaying goofballs, and they left looking like the better team. This might be an early season blip, or they might be leading by a dozen games within two months, but it sure looked like they were the better team. They got the hits when they needed to, and they prevented the hits when they needed to. The Giants could do neither.
The Giants couldn't hit with runners in scoring position, going 3-for-31 in the series. That sounds like the culprit, the easy villain, and it certainly didn't help. But the Diamondbacks were 5-for-31 with runners in scoring position in the series. It's not all about the RISP bogeyman. It's about everything. It's about Madison Bumgarner giving up a two-run homer on an 0-2 pitch. It's about Santiago Casilla giving up a home run on a fastball down the middle on a two-strike pitch. It's about the relievers throwing water on the bacon grease in general. It's about Brandon Belt lining three fly ball outs when he needs a hit, and grounding into a double play when he needs a fly ball out.
It's about the Giants getting outplayed in every facet of the game, even when they're letting the opposing starter walk himself out of the game.
The worst part of Thursday's game, in a tie with everything else, is that the Giants did do a lot of things right at the plate. They let Miller bury himself. They hit the ball hard in each of their four plate appearances in the inning before. They were ahead in the count a ton. And for a slumping team, there's nothing more welcome than getting ahead in the count. When National League batters were ahead in the count last year, they hit .296/.462/.485. Here's what the Giants did in every plate appearance in which they worked the count in their favor:
- Span, 1st - Walk
- Pence, 1st - Strike out
- Crawford, 2nd - Fly to center
- Duffy, 2nd - Single
- Brown, 2nd - Fly to center
- Cueto, 3rd - Walk
- Span, 3rd - Walk
- Panik, 3rd - Walk
- Pence, 3rd - Walk
- Belt, 3rd - Double play
- Crawford, 3rd - Grounder to first
- Duffy, 4th - Single
- Brown, 4th - Strike out
- Span, 5th - Grounder to first
- Panik, 5th - Fly to left
- Pence, 5th - Grounder to short
- Pagan, 6th - Pop out
- Panik, 7th - Fly to left
This isn't to say that the Giants were uniformly awful in those plate appearances. They had two hits and five walks. Several of those outs were hit hard, too. But there wasn't the game-changing moment. There wasn't the pitcher stepping into a mess of quicksand that he couldn't get out of. Diamondbacks pitchers were clumsy French waiters on roller skates, screaming, "I HOPE ZAT I DO NOT DROP ZEESE BANANA CREAM PIES" and we never got to see the payoff. No pies were dropped. No one paid for their mistakes. It was just feckless result after feckless result.
It's too early to panic. It's not too to be completely disenchanted with baseball and wonder what in the hell is going on. Johnny Cueto? Pitching well! Madison Bumgarner! Back on track! The lineup? Healthy! And it's all adding up to a team that you expect to lose the second they fall behind by a run.
It's not like the Giants need to shake things up. It's not like they're going to trade Matt Duffy or demote Hunter Pence to send a message. It's just a bucket of misshapen baseball parts in a department store where a very nice display of baseball should be. And it isn't fun to watch. We waited all winter for this.
I hope one of you saved the receipt.
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The Giants haven't scored a single run in the ninth inning this year.
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Michael Morse, who earlier was DFA'd by #pirates,has been unconditionally released. They're on hook for $5M.— Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) April 21, 2016
yeah sure what the hell can't hurt
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The Marlins are coming into town, and they're the other team that inexplicably can't lose at AT&T Park. So look for that.
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If there's any consolation, this team reminded me of the 2000 Giants, at least when it came to how confident I was in them. That team started a game worse than this year's team, and then they ended with the best record in baseball.
So what I'm saying is that our worst baseball emotions are still to come, and they'll be much worse than this.