At 3:52pm, 34 minutes after the bottom of the seventh inning had started, the Giants led the Braves 13-3. They had scored 8 runs and, for the first time in franchise history, hit 3 triples in a single inning. It was all against the rebuilding Braves, who had started the day by matching up Aaron Blair (he of the 7.99 ERA) against one of the best pitchers in baseball, Madison Bumgarner. This was a series the Giants were supposed to win, and in one of the few times of this second half, the Giants looked not only better than a bad team, but like world-beaters.
Let's luxuriate in the offensive successes of Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford, Jarrett Parker, and Denard Span. Heck, if you want to add Eduardo Nunez and Gorkys Hernandez to that mix, go for it, man. Just do it. Isn't it fantastic? The Giants hit, hit hard, and hit often. It was a glorious sight to behold. The last time the Giants hit 4 home runs in a game? August 24, 2010. Conor Gillaspie hit a pinch-hit triple.
The 4 triples hit in today's game matched the San Francisco record set in 1960, and before today, repeated last year against the Padres. Remember that one? I don't! But that's not all:
The Giants have four triples and four homers today. Last time that happened in MLB? May 6, 1998. Yankees at Texas.— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) August 28, 2016
It's really funny to think that the 2016 Giants had a day comparable to an entirely different offensive era especially a game between two teams that defined said era, but here we are.
Joe Panik hit two home runs in a single game for the first time in his career, in a game best compared to a 1998 Yankees game. Derek Jeter went 4-for-6 in that game, but hit only one home run in the Yankees' 15-13 win. So, even though Joe Panik gets compared to Derek Jeter sometimes, I think it's safe to say that he's *clearly better than Derek Jeter*.
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All of this happened behind Madison Bumgarner, whose start was fairly easy to overlook. After Ender Inciarte tripled in the first inning and Adonis Garcia walked, Bumgarner settled in to retire 12 in a row. Not before the Braves got on the board thanks to a Matt Kemp sac fly in that first inning, of course, but Bumgarner didn't let the Braves steamroll him after what was a shaky opening.
On the day, he never really looked overpowering. His stuff didn't look as sharp as we've seen it, even though he struck out 5. He got away with a lot of floating curves and dull sliders because these were the Braves. He ended the fifth inning looking shaky and started the sixth inning even shakier, stuff & command wise, culminating in a massive home run off the bat of Freddie Freeman that cut the Giants' lead to 5-3. It could have been worse had this not been the Braves, but he wound up battling and getting through the sixth, with help from some stellar defense.
He's creeping up on 200 innings in a career that has already seen a lot of mileage on that arm. A shaky Bumgarner is still better than most of the Giants staff, but the fact remains that the Giants' margin for error is incredibly slim with five weeks to go in the season and they can't afford Bs or B-minuses from Bumgarner the rest of the way.
But as I suggested earlier today after news of Derek Law's forearm strain broke, the Giants probably shouldn't rely on their pitching going forward. They need to score a metric f-ton of runs to win games. It's the offense that'll have to carry them.
Jarret Parker's return should help. He was surprisingly solid and put together many nice plate appearances before his demotion. If Mac Williamson can heal soon, his return in September should serve as another boost. Hunter Pence isn't going to contribute any meaningful power the rest of the way, and probably not Buster Posey, either. Brandon Belt might slump through September, too, or else turn it on when it's already too late. That leaves everybody else. We know Denard Span won't OPS .750 ever again, and Eduardo Nunez is largely still struggling. Joe Panik's bat appears to be on the comeback trail. Will Panik, Crawford, Nunez, Parker, and Gorkys Hernandez be enough?
Denard Span homered today. Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford, Eduardo Nunez, Jarrett Parker, and Gorkys Hernandez went 12-for-20 with 2 doubles, 2 triples, and 3 home runs.
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The agony and the ecstasy of Eduardo Nunez. In the fourth inning, he beat out a grounder for an infield hit thanks to his spead, but then misread a ball in the dirt to get thrown out at second base rather easily on a steal attempt. In the sixth, a hard hit bouncer off Matt Kemp's bat seemed to shoot up to another level after it bounced past third base -- Nunez made a diving stab on the ball, scrambled to his feet, and fired a bullet over to first base for the out. It would've been extremely difficult for our beloved Matt Duffy to make that play and impossible for Conor Gillaspie to make.
Oh, what's that? I didn't do the description of Nunez's play justice? Fair enough.
And then in the sixth inning he swung wildly at three pitches and struck out. But then in the Giants' big seventh inning, his ridiculous bat speed yanked a pitch into the stands for a booming home run.
All that to say this: Nunez is talented. If there's anyone on the Giants roster in the second half of the season who's probably more guilty of pressing rather than regressing, it has to be Nunez. You can see why he's a major leaguer, the tools are obvious, but his decision-making has been hurting him. Decision-making can be fixed.
He's got to feel like he's on an island. He's the new guy who bumped the beloved guy and he's the stranger on a team that's too busy looking at itself in the mirror as it death spirals. Maybe he thinks the Twins are haunted and he brought their badness with him. MAYBE EDUARDO NUNEZ THINKS 14-26 IS ALL HIS FAULT.
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The Dodgers took the series from the Cubs and maintain a 2-game lead on the Giants. The Giants won a series for only the second time in the second half. They're 14-26 since the All-Star break and have been out-homered 54-34. But they also hit 4 home runs and 4 triples today. 3 of those triples came in the seventh inning. Jake Peavy gave up 3 triples against the Rockies on April 13. So, today's game balances the scales of that one. Did today's win begin the process of balancing the scales of the second half?