The Giants have played 12 games. In seven of these games, they’ve scored five runs or more. They’ve scored six or more in five of those 12 games. On Friday night, they kept adding on and adding on, scoring eight runs for the second time this season.
It might be time to consider that the Giants aren’t so bad at hitting. That they might even be good. If we can use the it’s-still-early canard when things are going poorly, it applies after an eight-run game, too. If we watch two weeks of Padres-marinated losses, that will disabuse us of this notion. But if the Giants have had problems this year, it’s been more with timing than poor hitting.
The Giants, well, they’re tied for the National League lead in runs scored now.
That seems important.
For all my hand-wringing about left field and runners in scoring position, the bigger problem has been with the pitching, which has allowed the second-most runs in the NL so far, even after tonight. That factlet up there about them being tied in runs scored seems impressive, until you realize they’re tied with the Diamondbacks, the team that they’ve played seven times. The Giants have given up a mess of runs.
That also seems important.
That’s where Johnny Cueto came in. If the Giants are going to be successful in 2017, they’ll need Cueto to make himself $200 million in the offseason. He was masterful until the hiccups, and then he was masterful through the hiccups, and he did it with an unflappable determination/flair/flairtermination that is impossible to appreciate enough. What he did isn’t a state of mind that you can pickle and keep in the root cellar for prospects of the future.
The short description: With the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, Cueto got three double plays. The only problem was that the first two double plays weren’t outs at all. Joe Panik dropped the first one on a nobody’s-fault collision that knocked the ball loose, and Eduardo Nuñez’s glove stayed high on a sharp two-hopper to third.
I’m not going to call out young pitchers from Christmas past, but you can summon them at will. You know there are pitchers in Giants history who would have melted into a puddle of pitcher-like substance after the first botched double play, much less the second. Cueto got two batters to pound a baseball into the dirt, right at a fielder, only to have to keep pitching, keep grinding, keep pitching.
He finally got the double play on the third try. It was one of the best pitching demonstrations in recent memory. You could see what he was trying to do. The hitters knew what he was trying to do. He still did it, and then he did it again. When that didn’t work, he did it again. The results were wrong, not what he was doing. What he was doing was perfect.
The box score reads seven innings pitched, two runs allowed, but it was much more than that. It was a pitcher who could manipulate the ball like a warlock, until he couldn’t. And when he couldn’t, he hacked and slashed his way through the vines, and then he hacked and slashed his way through the bad luck.
He came out 3-0 on the other side. He deserves it.
Congratulations to Chris Marrero, who hit his first major-league homer after 4,460 professional plate appearances. Dude’s ridden some buses. He’s had roommates who’ve talked in their sleep. He went from first-round draft pick to minor-league free agent. He earned this.
For all the talk about Melvin Upton and Drew Stubbs, it’s worth remembering that a) Marrero has the same first-round pedigree as those two, b) is younger, and c) is already here, so we might as well root for him. If he’s more Justin Maxwell than Michael Morse, that’s fine, we’ll figure it out soon enough.
Until then, it’s fun when the left fielders do something loud.
This was an add-on game. There’s almost nothing better than an add-on game. You get the tense feeling of a close game for the first few innings, but none of the diarrhea of the close game for the last few innings.
The first win of the season seemed like an add-on game, but then the Diamondbacks scored two runs in the next half-inning to stress everyone out. They did the same thing on Thursday night, with the Diamondbacks scoring one after the game was supposed to be out of reach.
This was not one of those games. After the Rockies grounded into their third double play of the fifth inning, they never scored again. More than that, the Giants needed just 43 pitches to get through the next four innings, and they allowed just one baserunner. While they were adding on, the Rockies were remembering they were in San Francisco. That’s a good combination.
(The Giants were 5-for-8 with runners in scoring position. I guarantee that’s going to screw me up when I’m looking through game logs to get some shocking, horrible 1-for-48 stats over a two-week stretch, but I’ll take it.)
Brandon Crawford was playing with a heavy heart, and I hope his home run made a lot of people feel better.
Baseball is good at that sometimes, and I hope this was one of those times.
Uh, we’re going to have to go to the judges on this one.
They said “maybe.” You heard it hear first.
JUDGES: wait, that’s not what we
But probably nah. It sure seems like The Wave with a lithium battery to me. Proceed with caution.
Meanwhile, in the category of “this stat affirms my preconceived beliefs,” Alex Pavlovic chimes in with a great stat:
Brandon Belt saw 35 pitches tonight. There's a ton of value in that.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) April 15, 2017
The add-on inning was the best example. Johnny Cueto (!) saw 10 pitches against Jake McGee, who looked thoroughly annoyed, which is only natural. Then Brandon Belt came up and saw 13 pitches before singling.
It was that single that got McGee out of the game, and it was that at-bat that has him thinking, “Why can’t I finish batters off? What is wrong with me?”
If that reads like psychological warfare, well, the Giants have about 375 games left against the Rockies this year, and they’re not as fortified against left-handers as they’d like, so I hope so.