When the hellmouth of the top of the sixth inning opened up and swallowed the Giants whole, the mood was blissfully unaware. I miss that innocence. The Giants had scored three runs — in one inning! — to take a two-run lead, and it looked like they were going to win in a classic Giants-Padres way. The only way for either team to win in this divisional rivalry is to annoy the heck out of the other team. It’s in the treaty.
Then came the hellmouth. The Giants haven’t scored eight runs in a game for two weeks. They allowed eight runs in one inning on Saturday night. They needed a double play that would never come, and a third out that eventually did, but only when it was cloaked in sadness.
The Giants have topped out at five runs in over the last 13 games. The distribution of runs for them since they scored as many runs as the Padres scored in the top of the sixth inning:
5 runs - 1
4 runs - 3
3 runs - 2
2 runs - 2
1 run - 2
0 runs - 3
That is one hard team to watch.
The Giants strung together hits in the bottom of the fifth inning. Can you imagine? Strung together hits to score three runs, like a normal team. It was invigorating to see them string hits together, tying the game, taking the lead. That’s what normal teams do to win.
Then came the hellmouth.
Yes! It does work as a catchphrase. The hellmouth opened up and swallowed the Giants whole. I can’t stress that enough.
Yes, the hellmouth was fearsome.
Okay, you’re laying these catchphrases on a little thick.
The hellmouth opened in the top of the sixth inning, again. If it were a postseason game, Terry Francona would have brought in Andrew Miller. It was late enough in the game to worry about which relievers would protect the lead best. Bruce Bochy went to Chris Stratton, who ...
- Was excellent in a three-inning sting in Coors Field
- Hadn’t pitched in a week
- Has limited short-relief experience
The last time we saw Stratton, he was the only bright spot in a miserable Coors Field special, to the point where I pretended like he was the second coming of Robb Nen, just because it was too much of a drag to think about the rest of the game. There was promise there, though.
That promise had the day off. Stratton kept leaking fastballs over the plate, to the point where Bochy had to remove him to limit the damage. The damage was not limited. It was an uninspiring outing.
Then Neil Ramirez came in and pitched his way off the roster. I get the spring performance and the FIP and the xFIP and the minor-league numbers, but we have several innings of evidence to suggest he can’t fool major league hitters. The Giants essentially chose him over Clayton Blackburn, and I’m pretty sure that decision isn’t going to age well. He can clearly miss bats, and I worry about overreacting to a small sample, but the control is too dodgy to trust. He pried open the hellmouth with his bare hands and jammed his torso in it to keep it open.
Could the Giants have won if they had gone with a more established duo to pitch in the sixth? Maybe. It’s not like I would have taken it easy on George Kontos or Cory Gearrin if either of them had blown the lead, so let’s not pretend like Bochy kept 2011 Sergio Romo in the bullpen.
But while it was an unusual call to go with Stratton, it wasn’t that wacky. He had some get-some-work-in tokens that needed to be redeemed, and his previous outing suggested that he could throw an inning without screwing up.
Instead, he screwed it up. And he brought along Neil Ramirez, who was left out on the mound to think about what he had done. Ramirez threw 52 pitches, which is cruel and unusual punishment for everyone involved. You, me, him. No one came out ahead.
Mostly, though, it made me wistful for a Giants offense that could score runs like that. Look at this arrogant ass from last year:
The Giants have scored 12 runs or more in three games this season. The 2003 Giants, who had Barry Bonds and won 100 games, did it twice.— Grant Brisbee (@mccoveychron) April 27, 2016
The 2017 Giants might not do it once. Instead, they had to watch the Padres do it to them with a team made from Tecmo Baseball castoffs. The Padres scored 12 runs in this game; the Giants haven’t combined for 12 runs in back-to-back games since the second and third games of the season, when we had hope and weren’t dead inside.
The Giants have won two games in a row once this season. This was the 25th game of the year.
It’s possible that the Giants aren’t very good. Note that every pitcher for the Padres in this game finished the game with an ERA of 5.25 or worse. Doesn’t matter. Still awful.
Matt Cain was fine, even if he still gives me the 2012 Barry Zito April vibes, and I’m proud of the Giants for scoring four runs.
But it’s possible that the Giants aren’t very good. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
Note: The Dodgers hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to come back in the ninth inning of their game*. The Giants have hit three home runs in the last week, and they haven’t hit three home runs in any 18-inning stretch this season. Just thought you weren’t feeling gloomy enough.
* Additional note: The Giants haven’t come back in the ninth inning of any game since May, 2015. This is an actual baseball fact, and I’ll keep using it until morale improves.