The Giants defeated the Reds, 3-1, extending their season-long winning streak to two games. Do not laugh at the idea of a two-game winning streak. It’s real, and it’s spectacular.
Not only did the Giants win, but they did it in the best possible fashion. After playing a 17-inning game that wrapped around the mobius strip of time and returned, the bullpen needed a break. It would have been very, very 2017 Giants for Matt Moore to amble out to the mound and give up seven earned runs in two innings. It would have been the worst of all worlds.
Instead, Moore was phenomenal. Shaky at times, and he allowed more than a couple baserunners in the early innings, but he was everything the Giants needed him to be. It’s been rare for a Giants starter to go eight innings this season — this was just the third time in 38 starts that someone has gone that deep into the game — but this was perfect timing. Moore ate up innings, and he bent but didn’t break. It’s everything the Giants could have hoped for and just a sprinkle more.
We should probably take a moment to discuss just how important Moore is to the Giants’ future. Tyler Beede is having a rough start in Triple-A. Ty Blach is basically Kirk Rueter without a shed, and that’s fine. Chris Stratton is probably a reliever in the long term. Clayton Blackburn was inexplicably jettisoned. Joan Gregorio is having trouble throwing strikes in Triple-A. Andrew Suarez is off to a promising start, but he’s still in Double-A.
There is no cavalry coming. And while the market for starting pitchers is robust this offseason, it’s just as likely that the Giants lose Johnny Cueto as it is for them to spend big money on an obvious improvement.
The Giants need Matt Moore. You might not have been a fan of the trade, and you might still remember how painful that Skeeter tattoo really was, but we’re here now, and the Giants absolutely need Moore. He was acquired because he was young, cheap, and laden with great stuff, and that should translate into wins in a couple of different ways. All he needs to do is pitch well.
Instead, he’s been erratic as all heck this season. One of those two eight-inning starts up there was Moore’s, so it’s not like we haven’t seen this before this season. He can be so very good. He can remind us all why some publications ranked him over Mike Trout when they were prospects, even if that ranking didn’t age well. But he’ll lose his release point and florrrp, there goes the game. Which is a metaphor for the 2017 Giants, really.
In this game, though, he was absolutely necessary. A bullpen game here would have screwed up Sunday, which would have screwed up Monday, which would have screwed up Tuesday and Wednesday. The horrors of a short start would have lingered for a week.
So it was good for the Giants in the short term to see Moore succeed. It’s especially good for the long term, too. There’s no player yoked to the fortunes of the Giants quite like him. And when an entire pitching staff was desperate for him to shoulder a heavy burden, he did it.
That’s right. I’m making Matt Moore my Four Roses Player of the Game. Please send me free bourbon. And, also, Moore was really good. Not all of the hits and runners were his fault, and he handled them with aplomb.
Justin Ruggiano hit a home run. You might not think that’s a tremendous accomplishment, except let’s rank the Giants’ bench players by home runs:
Aaron Hill - 1
Michael Morse - 1
Chris Marrero - 1
Everyone else - 0
Three homers from the bench, and that’s overlooking that a couple of those guys were starting for a while. It’s been a rough slog. Some teams will have benchies hit three homers in April by themselves, and it’s totally found money. The Giants haven’t had that. It’s one of the reasons for the death spiral.
Here, then, is Ruggiano, who is much better than you think. He’s 35, so he’s not exactly pining for the starting job that’s always eluded him, so his expectations are tempered. He tends to hit wherever he goes, though.
.313/.374/.535 in 320 plate appearances for the 2012 Marlins
.281/.337/.429 in 250 plate appearances for the 2014 Cubs
Heck, yeah, the Giants can use that kind of depth.
.291/.350/.618 in 60 plate appearances for the 2015 Dodgers
Okay, that’s enough pal. But the larger point is that when Ruggiano is healthy, he hits. He’s on the older side, so I’m not going to guarantee continued success. But, really, age and health are the only points against him. When he’s healthy, he hits.
Considering the Giants have cycled through a couple right-handed fifth outfielders who didn’t hit a lick, this is a welcome development. Start him against lefties whenever you can, and ride the hot streak until it ends. I’m a fan.
My favorite part about this Brandon Belt home run? It came in a 1-2 count:
Belt has been a bit of a dud over the last couple weeks, even if I still consider the Belt Wars over and suggest we eradicate the insurrectionists. Slumps happen! Doesn’t mean I’m super stoked about called third strikes and swing-throughs, either.
1-for-3, with a walk and a homer. Yeah, I know that guy. He’s pretty good. If you’re not a weirdo.
Ah, but it was a solo home run. Because they all are. And just to prove that it’s not all in your head, I’ve done some research. Here is the solo home run percentage for every team in baseball this year.
Solo home run percentage
|Team||Home runs||Solo home runs||Percentage||OBP rank|
|Team||Home runs||Solo home runs||Percentage||OBP rank|
There’s a caveat here, because this includes the Giants’ Saturday output, but not the Saturday total for any other teams. The other caveat is that a team’s OBP can understandably play a part in these things.
Still, the Giants are lapping the field. The answer as to why is “luck” and “timing” and “dammit so much.” They could stand to make fewer outs, and that would improve their fortunes, but they’re still more than a sliver unlucky when it comes to the timing of their homers.
On the other hand, they’re actually hitting homers. They’ve hit at least one homer in six games, which ... isn’t that rare. But that doesn’t mean they can’t chase the record of 19 consecutive games with a homer, set in 1947. Or the San Francisco record of 16, set in 1962 and 1963.
Just keep the homers coming, in other words. The two- and three-run homers will follow.
Hooray, Matt Moore!