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Giants lose series finale to Cardinals, 8-3

The Giants avoided the sweep. One of these series, we’ll get a nice series-win sandwich to help us feel good.

San Francisco Giants v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Highlights from Sunday’s game included the following:

  • Two shrines discovered
  • One memory reacquired
  • 47 keese slaughtered, with their wings severed and carried around with me, along with 372 different monster parts and 600 pounds of raw meat, just in case
  • One horsie ride

When it comes to the Giants game, though, it gets a little trickier. There were two home runs. George Kontos had a ninth inning. But I’ll be honest, after Randal Grichuk’s bases-clearing double, I picked up Zelda to play during commercials, and then that sort of stretched into the innings, and, well, I’ll be frank: This isn’t going to be a recap that makes you think about baseball in a brand new way.

Matt Cain pitched like a bad fifth starter, which is pretty much what he’ll do every other time. In his last start, he had an outing that looked great on the surface, even though there were signs that we should still expect ups and downs. I wrote ...

There won’t be a lot of eight-inning, one-run outings (from Cain). What you hope for, then, are a lack of two-inning, six-run outings to make up for it.

Instead Cain had a 5⅓-inning, seven-run outing. The only reason it wasn’t a complete disaster is because he ate a few innings after a 13-inning game, at least. But it wasn’t pretty. Of Cain’s 103 pitches, the Cardinals swung and missed at four of them, which is more than a little discouraging.

While I’m almost tempted to cut him some slack for this ...

... it’s also proof of just how unintimidated major league hitters are with his stuff. If you swing at that pitch from Jeff Samardzija, you might end up in the ER.

The good news? There’s a chance Cain will have a 5⅓-inning, one-run outing next time. If the games like this start to dominate, becoming the rule rather than the exception, the Giants will have some decisions to make. As is, every team in baseball, save a couple, will have feelings like this every five games, at least. Welcome to Fifth Starterville, population: occasional losses that aren’t very competitive. This isn’t going to change, even if the pitchers do.

Sunday’s game didn’t take away from the fact that the Giants took a series from the Dodgers, then went on the road and took a series from the Cardinals. The last week has been the best week of baseball this season, without question, so there’s no sense complaining about losing a series finale pitched by the fifth starter.

The Giants avoided the sweep, of course, because that’s what they do. It’s hard to sweep anyone, especially a team as talented as the Dodgers Cardinals, but it’s clearly the least favorable of all the possible series-win scenarios.

  1. Win-win-win
  2. Loss-win-win
  3. Win-loss-win
  4. Win-win-loss

The outcome is good, sure, but there’s more trudging involved before the next series. The suitcase is just a little heavier. There’s regret. There are what-ifs. What if Clayton Kershaw Adam Wainwright were three inches taller and could shoot a 3-pointer, for instance? Things like that.

And maybe I just recycled that from last time, but it’s not like you can blame me.

The Giants hit two home runs. The Cardinals hit just one. You would think this is a positive stat, but, no, you know how this works. The Cardinals got two runs with their homer. The Giants got two runs with their two homers. This is how the 2017 season has gone.

Brandon Crawford and Eduardo Nuñez’s home runs extended the solo-homer streak to 15, which is still six homers away from what the 2011 Giants did. According to Henry Schulman, that stretch was a major league record, so consider me retroactively proud. The last time the Giants had a homer with a runner on base was when Hunter Pence hit one in the first inning against the Mets on May 8.

To put it another way, the Giants have 43 RBI on 35 homers this year. The Red Sox have 59 RBI on 38 homers this year. This is what normal teams do when they hit home runs, and while OBP has something to do with it, it’s pretty constant, even with the teams that don’t get on base a lot. A home run should be worth, on average, 1.65 runs. The Giants have got that all the way down to 1.22, and it feels like Brandon Belt hitting a grand slam in a game they lost shouldn’t count.

The breakdown of home runs:

Solo HR (29)
Two-run HR (5)
Three-run HR (0)
Grand slam (1)

It’s one thing to not hit homers. It’s another to get freaky with the distribution of homers that score just one run. Stop that, Giants.

Here, let’s watch the last three-run homer. Maybe that will help.

That was a fun game! Miss u, three-run homer.

Of the 40 homers the Giants have allowed, 16 of them have been with at least one runner on, in case you were wondering. That’s 63 RBI on 40 home runs. Which is a normal ratio.

There is no call to action. There are no suggestions. This is just One of Those Things™. The Giants have been weird with their home runs this year. It stings more because they were already hoping to win with a razor-thin power margin.

On to Chicago, where the fans are freaking out because their team is just a little bit over .500. Here’s hoping the Giants keep them freaking out and keep us confused.