The Giants lost the game. They lost the series. They looked bad doing it. And I want to unpack this tweet just a little bit because it explains nearly everything:
Bochy said that Giants would have requested replay of Bryant's HR but phone wasn't working— Chris Haft/SF Giants (@sfgiantsbeat) May 25, 2017
Kris Bryant hit a home run because he’s a much better hitter than anyone on the Giants. That’s the biggest takeaway, here. While I love Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford, and you know I stand with Brandon Belt against the heretics, for they are legion, it’s easy to get Cubs envy. They have better players. It’s possible for them to rest all of their starters and have a much better lineup than the Giants, and that’s not hyperbole.
C - Willson Contreras
C - Miguel Montero
1B - Anthony Rizzo
2B - Javier Baez
SS - Addison Russell
3B - Kris Bryant
INF/OF - Ben Zobrist
OF - Kyle Schwarber
OF - Ian Happ
OF - Jason Heyward
OF - Jon Jay
OF - Albert Almora
That’s their current roster of hitters. Sit the best four. Bryant, Rizzo, and the two wild cards of your choice. It’s still better than the starting lineup for the Giants today.
That’s the cold reality. The Giants’ starting pitcher was much better, if a whole lot unluckier, but just focus on the lineups, and the talent gap is breathtaking. The Cubs are a contending team, and the Giants don’t look a whole lot like them right now.
While that should be bad enough, dumb stuff keeps happening. The phone broke. The phone broke.
That meant that a home run that probably was going to be a home run anyway couldn’t be reviewed. We’re up to two things that are the Giants’ fault (not having a Kris Bryant of their own, and Jeff Samardzija allowing a home run) and a couple things that are completely unexpected and dumb (a fan reaching out over the catch-drunk-people’s-things net, or even that abominable net existing at all, and a phone being broken).
That’s the 2017 Giants’ season, alright: several parts being worse than the other team, a couple parts baseball being unexpected and dumb.
Can I interest you in a third unexpected and dumb thing? Bryant hit a 95-mph first-pitch fastball that was on his fists:
That goes back to the first point, where he’s also better than everyone else, but it’s all a rich tapestry. And let’s not pretend like this one home run, even if the play were overturned, would have made the difference. The Giants lost by four, and they played poorly, getting picked off with a runner on first and one out, giving up 0-2 hits, and letting two runs score on a bases-loaded wild pitch with two outs.
The Giants exhibiting a bad process that turns into a bad result that turns into comedy is just so 2017.
The most frustrating part of the afternoon — other than the two-run wild pitch, perhaps — was that the Giants were absolutely not fooled by Cubs starter Eddie Butler. Each of the first five batters walloped the ball, and they got only one run out of it. The Giants struck out once all game, and the Cubs struck out 10 times.
Or, to put it another way, Eddie Butler allowed one run and four hits in five innings. The Cubs pulled him with 69 pitches because he looked like he was getting shelled. Balls were flying all over the place. The only problem was that there were mitts all over the place. If you think this is boo-hooing, a) you probably didn’t see the barrage of line drives, because, cripes, there were a lot of them, and b) you’re bothered a lot less by games like this if there are more line drives in the other games. Which there haven’t been.
Still, it wasn’t the twist of fate they needed. Consider that according to FanGraphs the Giants have seen the second-toughest pitchers in baseball. Maybe their stats are inflated because they got to see the Giants, but the numbers suggest that teams like the Mets and Reds have had a much easier time when it comes to the pitchers they’ve faced. Because they’ve also played the Giants. But let’s keep going.
The Giants didn’t face an ace today. They didn’t meet up with one of baseball’s best. They got Eddie Butler, and they hit him like he’s a pitcher with a career 6.26 ERA. Which he is. It still didn’t matter. The one time they get to step out and not face a Lester or a Hendricks, they do what they’re supposed to, and it still doesn’t work.
Josh Osich had a left-handed hitter 0-2 with two outs and a runner on first, and he allowed two runs to score after that. It was an infield hit that kept the inning alive after the 0-2 single, and it was a wild pitch that brought the runs in.
Three parts screw-up, one part oh-of-course.
Jeff Samardzija has 79 strikeouts and 11 walks this season. His strikeout total leads the NL, and everything but his ERA has been a pleasant surprise this year. He allowed three homers, though. One of them came on a biffed strike call to Jason Heyward that turned a 1-2 count into a 2-1 count.
Three parts screw-up, one part oh-of-course.
That’s the Giants, alright. They wouldn’t be an especially good team if they had great luck, but they’re also excelling at having dumb things happen when everyone will notice the most. And when they do get the dumb luck (see: Heyward’s interference call on Wednesday), they squander it.
The Cubs beat the Giants three times in a row, and they did it because they were the better team. I wanted to believe after that first game, I really did. I’m just not sure how it’s even remotely possible to complete with teams like the Cubs right now. If Madison Bumgarner were healthy and Johnny Cueto were rolling, I could almost see a path.
As is, nope. They probably deserve to lose three out of every four to the Cubs in Chicago until further notice.