For the first two months of the season, the only thing that was keeping me from writing “The Giants are the worst offensive team in baseball” was the existence of the Royals. I always had to add the caveat that they were just the worst run-scoring team in the National League, not baseball. Because the Royals, yeesh, don’t look them directly in the eyes. They were that bad.
They got better.
And, I’m telling you, the Giants will get better. There will be a two-week stretch that boosts their overall numbers, and they’ll seem normal again. Do not fall for it. All that stretch will do is hose their draft position. They will not be a better team. They will not be closer to a future postseason. They’ll only be ruining their chances to get the next Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg or Delmon Young. But it’s going to happen, and I’ll forget about this paragraph and these feelings, and I’ll pretend that it’s good news.
Ty Blach stepped in the earned-run pit, and he was consumed by earned runs, slithering all about his torso and feasting, until nothing remained. We will miss him.
Blach’s ERA is up over 4.00 again, and there’s nearly a half-run separation between his FIP and his ERA now. When a pitcher’s K/9 is under 4.00, and his fielding-independent stats are suggesting he’s unlucky with balls in play, that’s extremely impressive.
And, yes, Blach was getting shafted by the BABIPdook. Balls just under a glove, balls just over a glove. Balls just in front of a fielder, balls that died before a fielder could get them. This was a cruel, cruel game for someone who pitched much better.
This is the part where I patiently explain how Blach was unlucky, how this was a fluke that isn’t going to happen often. Except, nope, this might be the other part of the Faustian bargain. Live by the ball in play, die by the ball in play. There will be games in which Blach will look like a danged wizard, with grounders going right to Brandon Crawford and/or Joe Panik. There will be two strikeouts and two runs in seven innings, and you’ll think, man, that Ty Blach is something.
And then there will be starts like this, in which all the batted balls are absolute buttheads. They’ll come, unbidden, and there isn’t anything you can do to spray for them. This is the cost of a pitcher like Blach, and you either deal with it or chase that strikeout dragon again.
I’m mostly okay with it. We’ll see if I feel the same way when he has one of these starts in the stretch run of a tight divisional race. (Probably. I like Ty Blach.)
But it’s not just the eight runs the Royals scored that concern me. It’s the one run the Giants scored. The Giants were 5-for-39 on the night (with two walks!) and two players combined for four of those hits. Jason Vargas, even though he is in his 30s and has a long career of being completely ordinary, if effective, is apparently Steve Carlton now. The Giants turn everyone Steve Carlton or Tom Seaver, but Vargas has been doing this to everyone in baseball all season.
Still. Hit a damned ball. I could have called a friend from college, but I watched this game instead. Convince me I made the right decision, even for a few seconds.
If there’s a consolation prize it’s that Buster Posey had two of those hits, as did Austin Slater. This whole season could go down in flames — more so — and a couple of .350 seasons from those two would go a long way toward making up for it. I can’t tell you how tickled I am that Slater has continued his high-average, gap-to-gap ways in the majors. It hints at the possibility that the Giants aren’t wrong, but that their disciples are just really bad at executing the gameplan right now.
That’s actually a really good scenario. It allows for a future with the same players, just doing better. You know, like they were supposed to.
In the interim, the Giants are still bad. They were going to be good, but Kevin Durant joining the Warriors tipped the cosmic abacus over, and things are going to be higgledy-piggledy for a while. There might be a future in which we cheer a rejuvenated Joe Panik and Hunter Pence, when both Brandons are raking, when Austin Slater becomes the first left fielder to start two consecutive Opening Days since Barry Bonds, and it will make so much sense.
That future is not now.
In the present, the Giants lost 8-1 to the Royals, and it was absolutely fugly.
Also, I’m pretty sure leopard sharks don’t just chill on the surface of the water, looking for a fight. There was something wrong with this one, and it will probably be dead before you wake up tomorrow.
Not to bum you out or anything.
Aw, dammit, I did it again, didn’t I?
Also, the Giants lost to the Royals, 8-1.