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Giants claim their first moral victory of the year in sixth straight loss to Rockies

A bad team will lose in an entertaining fashion sometimes and tonight was one of those times. Thanks, Coors Field!

San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

A ninth inning comeback. A three-run home run. Exciting plays at the plate. The Giants are so bad they’re not worth your precious time, and yet in the last few innings of tonight’s game, they did something they’ve rarely done all season: be entertaining. Now, that’s not some sort of advertisement for them. They did, after all, lose minutes after tying it up, and I don’t recommend you come back tomorrow night and give away 3+ hours of your valuable life to a Jeff Samardzija in Coors Field start, but for about 55 minutes tonight they were compelling enough to make you forget that they are the worst team in baseball*.

Matt Moore was Matt Moore, burying his teammates alive before they even had time to realize they were in a hole in the ground, and the Rockies built up a big lead in their home park with everyone in their lineup demonstrating the ability to put together solid professional at bats and drive the ball, really taking advantage of the thin air and hot weather. It was very much like most games this season in that it felt like it was over early. But then there was, essentially, a third act twist! After losing Eduardo Nunez and Buster Posey in the same inning, the Giants came all the way back from a 9-1 deficit to tie the game.

Gorkys Hernandez (!) hit a medium fly ball to Charlie Blackmon in the top of the ninth off of the Rockies’ perfect closer, Greg Holland, and I bolted off the couch and bellowed, “DO IT!” actually thinking that Phil Nevin would feel this urgent plea and send Austin Slater. I had nothing to do with Phil Nevin sending Austin Slater to score the tying run, of course, but in that moment I was caught up in the game. It was the first time in months when there was actual suspense.

The only suspense remaining in the Giants’ season involves their draft position which is directly related to how many losses they’ll record before it’s all said and done. They will very likely lose 100+ games and we’ll all hate every single person wearing the uniform for the remainder of the calendar year, but there will very occasionally be moments like tonight when we will hate them slightly less and forget that spending 3+ hours watching our favorite loser team lose really kinda stinks.

‘*’ - the worst team in baseball because their intention was to be good, and yet everything has gone so wrong for them that they are among the worst, record-wise, and quite possibly the absolute worst talent and depth-wise.

The reason why there’s no point in watching the Giants is because there’s not much to look forward to. The Giants are very likely in need of a full rebuild and that’s just not something ownership is prepared to do nor the front office prepared for, so in the meantime we’re going to be stuck with these immutable truths: the Giants have no luck, no focus, and no talent. Tonight had perfect examples representative of the entire season:

No Luck...

Trevor Story’s amazing, rally-killing catch knocked the wind out of him and took the wind out of the Giants’ tattered sails. At least in the early going. Just more of the same, but something that has felt all too common in 2017: if there’s a tough play to be made against the team, it’ll be made. This is not to take away from Story’s tremendous talent. It’s just the Giants’ luck that he’s more talented.

Losing 2 of the 3 best hitters on the team is surely bad luck, so for the sake of my point here, let’s just consider no luck and bad luck to be synonyms.

NOT PICTURED: The replay review confirming the OUT call on Denard Span at home plate in the top of the ninth inning. Maybe his left toe got in there before the tag on his right foot. Anyway, I have Eeyore’d myself into accepting that replay reviews will always bone the Giants for the rest of my life, even when that’s not true, but tonight was a case where a “50/50 call” going there way was just the luck they’d need. Of course it didn’t happen.

No Focus...

Now here’s where it gets interesting. The Giants made some mental mistakes tonight -- Buster Posey made mental mistakes tonight...

(not pictured: the passed ball / launched ball into centerfield error Posey made an inning later)

Now, Hunter Pence in this above instance might’ve been victim to the lights or the setting sun or a combination of the two, which appears to have been a problem for Gold Glover D.J. LeMahieu later in the game, too, so it’s perhaps unfair to label this a mental mistake on Pence’s part (it’s also Coors Field), but at the same time, misjudging a fly ball can also be the result of your fellow teammate sucking butt on the mound and you losing focus and in that split second you misjudge that ball.

The Giants being bad compounds their mistakes because the fog of losing interferes with focus. That idea seems to track from where I’m sitting, and tonight’s gaffes are hardly unique this season. Stuff like this typically gets pinned on the players and the manager, but given the track record of all involved, the criticism is unlikely to flow in that direction despite whatever evidence may pile up on their doorsteps (and make no mistake, there are piles forming, folks. Definite piles!)

No Talent.

I don’t know what Matt Moore believes is happening, but he simply can’t throw the pitch anywhere near his target. Posey is reaching back across the middle of the plate to catch a perfectly thrown fastball directly into Nolan Arenado’s wheelhouse. In the previous pitch, Posey setup way away from the plate and Moore missed his spot by almost three feet off the plate.

Todd Wellemeyer was pumping 94 mph fastballs and sharp sliders all the way through his very last game as a Giant and they cut him anyway because of ineffectiveness and then his career was over. All that to say that pitchers really do come and go and one day they’re good and the next day they’re gone. Is Matt Moore gone? The Giants invested too much in the trade that brought him onto this team of the damned, so it’s unlikely they’ll cut ties with him soon — and he certainly has zero trade value — but something’s gotta give. Not that a 100-loss team with one of the worst farm systems in professional sports has any alternatives, it’s just simply a painful and borderline embarrassing experience for both player and team running him out there every fifth day right now.

Eduardo Nunez and Buster Posey have both been playing well, particularly over the past 30 or so days, so it made perfect sense when they both got hurt after starting a rally. Both of them seemed to get hurt being good, too (Nunez using his plus speed to run out a grounder for an infield hit, Posey bashing a home run), which also feels right. The reports indicate both players might miss a couple of days each, and let’s hope it stays right there. The Giants are unwatchable with both in the lineup. They will be an ocular disease without either of those guys.

I believe Bruce Bochy’s range of reactions to watching Buster Posey limp off the field sums it up best:

Final thoughts...

  • As someone who thinks Brandon Crawford’s bat speed has diminished and is no longer an All-Star caliber player, he sure did hit the Giants’ first three-run home run of the season off a tough left-handed pitcher.
  • Hunter Strickland is my least favorite player and Major League Baseball has yet to respond to his suspension appeal for being an absolute idiot, and on some level I’d like to believe the delay is because the league is trying to figure out how to increase the length of suspension without ticking off the Players’ Union; however, by happenstance, I was listening the radio pregame show with Bochy and he said that the delay in the appeal response had sort of disrupted his bullpen management and part of the reason why he’s worked Strickland so much recently (he’s pitched 5 of the last 6 six calendar days) was in anticipation of a suspension, so, tonight wasn’t so much Strickland’s fault as it was Bochy/the league’s fault. Still, Hunter Strickland has certainly earned the right to be the focus of fan rage and league ire because he’s promoted himself as a bully who puts himself before his team. But as has been the case ever since Memorial Day, putting himself first there has really boned the Giants since.
  • Austin Slater had 4 hits, all singles, which makes him an above average paradigm of the perfect Giants hitter. Despite the lack of power, he looked good at the plate, was aggressive but not reckless, and he didn’t look uncertain running down flyballs. The real test will be over the next few days as Samardzija, Cain, and Ty Blach throw pitches that get put in play. Lots more running, I’d imagine.

Speaking of Ty Blach:

He’s going to make Bruce Bochy fall in love with him if he keeps demonstrating Swiss Army knife-like capabilities. Forget the strikeout rate — he works quickly and can handle a bat!

  • Tomorrow, it’s Jeff Samardzija gets the start. He pinch hit tonight, you know. His mere presence induced the wild pitch that led to Denard Span getting tagged out at home plate.