All I want for the rest of this repugnant, funny-in-like-six-years season are the occasional oases. I’m less concerned about the Dodgers winning 45 out of their last 44 games. Less concerned with the Giants some how getting back to .500. Give me young players doing well. Give me a month-long hot stretch from a player or two that rebuilds my confidence.
Give me all of your walk-off wins.
Eduardo Nuñez had his first career walk-off hit, and the Giants won 2-1 on Tuesday night. They walked off against a tough Indians bullpen while I was busy looking up who their sixth reliever was and calculating how many innings it would take to get to him. Even though they screwed up in the ninth inning, I was still impressed with their at-bats against Cody Allen*. They looked even better in the 10th.
Still, let’s not pretend like it was a hyper-dominant victory. In order to score the one of the runs, Brandon Guyer had to attempt to catch a baseball with his face, and Buster Posey had to hit a ball off the very end of his bat. And they still almost screwed that up.
I’ll repeat myself every week: I’m rooting for the Giants to draft Buster Posey fifth overall in the draft, not Tim Beckham first. I’ll appreciate the wins as they trickle in and worry about next year next year. On the other hand, Nuñez getting thrown out would have been exceptionally funny. It would have been quite possibly the biggest brain fart of the season of the last two nights. I could have wrung six paragraphs out of it. Instead, I got just one.
In order to score the second run, Allen had to have an out-of-body experience on a bunt. Don’t care. It feels like a 12-1 win, the 10th straight. All I want are the oases. Give me the opponent screw-ups. Give me the swinging bunts and the accidental bunt hits. Give me more Conor Gillaspie heroics.
And, just so we’re entirely clear, give me every single one of the walk-offs.
Oh, and give me Ty Blach doing his thing. Apparently, his thing is to look like a Kirk Rueter with an extra five miles per hour on his fastball. A Kirk Rueter who discovered long toss and Tom Emanski’s Velocity Tips, Vol. IV? I’ll workshop that later, but give me control and command, breaking balls with a purpose, and balls hit to fielders who catch them. That’s what happened in Tuesday’s game. Blach looked like a pitcher who could be in the Giants’ rotation for a couple of years.
While Blach was pitching well, it was nearly impossible to enjoy because the Giants keep taking at-bats because the rules force them to. It’s hard to focus on the quality pitching because it’s sandwiched by five-pitch innings and pop flies and swinging strike threes. But we can sure appreciate it in retrospect, thanks to Gillaspie, Span, and Nuñez. It was a stupendous outing, just about the platonic idea of a Ty Blach start on a chilly Tuesday night. Plenty of innings, limited walks, limited strikeouts, and limited runs.
I want to bring one last thing to your attention. Here are all of the plate appearances that ended in a walk-off for the Giants in the San Francisco era (courtesy Baseball-Reference):
Giants walk-offs, 1958-2017
|Season||No. of walk-offs|
|Season||No. of walk-offs|
Now, these are just the plate appearances, so I’m missing some wild pitches, I think. But focus on the leader of the pack. That would be 1985. The team that lost more games than any other in franchise history sent everyone home happy more than any other team since moving to San Francisco. That’s beautiful. It’s a deal that I wouldn’t make before the season, but I’ll certainly take it now.
Which means the Giants have work to do for the last two-and-a-half months to catch up with the 1985 Giants. Just 11 more walk-offs. There’s something to shoot for.
Giants again have the winning run on third, this time with no outs. It's hard to screw that up.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) July 19, 2017
why would you tweet this, what is wrong with you
Because I pulled the screenshots already, I’d like to write a little bit about the bases loaded, one out situation in the ninth inning. It bugged me, but it bugged me in a very baseball way. The trick is to look at the first pitches — the “1”s — not the whole at-bat.
Here’s the first-pitch curveball to Hunter Pence:
The first-pitch fastball to Joe Panik:
And the first-pitch fastball to Gorkys Hernandez:
This is the most important point you can make about that ninth-inning: All three hitters put a good swing on a pitch they could have hit. That’s all you want, right? I’m sure in 25 years, the hot new stat will be some way to separate the people who foul off those pitches 63 percent of the time instead of 61 ... but for now, I’m willing to give them credit for the good swings on pitches to hit.
Also, they won the stupid game anyway.
Sam Dyson has a 2.98 ERA in 15⅓ innings since joining the Giants, with 13 strikeouts to five walks.
I don’t want him as closer any longer than he has to be. But he’s under contract for reasonable rates for a couple more years, and ... and ... I think I’m impressed with that move. He really did just need a change of scenery.
Unless 15⅓ innings is a brutally small sample size.
But I’m still drunk on walk-off nectar, so I’m letting this stick. Hooray for Sam Dyson and his two scoreless innings!