It’s me, Annoying Man, who gets to swing down from the rafters and tell you why this Giants extra-inning loss was actually good. It’s not my fault that you, Simple Baseball Fan, couldn’t see this game for the gift that it actually was because you were stuck on minor details like “wins” and “losses.”
Matt Moore pitched well. That’s all I care about.
Well, not all that I care about. I care about Joe Panik’s brain and Pablo Sandoval’s ability to pummel a baseball into the upper deck an hour before he can’t lay off a high fastball. I care about what Albert Suarez’s line would read if the Giants could score a run off Matt Albers, and how impressed we would be with the first inning he pitched.
The biggest takeaway, though, was Moore pitching as well as the Giants have hoped he would pitch all season. In and out, up and down. Fast and curvy-fast. A lack of dumb walks. Would it surprise you to know that it was Moore’s best start of the season? A-ha, you weren’t expecting ... okay, fine, you’d figured that out already. But it was. Season high in strikeouts by two. Just his fifth no-walk game. Seven innings pitched for just the seventh time in 24 starts.
It’s so very important for Matt Moore to return to form. The Giants’ plan to compete in 2018 is built on a very rickety foundation. Think of each player as a Jenga piece being slid back into place after the structure has already half-collapsed. I know the Giants are a Jenga tower that fell out of the window and into the mouth of a jabberwocky, but work with me. The Giants have a half-tower rebuilt, and now they’re figuring out how to rebuild the whole mess.
Moore has to be one of those bricks. Hoping for anything else is less realistic. Chris Stratton turning into a reliable mid-rotation starter? Seems like something after his performance today, but it’s less likely than Moore correcting whatever has gone wrong. Tyler Beede developing without any setbacks? Andrew Suarez establishing himself in time? Clayton Richard coming over and starring unexpectedly?
Whatever your situation is, it’s less likely than Moore pitching better than he has. That’s the story of the Giants on several levels, from Brandon Crawford to Hunter Pence to Johnny Cueto. But it’s especially true for Moore, and I’ll keep banging this drum until he’s removed from the rotation next May. Keep pitching him until it’s incredibly obvious that he’s not a major league starter. The Giants gave Tim Lincecum three more years after he was good, and they gave Matt Cain four. I’m okay with an extra three or four months for Moore.
The story might end with more starts like this. It doesn’t have to. Maybe it’s not even likely to. But you can understand why the Giants are going to keep planting this magic bean and hope for something more than beans.
The other long-term implication from this game had to do with Joe Panik, who was hit in the face with a baseball that ricocheted into the glove of the catcher, resulting in the most improbable out I’ve seen in years.
Hunter Pence drives in a run, but Joe Panik takes a hit to the face sliding into home and exits the game. pic.twitter.com/FvNd5OkDWO— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) August 14, 2017
It was, of course, a metaphor for the Giants season.
- Look, the ball wasn’t hit very well, which means the Giants didn’t really deserve anything good.
- There was still failure
- The other team was perfect
- The Giants were less than perfect.
- A player got hurt
- The Giants lost
- Matt Wieters looked in his mitt like, “Whoa, a baseball”
- A player got hurt
- The Giants lost
It was a Rube Goldberg machine of pain and failure, the most elaborate way to shove Giants in your face this season. If Panik were just a little faster (he wasn’t), if the ball were thrown anywhere else (it wasn’t), if the Giants could just do anything normal (they can’t) ... it all ended with Joe Panik hurt and the Giants without a run that could have won them the game.
Cut to the next inning, and Panik is giving himself the ol’ check-in, which seemed a little dicey.
Uhhh, hello, Giants ... what's going on here? pic.twitter.com/sCzDnpNRFP— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) August 14, 2017
If I see that and I’m the manager, I run out there and throw a burlap sack on Panik and take him to the cozy room. It doesn’t matter which cozy room. Find a room and make it cozy, then stick Panik in there for the rest of the night. Or week. Really, this season isn’t worth it.
Panik, to his credit, kept hitting, and with any justice, he would have been the scampering hero after taking second on a wild pitch in the ninth, then taking third on a sac fly. All Pablo Sandoval had to do was elevate just a little more, just a fraction of an inch more, to get that pop fly about 100 feet farther, and Panik would have been something of a manufactured-run hero.
As is, it turns out that he probably shouldn’t be in the game and nothing else matters.
Panik had slight headache late in game, won't play tomorrow.— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) August 14, 2017
While Panik thinks he’s fine, anthropomorphic sadness cloud Doug would like to remind you that Panik hit the game-winning homer after Matt Moore hit him in the head last year, too. The absence of bad news in the hours following a scary play like that doesn’t have to indicate the presence of good news. And I’m a little aghast that the Giants kept him in, even if he passed all the tests. What was the upside, a meaningless win, compared to the downside?
He’s probably fine. But still.
Pablo Sandoval hit ball far.
Sandoval's first homer since returning is an upper deck shot off Max Scherzer: pic.twitter.com/bVueTUUm21— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) August 14, 2017
He also made that out in the ninth, and, really, game-tying home runs to cause extra innings with the Giants losing anyway? Probably what got Conor Gillaspie removed from the roster. Look it up.
But I’m still okay with the experimental reunion. It’s been three years since his last okay season, but he’s also only had one full bad season since his last okay season.
It sure would have been a whole lot cooler story with just one more fly ball, though ...
Albert Suarez threw 27 pitches, 20 for strikes, and he faced seven batters. Two of those batters hit the ball hard. One of them was walked intentionally. Another one poked at a ball helplessly and got a single out of it. The other three were entirely helpless.
I’ll trade the outing as an incomplete, then. The box score will read an inning pitched and four earned runs, which is just brutal, but I saw 96 mph with a curveball he could command. The curve was up when Daniel Murphy hit it, and I’m not about to make excuses for the location on Howie Kendrick’s grand slam. But I was mostly impressed with Suarez as a short reliever after that 10th inning. He deserved better. He deserved to be the story of the late innings.
As is, he gets four earned runs and a 6.75 ERA on the season. Pitching is a tough racket, and I can’t recommend it.
There’s a picture of Benedict Cumberbatch at the top of my photo tool for some reason — it’s from a June game against the Braves — so, here, you figure it out.
This is basically me after every game:
Except I’m even more nonsensical and hokey. Thanks for reading, fokls.