We all remember that chilly fall evening late in 2016. We remember the optimism of having a pretty decent sized lead over the opponent. And we also remember the dawning horror as everything went wrong slowly, and then all at once.
Wait, I was talking about Game 4 of the NLDS, what did you think I was talking about?
Anyway, it didn’t have to be like that this year. It really didn’t. The Giants didn’t have to be eliminated from their division today. All they needed was for the Dodgers to lose and for them to win in order to live to be eliminated by a better team.
The Dodgers did their part and lost soundly.
The Giants even did their part, scoring more runs than their opponent early in the game. All they had to do was hold out against the Phillies. The Phillies. It shouldn’t have been that hard.
Well, maybe that’s a little unfair considering our own team. Anyway, as is wont to happen, the wheels flew off late in the game.
With a 2-1 lead in the top of the 8th, Hunter Strickland came in and struck out Freddy Galvis. Things were off to a good start. And then Strickland quickly allowed five consecutive hits and three runs.
This is about the time the fans turned on him. Look, I’m never one to advocate booing your own players, and generally I find it distasteful. However, Strickland has not endeared himself to a lot of Giants fans this year due to his antics against the Nationals, so it’s somewhat fitting that he was the pitcher of record when the Giants gave up the runs that would get them eliminated, and that he was booed heartily for it.
Once again, Madison Bumgarner pitched fairly well and lost because his team couldn’t score runs for him and his bullpen couldn’t hold a lead. Not that he was perfect, his pitch count was high early, reaching 100 with one out in the 6th. But he got the job done, racking up four strikeouts in the first two innings alone, on his way to seven for the day. He ended up pitching six innings of one-run ball while allowing only four hits and one walk. Better teams would love a start like that. Too bad, though, because he’s stuck with us and we’re not letting him go.
Mark Melancon came in in the 7th and pitched through traffic, but managed to get out of it, thanks in part to what became the theme of the game: People getting thrown out at the plate.
Early in the game, Buster Posey found out the hard way that he shouldn’t run on Pedro Florimon. Just as Nick Williams would later be taught not to run on Gorkys Hernandez.
And in the 7th, we had maybe the highlight play of the game, with a beautiful throw from Jarrett Parker and an absolute gem of a swipe tag by Posey at the plate to nab Cameron Perkins, with just milliseconds to spare.
Note to self:— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) August 20, 2017
Also worth noting, since we’re focusing on the good things in this game, Bumgarner scored one of his only two runs of support with an RBI shot to left field. At least we know who will take up the mantle of getting “Cain-ed” after Matt Cain leaves us.
What was interesting about this one though is that it came shortly after Posey was thrown out at the plate, and Florimon was once again the fielder. And this time it worked out.
Partially because it was Ryder Jones and not Posey. But also because the throw was off-line. It just goes to show you that coaching 3rd base is an impossible job and no one can get it right every time, but when they do, boy is it fun.
Madison Bumgarner gives the @SFGiants the lead!https://t.co/E8JdoW0m3f pic.twitter.com/ahDB2cXx3h— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) August 20, 2017
Another positive (for the Phillies) was that young rookie Rhys Hoskins, who is from Sacramento and grew up a Giants fan, continues to be outstanding. With his large gathering of friends and family in attendance, Hoskins scored twice today and hit a home run in the 9th to seal the Giants’ fate. Not that they needed it, as it is unlikely that the Giants will ever score again.
The Giants left eight runners on base. I feel like that’s important because there were ample opportunities for them to score runs, but as usual, they did not. I’m not sure you knew that about the 2017 Giants.
Rather than scoring runs, they instead hit into back-to-back-to-back inning ending double plays in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings. When faced with bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th, Pablo Sandoval struck out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 9th, with one out and two runners on, Hunter Pence hit into a fielder’s choice to the pitcher where Brandon Crawford was tagged out at, you guessed it, home plate.
What a mess. And what a fitting end to the Giants’ season.
Wait, what? What do you mean there’s still another six weeks of this?