The first inclination is to make this The Jarrett Parker Game. The Giants left fielder hit a two-run homer and finished off a double play with a brilliant throw to home. He’s contributed more in the last three games than he did in the first four months of the season, and it’s been a treat to watch. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a starter, but I don’t really care right now. He was good against the Diamondbacks, who stole the Giants’ season this year and should not be forgiven. Parker agrees that they should not be forgiven.
Except, hold on, maybe this is The Jeff Samardzija Game. He had another quality start, this time walking as many as he struck out, just to mix things up, just to make us wonder if he would somehow be better if he walked more batters and struck out fewer. That makes absolutely no sense on any level, but neither does Samardzija’s season. Him pitching well and picking up a win that he’s had coming to him is a fine development.
Except, whoa, wasn’t the true revelation just how well Albert Suarez pitched for a 2⅓-inning save? Suarez was throwing in the mid-90s with a curveball that froze Diamondbacks hitters regularly. The late innings were calm because of how well he pitched. So we should focus on those innings if we’re going to title-case a name for this game. Could have been The Albert Suarez Game.
The correct answer, then, is to label this A Very Good Game. Other teams get to have these regularly. We’ve just forgotten. The Giants received several contributions from all over the place — offense, defense, starting pitching, the bullpen — and it led to a convincing win against a contending team.
We’ll start with Parker, who hit a homer against a left-handed pitcher and ended a would-be rally with his arm. He’s hitting .265/.306/.500 now, which is roughly my best-case projection for him. Just enough power, just enough patience, and just enough contact to be something more valuable than we could have expected a few years ago. I’m still bearish, but it’s hard to stick with that after a weekend like this. Parker slid to save runs over the weekend, and he threw home to save a run in this game. He was instrumental in the comeback on Saturday night, and he was instrumental in the win on Sunday.
I still want to see him in center fielder, but I’m more interested in the idea that he can be a valuable contributor soon, even if it’s as a fourth outfielder.
It’s probably not fair to compare Parker to someone like Ben Gamel, who is three years younger, but it’s not not fair. Sometimes, plus-power players overcome their other limitations and turn into something more. Maybe it doesn’t end with an All-Star appearance, but it can last for a couple years. Considering that we had mentally moved on to Chris Marrero and miscast Eduardo Nuñez at different points this year, I’m more than fine with that.
While I’m not going to pretend that this was Jeff Samardzija’s best game of the year, it was one of the few games were his efforts were rewarded with a win. It’s not that you should care about win-loss records, but they’re useful as shorthand descriptions of what went wrong with a team’s season. Samardzija hasn’t won a bunch of games, and that’s because of a regular team effort to hose him. In this game, he was fine but imperfect, but the team picked him up. And how.
The three walks were unusual, and the insistence on keeping Samardzija in the game from Bruce Bochy reminded me of this Ahmed Fareed segment:
Maybe seven full innings aren’t always the ultimate goal? I don’t know. It all worked out, so it’s not the time to grumble.
Especially when the bullpen threw well enough to prevent grumbling. Cory Gearrin has a sketchy BB/9 mark right now, and there isn’t enough time for it to go away by the end of this season. But it’s worth noting that it was some early wildness that really jimmied with the overall numbers — nine walks in 7⅔ innings from April 21 to May 7 — and he’s been fine since. Still a touch wild. But fine.
He hit Brandon Drury in the bill of the helmet, though, so maybe this wasn’t the best place to start explaining how effective the Giants’ bullpen was.
Josh Osich was effective, getting exactly one out, even as I was screaming, “THERE GOES THE BALLGAME. GREAT, JUST GREAT,” which probably wasn’t fair.
The story of the game, really, was Albert Suarez, who gave the Giants innings and effectiveness, striking out three with nary a walk, allowing just one hit in 2⅓ innings. It’s slightly hyperbolic to suggest that he’s perfectly suited for a new, late-inning role, but the velocity is there. The breaking stuff is there. The command is there. I’m not sure what the argument is against it working, other than it hasn’t been tried yet.
Relievers have come from stranger places. Much stranger places. And this was an outing that suggested the Giants should try Suarez in more late-inning situations as they see fit, because that would make a much bigger difference than making him the latter-day Yusmeiro Petit.
Regardless, in a baseball game filled with surprises (helllloooo, pair of Buster Posey stolen bases), the Giants got positive signs from up and down the roster.
And they took a series against the Diamondbacks, who look like they’re forever wearing the jerseys from a baseball movie with a $30 million budget. We should root for the Giants winning and against the Diamondbacks winning. I’ve been saying this for years.
I’m glad you finally see it my way.