clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Giants walk off against Rockies, 4-3

I’ve seen this game between these two teams before. And that’s what made it so fun.

Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

There is a natural order to things when it comes to the Giants and Rockies. The Giants go to Coors Field and lose 9-8 after a five-run Rockies rally in the late innings. The Rockies come to AT&T Park and score three runs or fewer, only to lose on a bunch of infield singles.

Violations of this natural order lead to some weird consequences. In 2010, the Rockies had a three-game winning streak at AT&T Park. In 2014, the Rockies swept a series at AT&T. Both times, the Giants were awarded championships in a baseball-god perversion of NCAA violations. Do not mess with the natural order.

And speaking as someone who still wakes up in the middle of the night shrieking Neifi Perez’s name, I hope the Rockies miss the postseason by a single game and think back to this game before any of the other 161 on the schedule. Because here’s how the Giants won:

  • Pablo Sandoval infield single
  • Ryder Jones sac-bunt-turned-infield single
  • Kelby Tomlinson slapper
  • Sac fly

You aren’t thinking about this, necessarily. The Giants won, and there was a big scrum, and someone threw water on Hunter Pence, and it was so much fun, everyone. The hows and whys aren’t as important as the end result. But Rockies fans are livid. Livid. This favor is returned when the Rockies score four runs in the bottom of the ninth and Giants fans have foam coming out of their ears, and Rockies fans are like, “What? That’s just how baseball is!”, so we’re owed this one. Eternally.

That doesn’t mean that the Rockies are somehow rendered unannoying when they come to San Francisco. D.J. LeMahieu is a rash on the inside of the Giants’ scalp, and he will always make some sort of absurd play because he hates you. Gerardo Parra is worth 1.9 dWAR in his career, and exactly 1.84 of that has come against the Giants. He has thrown out 487 different Giants runners in his career, and he needs to be traded to the Orioles. Or the moon.

At the same time, the game was so close because Johnny Cueto was solid. He walked four and racked up a lot of pitches early for the second straight start, but he was still effective, with six strikeouts and two runs allowed. The best part might have been how he started the 1-6-3 double play in the sixth inning, which is absolutely the hardest play in professional sports.

The hero of the game, of course, is Hunter Pence, who hit one of the longest home runs of the year. It was just his fourth homer at AT&T Park this year, which is still stunning, but he picked a good spot. It gave the Giants the lead, and it made a divisional rival sad.

This kind of game is the reason why you trick yourself into watching. The Giants are out of it. They’ve given you ulcers all season. You deserve a break. But ... but ... what if they have one of those games where they pull the Rockies’ nose hairs out one by one and make them curse AT&T Park?

Yeah, what if?

It would look a lot like that.

This is the part of the recap where I ignore the existence of Nolan Arenado, which is pretty much the best feeling in the world.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate that Bruce Bochy didn’t make Kelby Tomlinson bunt. The reason you don’t want to do that is because it takes away the possibility of a home run from the batter, but he didn’t really have to worry about that, so there was no shame in going for the bunt. But Bochy hates bunts even more than nerds do, so he told Tomlinson to slap away.

Tomlinson slapped away.

He was successful.

As a connoisseur of the unwritten rules, I’m delighted to announce that Johnny Cueto can be kind of a jerk when it suits him:

I’ve seen players take their time around the bases. I’ve never seen one player tell another player to take his time around the bases. That has to violate 64 different unwritten rules.

But Cueto won’t take a pitch to the butt for it. He isn’t going to see the Rockies again this year. German Marquez can’t possibly care enough to stricklandize a grudge in the back of his head and let it fester for a year. And, besides, Cueto is a horse-riding, ball-pit-diving mirth monster. No one can stay mad at him.

I like the part where Cueto was super slow and he told Hunter Pence to be super slow, too.

I, too, am eager to rag on my third-base coach after every runner cut down at home. Don’t feel guilty about this impulse. It’s only natural. However, we aren’t watching the other 29 teams around baseball, and it’s possible — probable? — that every fan base complains about their third-base coach.

So we turn to the stats. This isn’t a perfect way to grade a third-base coach. There isn’t a “out made by a dude who stopped running halfway to home, sighed, and lied down in the grass as he waited for the tag” category. But we have the raw number of outs made at home, as well as the number of runners from second who made it home safely. The table should be sortable, but there are no guarantees:

Outs made at home, NL

Tm Outs at home, total Single hit with runner on 2B Stops at third Scores Outs at home from singles
Tm Outs at home, total Single hit with runner on 2B Stops at third Scores Outs at home from singles
PHI 24 153 60 83 10
MIL 23 126 50 66 10
STL 21 143 54 84 5
LAD 20 144 62 71 11
CIN 19 163 77 77 9
CHC 18 161 66 92 3
MIA 17 155 58 91 6
LgAvg 17 155 57 90 8
ARI 16 153 46 100 7
COL 16 169 51 111 7
PIT 15 163 61 93 9
SFG 15 176 64 101 11
ATL 14 180 37 134 9
SDP 14 117 47 66 4
WSN 12 173 67 100 6
NYM 11 144 56 81 7

So what does this tell us? That Phil Nevin is very much a third-base coach. These stats were all from before Tuesday night, so he likely leads the league in getting runners thrown out at home on a single, but there’s a catch. The Giants are also hitting way more singles with a runner from second compared to the average team.

“More hits with runners in scoring position? Wha?”

- You, just now

Ah, right, well, the other teams are also getting doubles, triples, and the other ones. You know, the ones where the ball goes over the wall. Quadbles. Right, the other teams can hit quadbles with runners on base. The Giants hit singles. So Nevin will have more chances to get a runner thrown out at home.

He’s been about average, in other words. It’s frustrating when a few of them get cut down in close proximity, as has happened in the last two weeks, but he’s probably a normal third-base coach.

Hunter Strickland is a major league reliever. He might even be a late-inning reliever if he can get his walks down to where they were in 2015 and 2016. He’s still throwing hard, still missing bats, and his reputation for giving up dingers is wholly based on what happened in the 2014 postseason.

But, hot dang, am I ready for him to learn whatever he needs to learn to get left-handed hitters out. Tim Flannery was suggesting that Parra had a hint that he was getting an inside pitch when he hit his double, but I’m more concerned with the six pitches that Parra fouled off before that. He wouldn’t have been sitting so pretty if he was scared of Strickland’s ... shuuto pitch. Or something.

Just a thought.

On the other hand, the Giants beat the Rockies, and now the Rockies are nervous about making the postseason. When being a spoiler is all you got, it’s suddenly reason enough to get up in the morning. It’s like finding a smooshed peanut butter cup in your pocket when you’re lost in the woods. Gimme.