The Giants nearly got no-hit by Patrick Corbin last night and that is never fun. It is marginally more fun when your team ends the no-hitter, and definitely becomes a lot of fun when they do so by either tying the game or taking the lead. But if all they are capable of doing is getting an infield single to end the bid, then continuing to do nothing, it’s not very fun at all.
Last night had the potential to be a fun game but ended up being the latter of those options. Johnny Cueto was dealing and only one run was allowed by Tony Watson. That’s not insurmountable - despite the way we’ve recently been conditioned to think.
Even in the top of the ninth inning - all hope shouldn’t have been lost. Gorkys Hernández, Austin Jackson and Joe Panik are all capable of making something happen - however unlikely it seems to our psyches. Hernández has been reliable offensively, Jackson isn’t the worst in the lineup and Panik is the best they’ve got right now.
Well, Hernández and Jackson struck out, then this showed up on my Gameday feed:
What the what? Joe Panik, he of the one-man offense to start the season, being replaced by Nick Hundley, he of the .272 OBP for 2017. It’s almost as though Doug foresaw this moment and was trying to prepare us.
I’m not really trying to pick on Hundley, and this is not at all to say that he was solely responsible for the Giants losing the game. The entire offense was feckless the entire game and must share that blame. And they all must endure Cueto’s judgmental stares, as he fills the role of “excellent pitcher with no run support” in the spirit of the injured Madison Bumgarner, and of course the Matt Cain days of yore.
But it was a highly questionable decision to bring in Hundley as an offensive replacement for the best offensive player on the team at the moment.
There’s no way to know that Panik wouldn’t have made an out there as well. But it seems to me that you would want to put your team in the best position to win the game. Replacing Joe Panik with Nick Hundley with two outs in the ninth inning of a game where your team is only down by one run doesn’t seem like the best way to put your team in a position to win.
However, Bruce Bochy may have thought otherwise. Panik was, after all, facing Corbin for the fourth time, having only managed a walk thus far in the game. And according to Mike Krukow, they like the fact that Hundley is making contact, even if he's got little to show for it.
Bochy is also notorious for his belief that lefties can’t hit lefties and platooning his players accordingly. So perhaps he believed that Hundley actually was the better fit in that position, regardless of how it turned out.
However, in the small sample size that is this season, the Giants’ left-handed batters are actually doing better against lefty pitchers than the right-handed batters are. In 2017, it was the opposite, but not by much.
Perhaps it’s due to the sheer amount of left-handed pitchers in the National League West combined with the overall offensive incompetence of the team, but somehow the myth persists that The Giants Lefties Can’t Hit Lefties. And that’s just how they’re going to be managed.
And it’s true that so far this season, Panik, specifically, has fared better against right-handed pitchers. However, two of his three home runs have come against lefties. And with Corbin approaching 100 pitches before Panik was set to face him again, Panik certainly seems like the better option if you're looking for someone who can re-set the game with one swing of the bat.