Previously in the Giants-Padres head-to-head matchup... Nick Hundley hit a walk-off single to beat the Padres... the Padres took 3 of 4 against the Giants... and before this season, Tyson Ross last pitched against the Giants in 2015 and struck out 11 in 6 innings.
Tonight, he spotted his fastball and his slider wherever he wanted. He was dotting corners, working all four zones of the plate (inside, outside, up, down) and simply overpowered the majority of the Giants’ lineup. It was similar to the Zack Godley game earlier in the season, where Godley kept pumping curveballs and the Giants were helpless to stop themselves from swinging and looked like they simply could not pick up the pitch. Gregor Blanco and Alen Hanson were overpowered rather easily, and the other players who were able to make Ross work until he made a mistake could only hit it right into San Diego’s defense. The Luis Perdomo Memorial Starter Award has been given to Tyson Ross this season.
Andrew McCutchen, in particular, had some horrendous luck on his hard hit balls and it wasn’t until the bottom of the fifth inning when he rocketed a liner past Christian Villanueva that he actually turned that around. But let me just say, hitting him second makes me feel really, really good. That’s a really nice spot for him and his skillset.
And then there was big money man Eric Hosmer coming in and smacking triples and homers all over AT&T Park. If the Giants had signed him for some reason this offseason, you just know we’d never have seen either of the feats he accomplished tonight. That scorcher into Triples Alley would’ve been caught somehow and he would not have overpowered a weak fastball for an opposite field home run through the marine layer.
Ross & Hosmer basically pick and rolled the Giants to death tonight and I’m using basketball terminology because the basketball game made me feel better than the baseball game did tonight.
Christian Villanueva has shown that he attacks the first pitch and yet the Giants continue to throw him pitches down the middle on the first pitch. They’re also making mistakes right in the middle of the zone after the first pitch and to his credit he’s simply punishing anything in the zone. It’s odd that the Giants don’t pitch away from who’s perhaps the Padres’ best power hitter, and I won’t put any psychology on this and say the Giants won’t give extra respect to guys who are, essentially, rookies, but I will say that, psychologically, it seems unhealthy to keep letting a guy own you so thoroughly.
Speaking of ownage... they say that pitchers supply the power for hitters, but Eric Hosmer was able to overpower the marine layer with his home run against a Hunter Strickland two-seam fastball that did nothing but stay in the strike zone because he’s strong. And he was able to hit a mistake with a lot of strength.
The Padres have been able to kill pitches they square up in basically every game against the Giants this season and the Giants have managed to square up pitches and, for the most part, not do much with them. As I said last night:
Let’s talk about these stupid sexy Padres. You could throw them all in a bag, blindly reach into that bag, and pull out a younger, faster, stronger, and simply more virile player than anyone on the Giants’ roster.
That youthful energy and abundance of talent will show up every night and apparently this particular group is disciplined enough to maintain that youth energy and abundance of talent through all nine innings of a game, which is good for Andy Green’s job security but a problem for the Giants, who are old and prone to getting cold and sleepy later in the game.
You could argue that a lot of these guys were tired after a long weekend series and it was cold and tough to hit the sliders the Padres were throwing their way, but that’s sort of my point, isn’t it? It’s harder on the older bodies. Eric Hosmer is stronger and more powerful than Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Strickland’s fastball. That looks harsh on the screen but feels right in my head. Buster Posey worked his ass off to get Tyson Ross to throw him the exact pitch he wanted, but he missed it. The Padres have absolutely no clue what they’re doing at the plate and simply reacting to pitches they think they can hit.
Veteran craftiness is great, and it has certainly been a key ingredient in the Sabean era of Giants’ baseball, but the Padres have been a strong reminder that an abundance of youth has value, too.
Which is why Andy Suarez’s start was so damn great to watch.
It’s not like the Giants don’t have any talent, it’s just not as young as the Padres’. I know, I know, you want to just talk about Johnny Cueto being lost for the remainder of the season/forever, but let’s focus on the cold-blooded rookie pitcher who took the mound tonight. His curveball wasn’t sharp, but it was effective. His fastball wasn’t overpowering, but it was an effective 93 mph. His changeup and slider kept the hitters off balance just enough, too, that he managed to work at a brisk pace and was mostly in control all night long.
He gave up 4 fly balls in the first inning. One of those was a mammoth home run to Villanueva, one was actually an infield popup, one was a ball crushed to left center field that was caught near the wall, and the final out was a flyout to right field. The Giants had been living the outlier life as a team with their HR/FB ratio in the month of April, so I figured we were witnessing some group negative regression (is that even a real term?), but after that first inning, Suarez kept getting groundballs when he needed them, leading to three double plays.
He also walked a batter, which broke my heart, but nobody’s perfect. He was above average against one of the best offenses in the National League in his very first major league start and above average against a team the Giants’ pitching staff cannot handle. With the pitching staff disintegrating before our very eyes, it will be good to see him stick around for the next couple of months.
There will be ups and downs, but I’m ready to go on the journey.
If there’s a pall over tonight’s loss, it’s not just because Hunter Strickland came into a tie game and gave up a home run, but because there’s a chance... well..
Bochy said he'll have more on Cueto tomorrow. He has felt soreness in elbow. Team needs to go over MRI results.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) May 2, 2018
... Cueto has been in this situation before concerning his forearm, both with the Reds and the Giants. It’s not new, but it’s not good. And the fact that the news is being delayed until tomorrow could be prudence on the organization’s part or an indication that they need to finalize some prepared remarks.
In any case, get well soon, Johnny Cueto, and Giants, please, if you want to be better than the 2018 Padres, find a way to beat the 2018 Padres. They’re making you look bad.