Other than the platform it was being streamed on, the game started out promisingly. Gregor Blanco homered on the second pitch of the game, Ty Blach shut down the Phillies in the bottom of the first, and then Alen Hanson hit a two-run homer in the top of the second. After the team had looked so inert and helpless against the Phillies pitching staff for the first three games of the series, it was an encouraging start, and a reminder that this is still a major league team. Just because they had a few bad games, that doesn’t mean you should start going all Bryan Murphy and declaring that half of the team is made up of talentless wretches who should retire to spare themselves the indignity of being outclassed in baseball night-in, night-out. That just doesn’t make sense.
Then the rest of the game happened and okay, it makes a little bit of sense.
Ty Blach gave up a leadoff single in the bottom of the first, and then he did some other things, but I was too busy looking at this piece of abstract art to notice:
True art isn’t representational anymore. Open your mind, plebeians.
After Hanson’s homer in the top of the second, the Giants were all, “Hey, that’s enough not striking out,” so oh boy did they start striking out. Starting with Gorkys Hernandez after Hanson, eight of the next 10 Giants at-bats ended in strikeouts. It was like they had a team meeting and Hernandez said, “Uh guys, how are we supposed to hit that fastball?” and then Nick Hundley said, “No, how are we supposed to hit that curveball?” and they puzzled over it for a minute before savvy veteran Evan Longoria realized, “Hey, why don’t we not hit both?”
This is why you trade for Evan Longoria. No rookie could come up with that idea.
Coming into the game, Vince Velasquez was striking out 24.7% of the batters he faced. Of every pitcher who’s thrown at least 30 innings this year, he came in 39th in K%. That’s not bad! 39th out of 118 is comfortably above average. But it’s not elite, and he still got strikeouts at will against the Giants. That’s how the entire series went; not including today, the Phillies starting staff is 14th in the majors in K%, and the Giants spent all four games swinging through everything.
Do you think “swinging through everything” is an exaggeration? Well, yes, you’re right. But it’s less of an exaggeration than in any other four game series in Giants history going back more than 100 years. They crushed their old record. Stats Inc put this out four strikeouts before they were done for the day:
The Giants beat their previous record by 25%. They basically took their all time worst four game series for strikeouts, which they set against Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, and Brandon Webb, and said, “We can cram a whole other game’s worth of strikeouts in those four games,” and then they did! It’s an impressive commitment to a stupid, stupid bit, like Nicolas Cage in The Wicker Man, or Nicolas Cage in Ghost Rider, or Nicolas Cage in Knowing, or Nicolas Cage in ... you know what? Like Nicolas Cage. Let’s just stick with that.
The Phillies found a vulnerability and they exposed it. From the outside, it sure looks like that vulnerability is that the Giants can’t hit pitches thrown by baseball pitchers, but it’s probably more complicated than that. Maybe it’s spin rate, maybe it’s velocity, maybe it’s sequencing, but Phillies pitching sure had the Giants’ number this whole series. Strikeouts have been up for the Giants all year, probably at least partially because the team has embraced the launch angle revolution, but this goes beyond that. We’re well past Tip Your Cap territory. This is Chronicle Feature Story About Alonzo Powell And Rich Schu Staying Up All Night territory.
Ty Blach came in 117th out of 118 on that K% leaderboard, by the way.
Blach was good for the first three innings of the game, but after a leadoff walk in the fourth, things fell apart for him. He gave up a double down the line to Odubel Herrera, a single to Rhys Hoskins, and a three-run homer to Carlos Santana. The thing to keep in mind about Ty Blach, Major League Starter, is that he has much, much less margin for error than most other pitchers in the big leagues right now. He doesn’t have the pure stuff of just about anyone else in the rotation, but he makes up for it with control, command, and deception. Look at pitch 5 here on the Herrera double:
If that’s called a strike, then it’s a very different inning and a very different game. But the fact that it wasn’t put Blach in a more difficult position than a pitcher who can reach 95, or throw a biting 86 MPH slider. If he just misses, or he throws the ball on the edge of the zone and doesn’t get the call, where does he go from there? He doesn’t have the options of, say, Aaron Nola, which makes pitching so much harder for him when things don’t go perfectly.
Now it’s time for our hopefully never to be repeated again feature, Facebook Comments of the Day! This is for the most Facebook comments on the Facebook feed of today’s game, broadcast exclusively on Facebook, because that’s where the kids are nowadays.
Here is some expert commentary on Gregor Blanco’s home run:
Here, the people lend their insight to Alen Hanson’s homer:
Nick Hundley was today’s cleanup hitter, and here, Susan tells a tale of heartbreak:
Justin just likes comments:
Oh no! Carlos Santana just went yard! What do the people have to say about this?
Maxine, a francophone Giants fan, expresses hope that her team will win, while Drew has a yen for something else:
Josh is willing to cut a deal:
Here are pros and cons of the game being on Facebook:
JENNY THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT
Sick burns here:
Steven asks former Giants reliever Javy Lopez about an important hypothetical:
John gets topical:
Facebook is bad:
Lugui does not like sports:
Sometimes people mistake Hugh for something he’s not:
And Cynthia chimes in with the coveted Most Facebook Comment Of The Game. Congrats, Cynthia!