You knew the Giants weren’t going to win that game. Baseball’s not about winning. It’s about strikeouts and launch angles. As long as the Giants are striking out, they’re successful. Tonight’s 11-2 loss was all about Andrew McCutchen and how our devotion to this dumb stupid sport won’t let us stray far, even when sticking around is painful and sad and wasteful of a Friday night.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been through some stuff. Jack Wilson played 1,159 games for them, for instance. But again, baseball’s no longer about wins and losses. That part of the recap will write itself. This current iteration of the Giants that’s existed since July of 2016 belongs to another era and doesn’t need to be examined. The Pirates, on the other hand...
They traded away the face of their franchise this past offseason so that their ownership could pocket a few extra million in revenue because it’s not about winning, it’s about strikeouts and launch angles and profit. We all profited from the genuine outpouring of love and support for the return of a local hero.
Long standing-o for McCutchen in his return to Pittsburgh pic.twitter.com/rDNZoYkkde— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) May 11, 2018
This is why we keep watching a ridiculous mess. We love these players. Tell me you wouldn’t stand for an hour cheering Buster Posey if he came back. Or Brandon Belt. Or Pablo Sandoval (but only when he pitched). We can’t help but keep supporting the people we love. We don’t even know these loogie-shooting, cup-clutching ball junkies. But they do something we can’t, and they wear our favorite laundry. Our love of the game defies explanation.
In a rather bizarre coincidence, the Giants’ first 5-game losing streak of the 2018 season comes almost exactly a year to the day of the 2017 team’s first 5-game losing streak of the season (they’d actually only have one other 5-game losing streak, but they would have one 6-game losing streak). Like the post-Atlanta leg of this road trip, the Giants didn’t look like a major league-caliber team at any point in the contest.
Andy Suarez just looks like a solid pitcher trying to figure it out as a rookie. If he could only be backed by a competent lineup, his struggles might not have been in vain. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, of course, which puts him at a disadvantage, and the Pirates were able to work the count to put him in situations where he had to come in — they made him pay. He’ll adjust. Suarez keeps looking like he can be useful in the future.
The Pirates were aggressive against bad pitches and managed to make contact. The Giants swung at anything close and watched pitches down the middle. Austin Jackson’s big hit to tie the game in the top of the 4th actually was the best hit of the night because it was a mistake but to the same general spot as the first called strike of the at bat. That was the first time since the Atlanta series where the Giants punished an opposing pitcher for getting too cute with his sequencing.
It was also the only time.
The Giants are now back under .500. Probably where they belong. They’ve been outscored 151-183 through 39 games. Last year through 39 games, it was 131-192. So, again, they’re better this year than last year. Somehow. So far. But tonight’s loss was also the third time on this road trip that they’ve allowed 11 runs (twice to Philly). They’ve also scored 11 runs on this trip, too, though.
It’s the sixth time they’ve allowed double digits in a loss and the second time they’ve lost by 9 runs (10-1 to Padres 4/15). Oh sure, they’ve lost worse than that and just slightly not as bad, too, but in just 39 games, they’re starting to rack up a lot of different loss styles. Here’s hoping the organization has not developed some sort of losing style guide. Speaking of which...
The math is beginning to suggests an extinction-level event in the front office. If you’re willing to shake up the entire coaching staff at the risk of upsetting your Hall of Fame manager and revamp the entire player development system that netted you the young players that helped you win three World Series in five years, then it doesn’t make sense to suddenly backslide.
The psychology of fear forced the Giants to MacGyver their offseason, and now they’re right back at the precipice they had worked so hard to avoid. Those aren’t echoes of last season — that’s 2017 screaming down your neck. What are you going to do about it?
Per the @RiverCats, Hunter Pence has restarted his rehab assignment.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) May 11, 2018
Bochy said Mac has some exercises he needs to do, recommended by docs, to get things in order. No plans to bring up any other young OFs because #sfgiants need pitching more.— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) May 11, 2018
It was supposed to be different this year. Oo-oo-oo-oo-ooooo, they’ve got a new attitude!Right? No. Absolutely not. The Giants have backslid. We’re not their friends or loved ones, so we can’t hold an intervention. It looks like the rest of Major League Baseball is about to do it instead.
The good news is that people are still capable of showing their affection for each other and they’re willing to do so publicly. Andrew McCutchen embodies the spirit of baseball. Let’s just... yeah, let’s just hold onto that thought.