Losing in extra innings always feels like a waste of time. There’s never an “almost had it” feeling. It’s always a “should have had it.” It’s even more frustrating when the loss is the result of walks let alone three walks in an inning. The Rockies will always have an advantage in extra-inning games with their super bullpen. It’s probably best to not even try.
Especially when the strike zone is going to get weird. Here’s Crawford’s at bat in the bottom of the twelfth:
Notice the second pitch in the at bat was higher than the payoff pitch but the former was a ball and the latter was a strike. It sure would have been nice to find out what would have happened with a runner on first, nobody out, and Wade Davis not being able to throw strikes. Probably, the Giants still would have lost, but getting the bat taken out of Crawford’s hands makes it hard not to ask, “What if?”
We’re six starts into Samardzija’s 2018 and thus far he’s posted a 6.30 ERA and a 5.68 FIP. He got off to a similarly bad start in 2017, but he still wasn’t walking anyone. During the broadcast, a graphic displaying the largest decline in strike percentage from 2017 to 2018 showed Jeff Samardzija among Bryan Mitchell and Lucas Giolito who have both been dreadful this year. The red flags with Samardzija have been plentiful, and it was getting harder to chalk up to him getting rushed back from injury.
Tonight, though, he made it through the sixth inning for the first time this year. Not only that, he nearly made it through the seventh. From the beginning it looked like Samardzija was going to have another rough outing. He didn’t have command of his pitches and he was leaving pitches out over the plate where even Chad Bettis could punish them.
As the game wore on, Samardzija settled in and started hitting his spots. He walked three and struck out three while giving up three runs, so he wasn’t exactly dominant. He at least looked like he knew where the ball was going. Samardzija has been slowly improving every time out, and he’s giving reason to believe he’ll be back to where he used to be. The Giants would take Samardzija having a start like this every time.
The bullpen deserves some credit, too, for preserving the tie for as long as they did. From the third and the eleventh, Samardzija and the bullpen combined for nine shutout innings. Sam Dyson had a strong outing, managing to pitch through a leadoff error. Hunter Strickland had a nice, easy ninth. Tony Watson gave up two two-out hits on the ground.
This should all be given with the caveat that the Rockies are somehow the worst hitting team in the majors by wRC+. They’re worse than the Marlins who are starting cardboard cutouts of Derek Jeter wearing Miami jerseys. Does this mean that Samardzija’s success tonight should be discounted? No. Mostly, I wanted to point out how bad Colorado’s offense is.
This is a weird Rockies team because their pitching is actually pretty good. Adam Ottavino started off the ninth inning by throwing a slider to Brandon Belt that made me want to throw up. Dude looks straight out of a video game right down to wearing 0 on his jersey. It’s something of a moral victory the Giants were able to get him to throw 38 pitches at the beginning of a four-game series.
Mostly though, the Giants offense appeared to be all out of feck. Brandon Belt, best first baseman in the majors, can only do so much on his own. It was very cool of Andrew McCutchen to strike out four times on a day where I wrote something about how he’s been better than his slash line indicates. That line drive he hit right at Trevor Story in the eleventh made me feel a little better though.
Not all non-Belts were miserable at the plate. Austin Jackson had not one, but two extra base hits tonight. This brings his season total up to six. All doubles. Expecting Jackson to repeat his 2017 was always going to be a tall order, but he’s also not going to end the season with an OPS below .600. And what do you know? After hitting two doubles and walking tonight, his OPS has skyrocketed to .609.
Replay dingers are dumb. I love replay dingers. All the normal excitement is replaced by confusion and anxiety. There’s always the fear that the reviewers are going to bone it like they did with Brandon Crawford. And if it does get ruled a homer, the batter has to run the bases in the most anti-climactic strut.
All the inaction of waiting for the result followed by the forced enthusiasm when it comes is like watching children’s theater when Lil Hamlet is standing around on stage and a parent has to whisper-shout at them to stab Lil Polonius through the curtain.
One of these days, we’re going to see a replay dinger that gets erased because the batter didn’t touch third or whatever after they take the last half of their home run trot, and there’s going to be chaos. It’s going to be great.
We didn’t get chaos tonight. We just got our fourth Brandon Belt dinger in as many games. Make it five in five games tomorrow night, please. Or six in five.