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The Brandons lead the Giants to victory, 9-4

The offense and the bullpen picked up Chris Stratton who hasn’t been very good this year.

Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants
Keep mashing, Brandon.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Once again, the Giants fell behind in the first inning. Coming into today, the Giants had a 7.24 ERA in 46 first innings. Amazingly, that’s not the worst in the majors nor is it the worst in the National League. It isn’t even the worst among teams who played baseball in San Francisco today since the Rockies had a 7.40 ERA in the first inning.

The Giants have played like the Harlem Globetrotters this year except instead of falling behind early to set up the dramatic comeback, they just fall behind and stay there more often than not. Also, they’re the one getting their pants pulled down. And getting splashed with buckets of water.

Today, though, they came back. Not only that, but they wound up blowing the Rockies out behind Brandons Belt and Crawford combined to go 5-for-9 with a home run, a walk, and five RBI.

Crawford had two of the biggest hits: a go-ahead double that smooched the foul line and a big boy dinger off Brooks Pounders.

He was also a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. I’m kind of glad he didn’t get it because I don’t really care about hitting for the cycle and I didn’t want to have to think of something to say about it.

Miguel Gomez went 2-for-4 and got a “He can hit” from Mike Krukow. Naturally, that means he’s going to go 0-for-4 with three strikeouts tomorrow. If Gomez can continue to swing the bat like he did today, that would be huge for Giants. Since April 28, the day after Panik sustained his thumb injury, Giants second basemen have hit .268/.299/.476 good for a 111 wRC+. A lot of that was Alen Hanson but Kelby Tomlinson and Gomez have shown flashes of competency at the plate. Here’s hoping one of them can fake it until Hanson or Panik returns.

Gregor Blanco had a double turn into a triple because someone in the Rockies bullpen forgot to move their bag. Out of all things that could realistically be struck by a live ball and still have play resume, a soft-shelled water cooler is probably the least likely. I’ve seen balls hit folding chairs, stools, and Jose Canseco’s noggin but even today, I would put bet on a ball striking all those objects before a cooler full of cold, refreshing water.

I’m beginning to think the reason Chris Stratton doesn’t throw his curveball more often is because it’s not a good pitch. According to Fangraphs’ pitch values, it’s been worth -3 runs compared to last year when it was worth 3.4 runs. Opponents are also hitting .280 against his curve and slugging .560. It’s a small sample of pitches put it play, but it’s hard for Stratton to gain confidence in the pitch when the results have been so poor.

Stratton threw two curves in the strike zone today. One to strike out Jon Gray and a hanger that Nolan Arenado did Arenado things to. The Rockies weren’t tempted to swing at it as he couldn’t get it anywhere near the zone. Not only did Stratton not get any whiffs on his curve, but the only two curves the Rockies swung at resulted in hits.

Stratton was considered a breakout candidate before the season started because of his curve, but it hasn’t been there for him this year. Without it, he has an average fastball and changeup, so it’s hard to see him being more than a fourth or fifth starter.

If you lower your expectations for Stratton to fifth starter levels, then today was just about what you’d expect. Five innings and four runs. If Belt makes that diving play on that grounder in the fifth, maybe he goes six and ends the day with a quality start. Without the curve, though, he’s not going to get there without help from the defense.

Stratton kept the Giants in it, though, and the bullpen took it the rest of the way. I’m hesitant to say this, but the bullpen is… fine? It’s been a long time since I had actual confidence in the Giants’ relievers, but I expect their outings to be uneventful even if they’re not dominant. Will Smith has been great since coming back from Tommy John. Sam Dyson has allowed one run since April 21. Tony Watson looks like his old self since a rough outing in Pittsburgh.

Over four innings, they gave up two baserunners and struck out five. The only thing that makes me nervous is the likelihood they’ll be overworked with a starting rotation that struggles to get to the sixth inning.

Brooks Pounders is the kind of name an intro to creative writing student would name the protagonist in their short story about a former boxing champ reckoning with his failed marriage. It’s a name that does work, like Young Goodman Brown is a good, young man, Brooks Pounders is a man who can only externalize his emotions with his fists. Internally, though, is an interconnected stream of regret and ambition.

Brooks Pounders is a very good name for an actual baseball man. 100 years from now, the robots generating all the world’s writing will scrape Baseball Reference for on-the-nose pitcher names and Brooks Pounders’ will be the second to show up after Josh Outman.

During broadcast, Mike Krukow showed off a set of Giants-themed Chechen matryoshka which included Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Gorkys Hernandez, and number 95, Brandon Crawford. Mostly this gives me a reason to link back to a piece that was a great inspiration to me: this very important article about a Pedro Feliz matryoshka doll. Without that article, I probably wouldn’t be writing for McCovey Chronicles today.

Did anyone ever find out what’s inside that Pedro Feliz matryoshka doll?