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Giants can’t catch Astros, lose 4-1

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We didn’t expect any surprises in this series, and we didn’t get any.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It would’ve taken a miracle for the Giants to beat the Astros in either of these games and, on paper, there’s no reason to think that the Giants will beat the Astros anytime soon. And to that point, there’s really no reason to analyze what happened in this 2-game series. It was very obvious: the Astros are great, the Giants are not.

The Astros are good enough to overcome any mistake they make, the Giants aren’t. The Astros had a strike ‘em out-throw ‘em out double play to end the first and a caught stealing later in the game. Tony Kemp misplayed Gorkys Hernandez’s eventual triple that led to the Giants’ only run, and Alex Bregmann was picked off at first base. Any single one of those mistakes would be a losing streak-inducing cataclysm for the Giants; we know this. Thankfully for the Astros, they are the Astros, and they were playing the Giants.

That’s really all that needs to be said about this one: Andrew McCutchen didn’t catch a pop up because it didn’t matter, they were playing the Astros — even if he had caught it, their rally would’ve just started an inning or two later. Jeff Samardzija couldn’t find the strike zone, but it didn’t matter, because he was facing the Astros — even if he had been “on”, they would’ve gotten to him some other way.

To that point, this was a series pitching matchup of the worst swinging strike percentage in the entire sport (Giants: 9.1%) versus the best (Astros: 12.7%) for the season to this point.

And recently...

Giants pitching just doesn’t have the stuff to get swings and misses, and the Astros overwhelmingly do. Giants hitters love to swing and miss (10th worst at 10.9%) while the Astros don’t quite as much (5th best at 9.7%). Strikeouts are up across the entire sport, of course, but the Giants just don’t have the arms to fully take advantage of that, and, of course, do not have the talent to take advantage of mistakes made by better teams.

But we knew all that coming into this series and coming into the season. We’re watching because we love baseball and they’re better than last season. Maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll make some noise and possibly, maybe stay in a 2nd Wild Card race into September. That’s definitely a best case scenario. Losing 4 total games in a season to the Astros is, in a global sense, the expected scenario, and there shouldn’t be a gnashing of teeth or frustration.

Justin Verlander has been absolutely dominant this season and as much as we love the Giants, there was little chance this ragtag group of baseball batters were going to upend that dominance. This isn’t the 2012 World Series — the Giants didn’t have a Scutaroan breeze at their backs as they... sailed... into... Houston (you know, what this works. Houston is adjacent to a bay) — and Verlander has aged like a fine whine.

That’s right, I said it. Whenever a player gets busted for PED use, Justin Verlander is the loudest player in the MLBPA to drag the offenders. He’s certainly entitled to his opinion and has the right to speak loudly and forcefully against “cheaters”, and I’m sure that as a pitcher, it must’ve made him extremely happy to see that at age 35 he’s so much better than Pablo Sandoval, who’s aged into a bench player. That was the normal order of baseball until very recently. I supposed we should be happy for Verlander that it has gone back to how things used to be. Seriously, though, Verlander looked fantastic and the way he mixes his pitches shows how much he’s elevated his stellar game.

Really, just forget these games even happened. This isn’t a doom and gloom recap! Just forget it ever happened! We learned nothing we didn’t already know and the games were exactly as enjoyable as they appeared they would be when looking at both teams on paper.

Okay, well, maybe Gorkys Hernandez putting together competitive at bats and playing a nice centerfield is worth remembering.

Jeff Samardzija’s sustained wonkiness with his fastball command might also be another takeaway... his fastball did touch 95 today and he threw his curveball a lot more, but his performance since coming back from his pectoral injury still possesses many, many red flags — though, if I may... I’ll end this recap on a positive note:

Jeff Samardzija has allowed, on average, 1 home run per start in his career. Despite allowing 1 home run in today’s game, his 7th start of the season, he has allowed... only 6 home runs in 2018.