The game began with Andrew W.K.’s “Party Hard” blaring over Sun Trust’s PA as everyone stood around apparently wondering what to do about an open door to the bullpen. It was like a scene out of a Roy Andersson film.
It was later revealed that the hold-up wasn’t the door, but rather that the replay system was out. It was almost as if the inability to look back at the past and the dissonance between the liveliness of the music and the inaction on the field was a reminder to stay in the moment, to not dwell on the things that have already happened.
And like a scene out of a Roy Andersson film, what it all means is up to interpretation.
Baseball, more than any other sport, is a game of sequencing, and every result is affected by what came before it. If Alen Hanson doesn’t boot a soft ground ball, Andrew Suarez doesn’t have to face Jose Bautista with two runners on. If Suarez doesn’t have to face Bautista with two runners on, he doesn’t walk them to load the bases. If he doesn’t walk Bautista, he doesn’t give up a run on a ground ball. If Pablo Sandoval doesn’t make a great play to stop a double, who knows how many runs the Braves would have scored in the first?
I think this game wanted us to look at the present and appreciate what we have now. The Giants won completing their first sweep since July 2, 2017 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. They’ve won four in a row, and they’re four games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2016 season.
It doesn’t matter that Hunter Strickland had no idea where the ball was going or that the game ended with the tying run on third with one of the Braves’ best hitters at the plate. The Giants won. Don’t look back. It will just make you mad. The Giants won.
Suarez could have looked back on the near disaster that was the first inning. Or he could have let the leadoff hitters reaching in the second and third innings shake his confidence. But he remained focused on the hitter at the plate. He pitched to the situation at hand, and he managed to induce three groundball double plays.
Suarez’s success hinged on keeping the Braves out of the air. He induced eleven ground balls in his outing compared to just four combined line drives and fly balls. While not all of them were hit softly, but it’s hard to put up crooked numbers with the ground attack.
Hanson’s error in the first led to Suarez throwing twelve more pitches than he should have had to, which meant Suarez wasn’t able to finish the sixth inning and get the quality start.
But I’d say he pitched better than Chris Stratton or Ty Blach did in this series. There are things to be concerned with each of the pitchers the Giants started this weekend: low K% and average looking stuff. But if they can do this to the Braves, they can theoretically do it to anyone.
The offense, like Suarez, didn’t look back either. In each game of this series, the Giants fell behind early, and in each game, they retook the lead by the third inning. The Giants had plenty of dinks and doinks that fell in for hits, but they didn’t need those dinks and doinks. They had plenty of hard-hit balls in the series from the #LongoDongo on Friday night to Crawford’s double today.
In the third inning, Duane Kuiper remarked that he didn’t remember Andrew McCutchen walking as much as he has in a Giants uniform. He’s right! McCutchen’s BB% of 16% is up five points from his career average. McCutchen has had six months prior to 2018 where he’s walked at rate higher than he is now, so he’s done this before without it indicating a season-long trend. But it will be something to monitor as the season goes on. His chase rate is down 7% after all. Brandon Belt might finally have a rival for most walks on the team.
This play by Pablo Sandoval in the first probably saved the game, though.
If Sandoval lets that ball get by him, at least two runs score and the Braves still would have had two runners in scoring position. Sandoval’s never had great range, but he has quick reflexes. His defense has looked pretty good this year, and the metrics actually agree. If the season ended today, he’d have his best UZR/150 since 2011.
After three lost seasons, Sandoval might actually be above replacement level. This is probably the most surprising thing about the 2018 Giants.
Alen Hanson continues to be fun. Mlb.com doesn’t have a video of it, but he scored with another headfirst slide on a play nearly identical to Friday night’s game. His energy and reckless abandon remind me a bit of Javier Baez. His glove doesn’t remind me of Baez, though. With two errors today, he’s probably going to be taking a lot of infield over the next few days.
Tyler Flowers sure has some wild arm accessories, huh?
The color scheme looks like my Road to the Show player’s arm bands. It also looks like it has a Walkman built into it. That little flap on his hand conceals all the advanced scouting on the Giants hitters and a Neopet.
The Giants won. It was a good game, really. Everything except for the top of the ninth was just peachy.