Losses in which the Giants jump out in front in the first and don’t do anything for the rest of the game are among the worst genres of baseball. They’re not quite as bad as leading all the way to lose in the ninth, but they’re infinitely worse than getting blown out or never having a lead in a 5-3 loss.
They’re the worst because they begin with optimism and endorphins. This will be an easy win, you think. But then a few innings go by and and maybe nothing happens. Maybe the other team takes the lead. Then you realize that something’s wrong. This sucks. That one run the Giants got four hours ago is going to be the only run they get all night. Those endorphins have all been replaced by wasps and, oh god, they’re everywhere.
These kinds of losses are especially bad in Miami because the 6,000 people there don’t make any noise. Even when McCutchen down 1-2 with two outs in the ninth, it was eerily quiet. It presented a question: If the Giants lose a game in Miami, does anyone care?
You do, apparently, because you’re reading this. I do because I’m writing this.
I’m hoping nobody else notices this, though. This was embarrassing. The Giants tried their absolute hardest and got three hits against the Marlins.
It was an inauspicious start for Trevor Richards. He threw balls for eight out of the first ten pitches to open up the game and eventually walked Joe Panik and Buster Posey. Richards threw a 55-foot curveball to Andrew McCutchen that allowed Panik and Posey to advance. So the Giants had runners at second and third with nobody out.
It looked like Richards was going to get blown up. Not only could he not throw strikes, but he couldn’t throw anywhere near the strike zone. I was hopeful Richards would get blown up for two reasons. (1) It would be conducive for the Giants’ success. (2) I already get Garrett Richard and Clayton Richards confused and I don’t need another Richard/s muddying up my knowledge of fringe-to-average starters. Not to mention I’d probably get Trevor Richards confused with Trevor Williams, too. If he doesn’t stick in the majors, I don’t need to worry about him. Getting blown up would help him not stick.
(I know it’s not very nice to actively root for the failure of a stranger, but my brain is filled with wasps right now. Change your name to something memorable like Django Thunderchain or Ziggy Bebop.)
But Richards did not get blown up. He struck out McCutchen after falling behind 3-1. Crawford hit the ball hard but JT Riddle made a great play on it. Then he got Evan Longoria to ground out on a 3-1 pitch below the zone.
I mentioned last night that Longoria is up looking to swing. Sometimes it works. It did not work this time. He’s been especially bad on pitches below the zone, so it’s frustrating to see him turn a walk into an inning ending ground out against a pitcher who looked so, so lost.
The Giants got two hits against him over the next five innings. One of those hits came from Chris Stratton. The only time they got a runner into scoring position, he got back-picked by JT Realmuto. I don’t remember the last time I saw a runner get picked off by the catcher at second base. That runner was Gorkys Hernandez, whose baserunning I praised last night. It figures he’d come back with one of the worst TOOTBLANs all season.
Stratton actually pitched pretty well, but he had one bad inning and that was all it took. He gave up three runs in the third, and it probably should have been more if not for some quick reactions/a bit of luck.
I don’t understand why anyone wants to be a pitcher. In addition to the obvious risk it poses to one’s shoulder and elbow, there’s also the added likelihood getting beamed by baseballs at 110 MPH. I’m glad that Chris Stratton is both okay and that he caught it because it allows me to laugh at his reaction which was, “GGGLLLLEAAAOOO—Got it.”
Stratton retired the last thirteen batters in a row after a rocky start. He ended with as many walks as he did strikeouts: three. He did manage to make it through seven innings after the bullpen had thrown over sixteen innings in the last four games.
Stratton appeared to have more confidence in his curve tonight, too. He threw 20 curves tonight which is about 19% or four points more than he has this year. He threw some good ones, too. He also threw some not so good ones, and he only got one whiff on curves all night.
Baseball Prospectus has only counted Stratton throwing four pairs of curveballs to right handers all year. Tonight, he threw three straight curves to JT Realmuto, a right-handed hitter. The second curve he threw in that sequence was his best all night and should have been called a strike.
It’s sad when the best thing a team does all game is throw a nice-looking curveball that didn’t even get called for a strike. But it’s true. Chris Stratton was the only Giant who did anything remotely right, and he gave up a two-run double to JT Riddle. Riddle is so bad at hitting that Don Mattingly used him to bunt down by a run last night.
The best the Giants can do is split the series. It’s not a terrible result, but when you remember they took two of three from the Nationals and beat Max Scherzer, it’s so, so, so, dumb they’re in this position at all.