It was a game of parallels. Two starting pitchers who dueled it out for nearly seven innings of one-run ball. Two hitters responsible for the majority of their team’s runs, including a home run a piece.
The difference in this game ultimately came down to getting out of a jam: the Giants were able to do so, the Rockies were not.
Derek Holland and Chad Bettis were superb, but ultimately Holland prevailed. In what was likely his best start of the season thus far, Holland went six and two thirds innings, allowing six hits, one earned run, two walks and racking up eight strike outs - tying a season high.
After allowing a home run to Giant-slayer Ian Desmond in the second inning, Holland was locked in, mixing his sinker and slider with excellent results. Even when the results weren’t exactly what he was looking for, he was painting the edges of the zone, including this generously called four-pitch walk to Bettis, where any one of the pitches could have been strikes in a more consistent zone:
Holland's did not get a lot of leeway from John Trumpane there. All four of those pitches to Bettis were pretty close. Three out of four were definitely touching the edge of the zone. #SFGiants pic.twitter.com/gzMk2RvpRM— Julie Parker (@insidethepark3r) June 27, 2018
Most impressive were his fifth and sixth innings. After allowing back to back singles to start the fifth, Holland struck out two and got a flyout to end the inning. Similarly, with one out, he walked Nolan Arenado and allowed a single to Trevor Story in the sixth, but pitched right through it and got another strike out and a ground out on great defense by the Brandons, which was another theme of the night that we will get to later.
A side note, I sat in on Holland’s Twitch stream last night. (For those who don’t use it, Twitch is a streaming service where people can watch you play video games live, play with you sometimes, and where those watching can ask questions via a chat function.)
Holland was asked who his favorite player to watch (Mike Trout) and his favorite player to watch in the National League, to which he replied Nolan Arenado.
Well, aside from that walk in the sixth, he got Arenado out twice in this game (on his way to a great big 0-fer on the night), in a game where the All-Star-bound Arenado even looked human at third base, for once. Holland jokingly agreed with me that Arenado likely has magnets in his glove when he plays the Giants. We will continue to investigate this very serious allegation throughout the season.
“An Ode To Gorkys Hernández”
Gorkys, I love you
Gorkys, I do
When you hit home runs, my heart beats only for you.
That was a Harry Potter deep cut, but I’m going to go with it.
Gorkys Hernández answered Desmond’s homer in the second with one of his own in the third. It was a shot to straightaway center field that left the bat at 104 mph for his tenth on the season.
Let’s review some facts here:
- Gorkys Hernández hit zero home runs in 2017.
- Today is June 26th and he has now hit his 10th, tying him with Evan Longoria for second most on the team, behind Brandon Belt.
Raise your hand if you had this in your pre-season predictions so I can call you a liar.
Hernández also got the winning RBI for..
...walking in the winning run? I’ll take it. After his home run in the third, the Giants had to scratch and claw for any run they could get. They got their first go-ahead run on an Andrew McCutchen sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the seventh that was scored on an excellent head-first dive by Austin Slater.
Unfortunately, Mark Melancon gave it back in the eighth to, and say it with me, Giant-slayer Ian Desmond.
But that was no matter, because the Rockies’ Adam Ottavino, who had been having a great year thus far, struggled in the eighth as well. After allowing a single and a steal to Brandon Crawford (who went 3-for-4 tonight), he intentionally walked Joe Panik, then walked Alen Hanson to load the bases for Hernández and the rest was history.
/Bryan Murphy rappells in from the roof, Mission Impossible style
Yes, yes, Bryan. I know that Buster Posey was up after that with the bases loaded and got an out. Bryan would like me to add this uninspiring fact:
“That was Buster Posey’s 100th plate appearance with the bases loaded. He’s hitless this season in 7 PAs, and for his career, he’s .226 / .232 / .429 (19 hits, 66 RBI) and his tOPS+ is 53, which means that for his career he’s 47% *worse* with the bases loaded than in any other situation.”
/Bryan Murphy throws a smoke bomb and disappears
Getting back to Brandon business, Belt went 0-for-4 on the night, but what he lacked on offense, he contributed on defense. Including two incredibly impressive plays.
The first was an unassisted double play to end the second inning that was so fast, you missed it if you blinked. The camera almost did and I never saw a replay. This play will live on as a whispered myth, a play people swear they saw but never really could remember the details of. (Please ignore the screengrab, if it still shows David Price. It is wrong.)
(If you’re reading this on Apple News, click here to watch the stripped out video.)
Next up was the double play that ended the game. You’re going to want to buckle up for this one. Sam Dyson was in to pitch the ninth and it wasn’t off to a great start. A leadoff single was allowed when everyone convened on a ball to shallow center field, the ball squirted out of the glove of Hernández, was then kicked by the umpire, where it rolled away from everyone. Gerardo Parra struck out for the third time of the night but Chris Iannetta walked.
With one out and two on, DJ LeMahieu hit into a roller coaster of a double play. It was a grounder to Joe Panik, who initially dropped the ball but managed to pick it up and throw to Crawford for the out at second base but it looked at first like Crawford might not be on the bag, but he threw to Belt at first who fell flat on his face but caught the ball like only a baby giraffe could. The Rockies challenged Crawford’s portion of the play but everyone was out and the game was over.
(If you’re reading this on Apple News, click here to watch the stripped out video. )
However, they are two games over .500, which feels like a huge deal for this team. They are also...
/dusts off ancient tomes
...going to have a winning month for the first time since June of 2016. They are currently 15-9 on the month, with only four games left to play.
June Swoons are overrated.