It can be difficult to evaluate a pitcher based on batted balls. It’s hard to examine or believe in a “pitch to contact” approach. Tonight, Andrew Suárez had a pitch to contact approach, but boy, did it look convincing. He may not have struck out a ton of batters, but the Diamondbacks couldn’t square the ball up against Suárez. Before the sixth inning, the only batters to get the ball out the infield against him were Paul Goldschmidt and Nick Ahmed.
His final line might not be that impressive—six innings, one run on seven hits with five strikeouts and two walks—but it doesn’t give credit to how well Suárez pitched tonight. Five of those hits were infield hits that perfectly split the defense. One of those hits was a swinging bunt down the third base line that refuse to roll foul. The Giants have had approximately 302 of those hit against them this year and tonight was no different.
Suárez thrived down in the zone where Arizona could do nothing else but swing over the top of it. He ran into trouble a couple times but only because the opposition hit the ball so poorly the infield couldn’t make plays. Suárez, however, was unflappable. You couldn’t flap him if you tried, but I don’t know why you would. Don’t you know you can’t flap this man?
When Suárez was confronted with his own limitations or the chaotic nature of batted ball luck, his confidence didn’t waver. During a sequence to Nick Ahmed, Suárez tried throwing him a curveball. Suárez flew open on his delivery and missed well outside. His failure didn’t deter him, though, and he backed the pitch up with another perfectly placed curveball. A lesser pitcher might lose faith in their ability to throw a pitch after missing so badly with it, but Suárez didn’t let his failure deter him.
Then in the sixth, after he had given up his only run via a double and balls-in-play shenanigans, he struck out the final two batters he would face on the night. The second strikeout came on a fastball at the letters which appeared to surprise Christian Walker since Suárez had spent so much of the evening at the knees.
With Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto coming back soon, Suárez is pitching like he doesn’t want to leave this rotation. That’s fine by me. I like watching him pitch.
I also like watching Will Smith pitch. Though I’ll be honest, I threw up a little bit when Jeff Mathis hit his fly ball to right field. I’ve watched too many routine fly balls carry out in Arizona and too many terrible, terrible hitters completely dismantle the Giants to not have visions of doom when someone like Mathis sends a ball to medium-deep right.
That being said, Smith sure looked good. He got Lamb to take a fastball at the belt and swing at a slider below the zone. He closed out the game by striking out John Ryan Murphy looking on another fastball. For whatever reason, the Diamondbacks weren’t picking up the fastball out of Smith’s hand tonight.
As well as the Giants pitched, it was nearly another tough-luck loss because the Giants had as much trouble hitting Patrick Corbin as the Diamondbacks had hitting Suárez. Through the first time through the order, the Giants flailed wildly at his slider as they have all season. They were fortunate that their only two hits the first time through were bunched together. Buster Posey smoked a double to the right-center gap and Austin Slater lined another double down the right field line to drive him home.
The Giants’ at-bats against Corbin got progressively better as the game wore on. They swung at fewer sliders below the zone and took more balanced swings in general. They needed more than six innings to solve Corbin though. Perhaps if each batter could have taken four or five at-bats against him, they could have scraped together more than one run against him.
Because Suárez and the combined efforts of Reyes Moronta, Tony Watson, and Will Smith kept the Diamondbacks at one run, Austin Slater’s inside-out double-palooza was all the offense the Giants needed. The Diamondbacks evidently had a plan to pitch Slater outside tonight because all three of his hits tonight came on fastballs away. Every time, though, Slater went with the pitch and hit it the other way.
Without Slater, Suárez would have gotten a ye olde fashioned Caining. But the Giants were due a win where the opposition outhit them. I haven’t counted how many times the Giants have outhit their opponents and still lost, but it sure seems like it happens all the danged time.
This was Austin Jackson’s first start since June 15. The Giants signed him to mash lefties and Bruce Bochy put him in today’s lineup see if he could mash Patrick Corbin because Gorkys Hernandez has been very bad against him. He did not mash Patrick Corbin or anyone for that matter, but he didn’t have bad at-bats. In the second, he exercised discipline other Giants had not yet displayed to work a 3-2 count. Corbin jammed him with a fastball inside, so he had the misfortune of his opponent throwing a perfect pitch.
In the seventh, he worked another 3-2 count against Yoshihisa Hurano. He took a splitter about six inches on the outside part of the plate, but he got called out on strikes. The results weren’t there tonight, but he wasn’t pressing tonight. He wasn’t trying to make things happen. He took a patient, disciplined approach to the plate, and it didn’t work out tonight. If he could get regular playing time, I think he could work his way out of his funk, but with Gorkys Hernandez and now Austin Slater playing as well as they have been, it’s going to be hard for Jackson to earn regular at-bats.