This game was the baseball equivalent of Zeno’s Paradox. The Giants halved the National’s lead three times in this game, but they could never reach them. It didn’t help that every time the Giants got closer, they gave a run back.
Considering they were down 5-0 at the end of the second, I suppose we should be happy the Giants made the game competitive. The offense knocked Gio Gonzalez out by the end of the fourth inning. The Nationals had to use six different relievers. Sean Doolittle had to get a four-out save.
This is better than getting blown out 7-0, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t extremely frustrating watching Evan Longoria strike out in the sixth or Mac William and Brandon Crawford strike out in the seventh or Andrew McCutchen pop out in the eighth.
It was only a matter of time until Dereck Rodriguez got knocked around. His sub-two ERA wasn’t going to last forever. Rodriguez didn’t look sharp today. He couldn’t throw his curveball close enough to the plate to tempt hitters to swing. He had trouble locating the fastball.
But it’s not as if the Nationals were blistering the ball all over the field. The only fly ball they hit in their four-run second was Matt Adams’ two-run double. Other than that, it was all ground balls up the middle and a couple line drives. Adams only came up because Anthony Rendon hit a double-play ball too softly.
The BABIPdook was not with Rodriquez in other words. He didn’t pitch great, sure, but he didn’t pitch so poorly that his earlier success is definitely a mirage.
That double-play that could have been wound up being one of the biggest plays in the game. If the Giants had been able to turn it, Adams doesn’t come up and knock in two runs in the next at-bat. Maybe the game goes into extra innings and the Giants win it with a pinch-hit dinger from Madison Bumgarner in the fourteenth.
Although if the Giants turn it, maybe that sends them into a dark timeline where instead of getting beamed in the nip, Gorkys Hernandez breaks his hand trying to bunt for a hit. The Giants call-up Steven Duggar who gets dared into climbing the home run sculpture in Miami. He falls off and breaks his arm. Without a competent center fielder for two months of the season, the Giants miss a wild card spot by a game.
Probably, the game would have stayed closer though.
I’m not sure if the Giants would have turned it had Brandon Crawford been playing shortstop instead of Alen Hanson. Hanson looked fine on the exchange, but who knows? Maybe Crawford is just slightly faster turning it and gets a little more oomph on the throw and the ball beats Rendon by half a step.
Fortunately for the Giants, Gio Gonzalez also didn’t look good today. The Giants threatened in the first two innings, but couldn’t get the big hit. Then, in the third, Nick Hundley hit a three-run dong to bring the Giants within two. Gonzalez threw Hundley a curveball, and Javier Lopez pointed out that Gonzalez didn’t throw a curve after that.
Without a third pitch, he allowed the Giants to load the bases in the fourth to knock him out of the game, but that brought in Justin Miller. The first pitch Miller threw was a disgusting slider to Andrew McCutchen, and it became immediately obvious the Giants would be lucky to get one run out of that situation. Which they did with a sacrifice fly.
However, the Nationals immediately got that run back when Ty Blach threw a hanging curve to Bryce Harper and Harper clobbered it, prompting this:
The Giants absolutely could afford Harper even with all the money they have committed. The luxury tax threshold is just an excuse for teams to not spend. The Giants could go over $30 million over and barely even feel it.
They’re still not getting Harper.
Why would Harper want to go to the Giants when he could make the same money playing for a legitimately good team like the Yankees or the Cubs or *deep sigh* the Dodgers? Unless he’s the anti-Denard Span and loves seagulls, I don’t see it happening.
Note: I would love to be proven wrong.
Miraculously, the home run he gave up to Harper was the only run Blach gave up. Following the dinger, he loaded the bases with two walks and a single. But his curveball command came back, and he pitched his way out of his own mess. He wound up pitching two more quality innings after escaping disaster, keeping the Giants close.
Nick Hundley managed to add on another run in the seventh, but once again, the Giants gave that run back when Cory Gearrin gave up a double to Spencer Kieboom. The Giants created a ton of opportunities to tie the game or take the lead. They had the bases loaded, one out situation in the fourth. After Hundley’s double in the seventh, they had runners at second and third with just one out. In the eighth, they created another runners at second and third situation, but the Nationals brought in Sean Doolittle to get McCutchen to pop out.
Since coming back from the DL, Mac Williamson is 11-for-47 with nearly a 30% strikeout rate and no home runs. Four of his hits have been doubles, so the power hasn’t completely vanished. There’s still a lot of swing and miss in his game right now. This was a predictable development for Williamson. As soon as he gets hot, he slams his head into a wall or gets stuck pulling a washing machine out of a burning building or falls into an infinite swirling portal from which there is no escape.
He hasn’t been dreadful by any stretch, but it sure stinks that all the progress he’s made looks like it’s been reset. I’m still confident he’ll get things going. All it will take is him hitting a dinger or two for him to look like he’s fully back.
Probably he should hit two dingers and they should both happen tomorrow.