The Bay Bridge Trophy is dumb. Nobody cares about the Battle of the Bay series. Except for maybe A’s fans, and that’s because they don’t have a proper rival. The A’s are the equivalent of the Greyjoys in Game of Thrones. They’re annoying but otherwise harmless. I might even root for them when they’re not trying to come into the Giants’ house and take things over. Still, they don’t hold a candle to LA-nnisters down south.
That doesn’t mean I don’t want the Giants to win that trophy.
That’s probably going to be the only trophy the Giants can win all year, and they just need three more to be able to take it home and shove in a closet until next year.
Madison Bumgarner looked like Madison Bumgarner tonight. He had command of all four of his pitches and he could spot the fastball at all corners of the zone. He masterfully played with the eye level of the A’s hitters throwing curves down below the zone and finishing them off with a fastball at the letters. The bendy boys were the key to his success tonight as he often resorted to the hook in two-strike counts.
He made one mistake to Chad Pinder, who sent a pitch into a tunnel in left-center. It wasn’t even that bad of a pitch. He threw him a fastball at the belt, it was off the plate by a few inches. Pinder had no business pulling it with that kind of power.
Pinder had already robbed Bumgarner of his first extra base hit earlier in the game. In the third, Bumgarner sent a pitch to the warning track, but Pinder tracked it down running headlong into the outfield wall.
Bumgarner only allowed the one run on the homer to Pinder. This was partly due to him being excellent. Largely, it was because Reyes Moronta completely bailed him out. Bumgarner began the seventh giving up a single to Stephen Piscotty and walks to Matts Olson and Chapman.
Moronta came in with the bases loaded and nobody out. The Giants had a meager 2-1 lead at that point. All it would have taken was a sacrifice fly. That would have tied the game sending it into extra innings where the Giants would have lost in the seventeenth.
But Moronta promptly struck out newly-minted Giant slayer, Chad Pinder. Then Pablo Sandoval made a diving catch on a line drive down the third base line. Finally, he got Nick Martini to ground out to short.
I’m stunned Johnathan Lucroy even hit the ball as hard as he did with the way Moronta threw the ball. When Moronta came into the game, the Giants had a 38.6% win expectancy. When he left, they had a 79.6% chance of winning the game.
Look at how happy he made Madison Bumgarner.
Get Bumgarner out of a jam like that one and you get a hug. pic.twitter.com/vOcCj1OSGg— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) July 14, 2018
If it weren’t for the offensive outburst in the bottom half of the inning, Moronta would have been the unanimous savior of the game. Until that point, this looked like another 2009-style game where if the pitching allowed three or more runs the Giants were boned.
They couldn’t get anything going against Edwin Jackson. In the fourth inning, the Giants had runners at the corners with one out. On a 2-2 count, with Brandon Crawford at the plate, Andrew McCutchen got thrown out trying to steal second. The A’s threw him out by about twenty feet. If it seems like the Giants have been caught stealing a lot this year, it’s because they have. Coming into the game, the Giants have been thrown out 18 times or in one-third of their attempts.
I understand the strategy of trying to steal in that situation. McCutchen or Bruce Bochy is trying to stay out of the double play. If you have a runner that can reliably steal bases, sure, go for it. McCutchen has not been a reliable base stealer. Over his career, he’s been thrown out 40% of the time.
He was thrown out by so much it looked like maybe he was trying to create an opportunity for Steven Duggar to score from third. I don’t know. But the Giants TOOTBLAN’d themselves out of a scoring opportunity.
So of course, Edwin Jackson fell off the mound on the next pitch and balked in a run. On one end of the balk spectrum, there’s the “What did they even see?” balks, and on the other end, there are the balks where the pitcher is stricken dead in the middle of their delivery. This was closer to the latter end.
A #SFGiants rally, one balk at a time pic.twitter.com/sqayqTmD4g— Ahmed Fareed (@FareedNBCS) July 14, 2018
It turned out that the Giants would not need that run because of one man: Steven Duggar. Also, the A’s bullpen completely falling apart in the seventh. But mostly, it was Duggar. Before his two-run double in the seventh, it was no certainty that the Giants were going to pull this one out. It feels a little strange to suggest a game that ended 7-1 might have ended differently without the contributions of one player, but Duggar had been at the center of all the Giants offense until they blew it open.
The good thing about Duggar is that he doesn’t have to hit like this to be valuable. He plays above-average defense at a premium position, so he doesn’t have to be a doubles machine. It would just be super rad if he were also a doubles machine.
In the first inning, Duggar hit a fly ball down the left field line. Chad Pinder came over, took a step into foul territory, reached back and borked it. The ball landed in fair territory, but the ruling on the field was foul.
Fair or foul or just plain funny? pic.twitter.com/ECcFf3Seiw— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) July 14, 2018
The Giants challenged it, but without a definitive camera angle, the call stood. This was dumb. While I agree that there was no way to tell if it would have gone fair or foul had Pinder not touched it, that shouldn’t matter. If a team screws up, they shouldn’t benefit from a call that can go either way. The umpire couldn’t tell where that ball was going to land, but everyone saw the A’s screw up. That’s the tiebreaker. If you screw up, something bad should happen. Steven Duggar should have been on second.
(If Duggar had hit a dinger after returning to the plate, I would have completely reversed my position.)