The Giants lost to the Oakland A’s tonight, 4-3.
It was yet another shaky start for Jeff Samardzija, though he only allowed two runs. He had no command, issuing two walks and allowing two hits in four innings of work. In 55 pitches, he threw only 29 strikes, with Derek Holland warming up as early as the third inning.
Samardzija was pulled in the bottom of the fourth for a pinch hitter and Holland finally entered the game and was one of two bright spots for the Giants. Since moving the bullpen earlier this month, he has been exceptional, and that was even more apparent tonight. Holland pitched two innings and struck out five of the seven batters he faced, allowing one hit. His sinker was perfection, sitting at 93 mph with late motion and fooling absolutely everyone.
The other bright spot of tonight’s game was Steven Duggar, or as he will henceforth be named, “Double-Double” Duggar.
Eh, we’ll workshop that.
Duggar’s first two at-bats were both doubles, after he hit two last night as well. His first tonight, in the second inning, resulted in the Giants first run, as he scored on a single by Alen Hanson. Duggar’s speed allowed him to challenge Khris Davis’ arm in both getting to second initially and running out the single to score. I couldn’t tell if that was his call or if he was being waved, but it worked out in the end as he scored easily.
Duggar’s next double came in the fourth inning on the heels of a double from Gorkys Hernández, allowing Hernández to score. Duggar himself then scored on a single from Austin Slater, the pinch hitter for Samardzija, giving the Giants a 3-2 lead.
And that was all she wrote for the Giants offense. Despite 10 hits, they weren’t able to capitalize on anything later in the game. The team left 11 runners on base, and were only 4-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
This would have been okay, if it weren’t for a another rough appearance for Tony Watson. Watson had a tough game on Wednesday as well, allowing a home run in the seventh inning that tied the game, resulting in a 13 inning walk-off win for the Giants.
Tonight, unfortunately, he was not so lucky. This time he allowed a two-run shot to Mark Canha. Watson struggled during his entire inning of work, allowing two singles, a home run and a walk. He limited the damage to just the two runs, however. But that would be enough for Oakland to hold on and win.
Something that probably didn’t help the Giants’ chances of winning this game was the fact that Brandon Belt was ejected between the fourth and fifth innings. Belt wasn’t the final batter of the fourth inning, but he may as well have been. He was called out on a checked swing.
In Belt's defense, this is not a swing. pic.twitter.com/NRp6hs2euy— Ahmed Fareed (@FareedNBCS) July 15, 2018
Belt was...unhappy, to say the least. However he went back to the dugout and Posey came out and got the final out of the inning. Then, when Belt came back out to take the field, he jawed off at third base umpire Greg Gibson, who had ruled his check as a swing. Gibson immediately ejected Belt and he lost his cool altogether, throwing his glove to the ground and having to be held back by Andrew McCutchen and Gorkys Hernández as he let loose some parting words for Gibson before leaving the field.
Greg Gibson called Belt out in the fourth, threw him out when the inning was over: pic.twitter.com/KTiFUma6Fs— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) July 15, 2018
Belt (probably): “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!”
After the game, Bruce Bochy said he will have a talk with Belt about letting go of these things so that he doesn’t get thrown out of close games like this. And I can understand that. Belt is arguably the team’s best hitter, and you don’t want to lose him because he can’t bite his tongue.
However, it was a bad call made worse by the thin skin of Greg Gibson. It’s unclear what Belt said in passing, but it was in passing. He was moving on to his position, but Gibson couldn’t allow this affront to his dignity and had to continue his power play. It would have been easy enough for Gibson, too, to let it go. But he didn’t.
Am I saying Belt was right for saying something to him there? No. But it would have been just as easy for Gibson to ignore it as it would have been for Belt to just keep walking. And considering it was Gibson’s bad call that started it, it sure seems to me like he should have ignored it.
But, Ump Show is going to Ump Show.
Mark Canha had this to say after the game:
Mark Canha, on the bat toss: “I got on Twitter and got out in front of this a little bit, and I’m sure a lot of San Franciscans are offended by that, and I’m sorry.”— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) July 15, 2018
Then he took it back.
“People getting offended by bat flips is so silly. I’m not sorry. I’m not really sorry.”
I speak for the opinions of myself here when I say: Good for you, Canha. You did a good thing and won the game for your team. You’re allowed to celebrate it. That may not be the popular opinion about these things, but man, it’s baseball. It’s not surgery. Let players have a little fun.
This game makes things interesting for the second half, in terms of the rotation. Samardzija said after the game that he’s been having trouble keeping his shoulder loose, which could set up a DL stint for him if the Giants need it to (or, you know, if he actually needs one. Sometimes you can’t tell the difference.)
Holland’s dominance over his last few appearances has made things difficult as well, because it’s hard to justify him not being in the rotation after a game like this where he and Samardzija both pitched to drastically different results.
Sure, it wasn’t a blowout or anything, but you could tell that Samardzija wasn’t right. And Holland was superb. Just as he was superb in his spot start on Tuesday. So it will be interesting to see what the Giants decide to do about the rotation in the second half. Ideally it would be nice to keep Holland where he is, as an effective long reliever and spot starter. But with one of the starters struggling, I don’t know how the Giants justify it aside from Samardzija’s contract.
Tomorrow is the final game before the All Star break. They are sitting at three games over .500 and fourth in the division. Even though it’s a close division race, they are going to have to do something to shake things up in the second half. And the rotation is going to be one issue to watch.