The Giants have fallen behind in the Battle of the Bay 2-1 and will now need to sweep in Oakland* to bring home that stupid trophy. Truly, this is the most heartbreaking and important thing to happen in sports today.
* They could also go 2-1 and just win the last game because nobody actually cares enough to come up with a meaningful tiebreaker.
The early innings were not a good indication of how this game would go. Andrew Suárez came out with pinpoint control and his fastball was topping out at 94. The A’s hitters looked helpless as they flailed at what he offered. Suárez didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, and he only allowed four hits all day. The problem is that those hits all came in a row, and they followed a walk. All those hits turned into runs, and Suárez left after five innings.
It wound up not being a great outing for Suárez on paper, but I didn’t see anything of concern from him. He pitched better than the results, in other words.
Meanwhile, the Giants were roping the ball off Sean Manaea in the first couple innings. Chase d’Arnaud led off with a liner down the line. Buster Posey ripped a ball that went right at Stephen Piscotty in right field. Brandon Crawford doubled down the left-field line and later scored on a Gorkys Hernández bloop.
The Giants sure looked like they were going get to Sean Manaea, but the lefty just got better as the game wore on. I suppose it was wishful thinking for the Giants to jump on a left-handed starter having a good year. As a team, the Giants have hit .243/.309/.385 against lefties good for a wRC+ of 90.
The A’s have had bullpen struggles all year long, but Ryan Buchter, Lou Trivino, and Blake Treinen have all been virtually unhittable. The Giants weren’t able to force the A’s to use their B-squad today, so they couldn’t piece together a comeback. Not even Trivino immediately issuing a four-pitch walk to Alen Hanson was enough to start a rally.
Ray Black had another strong outing. If you freaked out after his debut last week, shame on you. After striking out two more batters today, he’s struck out six in three innings, and he hasn’t allowed a baserunner since his first outing. When he has his breaking pitches going, batters really look helpless against him. Black got Nick Martini to 1-2 and threw him two straight sliders. Martini took both, but the pitches weren’t wasted as Black backed it up with a 97 MPH fastball at eye level. After the two sliders, Martini couldn’t resist the fastball and swung through it.
Conversely, Will Smith had his worst outing since giving up two runs against the Cubs on May 25. Smith gave up a run and nearly gave up a lot more than that since he finished the inning with the bases loaded. That run brings his ERA over 1.00, so probably the Giants should DFA him. Reyes Moronta also allowed a home run, so DFA him, too. You know who didn’t allow a run? Sam Dyson.*
*Though he certainly tried.
Gorkys Hernández got caught stealing in the second inning. It came immediately after he knocked in Crawford. I don’t want to say that it killed the rally, but it killed the rally. The Giants were 1-for-4 trying to steal against the A’s this weekend. None of these were “send the runner on 3-2 to stay out of the double play” situations either. It was Andrew McCutchen, Alen Hanson, and Gorkys Hernández trying to steal. I don’t know what sort of intel the Giants thought they had, but they might want to double check their advanced scouting before Friday.
You know how when people start dating someone, and then they say things like, “I don’t know how I lived before I met you.” Well, that’s the way I feel about Chase d’Arnaud. Between the dingers and that barehand play against the Cubs and the swagger and the walking up to “Pony” by Ginuwine, everything he does is rad.
He went 2-for-4 today with a home run to straightaway center off Manaea.
Over his career, he’s been worth -0.6 fWAR and he has a wRC+ of 60, so I’ll temper my expectations. But the dude is fun to watch, and I’m going to enjoy this while it lasts.
Brandon Belt popped up trying to bunt for a base hit today which undoubtedly rankled his detractors. Sometimes, it’s not going to work. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good strategy. At the beginning of the season, Russell Carleton wrote about how much more valuable Joey Gallo would be if he tried to bunt against the shift more often. Overall, Belt is a better hitter than Gallo, especially in terms of getting on base, so there’s less of an advantage to him doing it every time. Regardless, bunting against the shift is successful about 45% of the time. To put it another way, if an average hitter bunted against the shift every time, they would hit .450/.450/.450 in those situations. That’s good!
Belt should still bunt against the shift even if he looked like a dunkus today.
The Giants ended the first half of the season two games above .500. That’s two games over where I thought they would be, so I guess you could say this season has been a success so far.