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Giants can’t back up chair’s strong outing, lose 4-3 in the 11th

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The Giants tied the game after a dropped third strike and controversy with a chair, but they couldn’t pull it out in the end.

San Francisco Giants v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Back in 2011, I went to a Giants and A’s game at the Coliseum. The A’s hit a ball down the right field line and a security guard forgot to move a folding chair. The ball, which would have caromed out to Cody Ross, got stuck in the chair and Hideki Matsui scored from first. The ground rules of Oakland Coliseum state that the chairs are part of the field of play. If the ball hits a chair, it’s still a live ball. Why should it be different if a player hits a chair?

Ergo, Mark Melancon was well within his right to hit Stephen Piscotty with a chair.

This was a weird play. You’re just going to have to watch it.

It’s not like he did it on purpose. It’s part of the field, and he was just trying to get it out of the way. If Melancon doesn’t move the chair, the ball gets stuck underneath it, and the A’s are still mad. Really, if the A’s and their fans want to be mad at someone, it should be the ownership for not getting them out of a ballpark where the on-the-field bullpens have more folding chairs than a PTA meeting.

Whatever, the A’s still won. Maybe when they win the Bay Bridge Trophy tomorrow they can melt it down and use it to build a bench capable of seating a major league bullpen.

The whole chair controversary overshadows a three-hit game from Hunter Pence. His double down the line was reminiscent of his walk-off against the Padres a few weeks ago. This came off of Blake Treinen who can throw 90 MPH sliders that start at the top of the zone and plummet to the dirt. He had another timely hit in the seventh to knock in Buster Posey. After coming back from the DL, Pence had an 83 wRC+ coming into tonight. That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, but it also doesn’t remind me of the inexorable flow of time, that our bodies are caught in a perpetual state of entropy.

Pence’s game-tying, Twitter-breaking double was only made possible by the dropped third strike rule. I’ve gone on record as saying it’s a dumb rule. You know what else is a dumb rule? Folding chairs being in the field of play, so here we are.

A chair nearly won the game for the Giants, but what lost the game was all the walks. Until the ninth inning, Giants pitchers had only given up two hits, but they walked eight batters in eight innings. They eventually wound up with nine through eleven innings. Not even Tyler Chatwood walks batters at that clip. It’s hard to win when you give the other team ten free baserunners (Derek Holland beamed Jed Lowrie in the eighth).

It’s also hard to win when you don’t score runs. This was the eleventh time in sixteen July games the Giants have scored three or fewer runs, and they had two extra innings to work with. For the second game in a row, the Giants went hitless through the first three innings.

The Giants got their first hit and their first run on a Brandon Belt dinger. It was his first dinger since June 28. It was also his first hit in his last 18 at-bats. At one point in the season, Belt was on pace to hit 37 dingers. Now, he might be lucky to get to 20. Since coming back from appendicitis on June 16, Belt had been slugging just .356. Of course, Belt would have an MVP-caliber season derailed by appendicitis. Getting hit by another baseball would be too predictable. The baseball gods needed to spice things up, so they threatened to blow up his appendix.

Madison Bumgarner’s outing started out great. He struck out five over four shutout innings. The only ball the A’s hit hard against him was a double from Stephen Piscotty. He could throw cutters on the hands of right handers and tempt batters to swing at curveballs below the zone.

Then the fifth happened, and Bumgarner completely lost command of the strike zone. He began the inning walking Matt Olson on four pitches. He got a little unlucky when Matt Chapman reached on a Texas leaguer that Andrew McCutchen didn’t see and Alen Hanson couldn’t get to. He then walked Chad Pinder to load the bases with nobody out, but Reyes Moronta did not come in to bail him out. Not only did Bruce Bochy not take him out, Curt Young didn’t even go out to talk to him/buy the bullpen time to warm up. The bullpen was even warming up at that point. The Giants were going to let Bumgarner pitch out of his mess even though he had thrown 9 balls in 14 pitches.

I understand that he’s Madison Bumgarner, and he’s earned the trust to pitch his way out of jams. But when Bumgarner loses command of the strike zone like that, something’s wrong.

Bumgarner walked the next batter though he should have struck him out.

At that point, Sam Dyson started warming up and Buster Posey took it upon himself to buy time. Perhaps if Dyson were instructed to warm up a batter sooner, he could have come in before Bumgarner walked the second run in.

Bumgarner finished with six walks which is the most he’s ever issued in a start. Home plate umpire, Brian Knight, had a wonky zone, but Bumgarner really didn’t help himself by throwing the majority of his pitches well away from the plate. Knight seems like the kind of umpire that’s more likely to call a borderline strike if the pitcher has been throwing strikes and vice versa.

Dyson deserves credit for getting out of a bases-loaded, nobody out with only run one scored. He wasn’t quite as dominant as Reyes Moronta was last Friday, but he also didn’t need Sandoval to save a bases-clearing double down the line. He did what a sinker-baller is supposed to do: get a double play.

Brandon Crawford is Good: Volume CCLXII

Statcast didn’t track this pop-up, but using the catch probability breakdown and some estimation on how far Crawford traveled, that must have had less than a 5% catch probability. It hung in the air for 5.5 seconds and Crawford went at least 120 feet. The only thing he did wrong was he almost overran it.

Brandon Crawford is Good: Volume CCLXIII

My favorite part of this play was how Hanson didn’t crash into Crawford and break his leg.