Today, the Giants brought back the Crazy Crab, a terrible mascot introduced to distract fans from how bad the 1984 Giants were. How appropriate it is then, that the Giants continued one of their most miserable offensive stretches in recent memory. Not even the novelty of a hated anti-mascot could mask how feckless the Giants have been. The Giants have lost five out of six, and they haven’t scored more than three runs in a game since Sunday. They’ve only scored more than two once. It’s a minor miracle the Giants haven’t lost all six of those games. It’s as if the Giants offense heard Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto were coming back, so they figured they could take some time off.
But Cueto and Samardzija would have to be good for that to work out. Not that they’re bad or will continue to be bad. Samardzija pitched fine today even though he gave up three runs in five innings.
It was his first start since May 29, and while it may not have been met with the same fanfare or hype as Johnny Cueto’s return (on account of Samardzija being so very, very bad this year), he showed more promise than his shimmying counterpart. One concern with Samardzija before he returned to the disabled list was his velocity. While he wasn’t at 2017 levels, he picked up where he left off when he kind of sort of looked like he was putting things together. His sinker sat around 90-93 and his four-seamer topped out at 96.
Another concern with Samardzija was his command. In 35.2 innings, he walked 23 batters. That’s not quite Tyler Chatwood levels, but it’s also not good. Today, he didn’t walk anyone until the fifth, and that came on a pretty close 3-2 pitch. It was the only batter Samardzija walked in five innings though he threw just 65% pitches.
Perhaps, the most encouraging thing from Samardzija’s start was his ability to throw his curve for strikes. He threw 60% of his bendy boys for strikes even if he only got one whiff on it. He had a nice sequence against Matt Carpenter in which he missed with two curves to begin the at-bat, but then fought back to bring it 3-2. He finished Carpenter off with a curve down and in and Carpenter swung over the top of it. He didn’t lose confidence in the pitch after missing badly with it twice, so that was nice to see.
He gave up three runs in five innings and only struck out three, so it’s not like He’s Back or anything. He pitched encouragingly, and he got dinged by rotten BABIP luck. Of the seven hits he gave up, only one was an extra-base hit. Carlos Martínez bounced a chopper over Pablo Sandoval’s head because he was playing even with the bag.
Here were the hit probabilities of the Cardinals’ seven hits off Samardzija according to Statcast:
· Kolten Wong, Single: 27%
· Carlos Martínez, Double: 7%
· Marcell Ozuna, Single: 39%
· Paul DeJong, Single: 89%
· Kolten Wong, Single: 11%
· Francisco Peña, Single: 75%
· José Martínez, Single: 68%
Three that should have been hits, one that could have gone either way, and three dinks. Of course, that’s the inherent risk when Samardzija doesn’t miss bats like he used to. Can’t get BABIPed to death if the other team can’t put the ball in play.
That’s just the way things are going for the Giants over the past week. In July, Giants opponents have a .347 BABIP. Only the Pirates and A’s have been unluckier and/or worse. The Giants have had some terrible pitching mixed in, but it hasn’t all been their fault.
Perhaps the Giants could manage if they could score runs. Since Monday, the Giants have scored just ten runs. If not for Brandon Belt’s double in the seventh inning and single in the eighth, it would have been their worst six-day stretch since April of 2015 according to the Baseball Reference Play Index. I know six games is a rather arbitrary cut-off point, but six games is basically a week, and this has been one of the bottom 50 weeks since they moved to San Francisco.
They’ve run up against good pitching from Tyler Anderson, Luke Weaver, and now Carlos Martinez, but it’s not as if these guys are Cy Young candidates or even having particularly great years. The Giants have hit like bozos all week. The Giants made Bud Norris look like Mariano Rivera in the ninth. Norris is having a good year, but seriously, c’mon. It’s Bud Norris.
They almost made a game of it against Jordan Hicks. Hicks is fun because he throws as hard against Aroldis Chapman, but he’s not a hobgoblin so you can actually enjoy it when he pitches. Hicks might not be very good, though, because while he can throw a 105 MPH fastball, he doesn’t really know where it’s going. Even though the strikeouts have been rising for him lately, he still has a lower K/9 than Andrew Suárez, Derek Holland, and Cory Gearrin.
Sometime in the seventh inning, Kruk and Kuip read from a book written by Mrs. Blandino’s third grade class about the Giants. The book was centered around the theme cause and effect and the chapters all read like this:
Sam Dyson pitched, and got the batter out. He screamed as the crowd cheered. He made the last out, so the Giants won the game.
Mike Krukow announced the Giants batters hit a home run, so as a result, everyone screamed at each other with happiness.
It sounds like a very good book with lots of screaming, and Mrs. Blandino’s class should be very proud of themselves.
I would like to submit a chapter for the second edition of this book.
Tommy Pham fouled a pitch into the dirt. The ball bounced up and hit him in the beans. He screamed. With pain. His teammates screamed. With joy.