Before the game, the Giants honored the 2010 World Series winning team. Today was chosen because the Giants are playing the Rangers, the team they beat in that World Series. Given their opponent, it feels a little less like taking a trip down memory lane and more like Joffrey showing Sansa her father’s severed head. The Rangers have had their fair share of painful memories in the golden age of Giants baseball from the 2010 World Series to the 2011 World Series to losing the AL West in 2012. Sam Dyson’s presence on the other side is enough of a reminder of the moment that inspired this Christmas sweater.
But for a game that centered on looking back to the past, how fitting it was for the game to begin in the same manner as last night’s. The Giants got out to a four-run lead for the second time in a row. The Giants haven’t scored four or more runs in consecutive games in two weeks. The last time they did it was August 12 and 13.
Last night they did it with an Andrew McCutchen dinger. Today, the did it with a Brandon Crawford dinger. It was a convincing dinger. If Crawford swung like that every time, he’d hit 300 dingers in a season.
I don’t remember the last time the Giants did something as aesthetically pleasing as that. McCutchen’s dinger last night was a beauty and the two #LongoDongos in New York had a rawness to them like a Cormac McCarthy novel or a Titus Andronicus album, but Crawford’s had something theirs didn’t. Perhaps because it was hit to place where home runs usually go to die. It defied expectations as all good art does.
Just like last night, a Giant made an error with two outs to pave the way for a Rougned Odor bomb. It was almost as if the Rangers were retaliating for bringing up the sore memory of 2010, so they figured they would bring up the sore memory of last night. The key difference here is that it didn’t tie the game.
The Rangers also didn’t tie or take the lead in the ninth despite Will Smith loading the bases. I am not into Will Smith: Shaky Reliever. I would like to take this model back to the store and get the previous version. You know, the one that could utterly embarrass hitters and pitch perfect innings like it was nothing.
It makes sense to have a torturous ninth on a day honoring the 2010 team, but this was just a little too on the nose for my liking.
Andrew Suárez made it through seven innings without giving up a run. He only allowed three hits, but he walked just as many. The first three innings were his most impressive. He located the fastball well and his slider looked sharp. In the last few innings, though, his command started to waver. In the fourth inning, things looked like they were coming undone. Rougned Odor bunted for a hit and then Suárez walked Elvis Andrus on four pitches. He went 2-0 to Nomar Mazara, but Suárez fought back and froze him with a 3-2 slider at the belt. Somehow, he made it through unscathed.
If the Giants hadn’t used five relievers in last night’s game, Suárez probably doesn’t go out for the seventh. But he honored Bruce Bochy’s faith and desperation and got through the inning.
Matt Moore pitched against the Giants for the first time since becoming a non-Giant. I wish Matt Moore no ill will. Dude almost no-hit the Dodgers, and he threw eight innings of two-run ball in an elimination game. Moore was a bloop and a bullpen meltdown from becoming a Giants legend. Still, I would have been very put out if the Giants failed to score against him. Things have not gone well for Moore since leaving San Francisco. In mid-June, he was bounced from the Rangers’ rotation which is really saying something. Surely, even the Giants’ offense is better than Matt Moore.
The Giants did manage to score against Moore. To further hammer home how bad Moore has been this season: Moore gave up a run in two innings, and his ERA went down.
That run came by the way of a Hunter Pence dinger. At one point, Pence was the one true hope for a Giant to hit 30 dingers for the first time since Bonds. In 2013, Pence hit 27 dingers. In 2018, Pence has hit two dingers. This was perhaps not an aesthetically pleasing dinger, Pence dingers rarely are, but it doesn’t make it any less of a joy to watch.
There is a non-zero chance this is the last dinger Hunter Pence hits in a Giants uniform. While it’s a sad thought, it would be extremely on-brand for Pence to hit his last dinger in San Francisco with “Underpants” written on his back.
In the sixth inning, Chase d’Arnaud was called out on strikes. In a weird turn of events, the third base umpire, Jeff Nelson, ran over and said, “No way, dude. He fouled that off.” Then the umpires reversed their decision. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve seen an umpire correct a call without the use of replay. In 1997, I remember a Cardinal tagging out JT Snow with his glove hand even though the ball was in his bare hand. The umpires talked about it for ten minutes and still didn’t reverse it. In the last game of the 2010 season, Andres Torres hit a ball down the line that kicked up chalk. The umpires still called it a foul ball despite there being physical proof otherwise. To see the umpires reverse their decision on a play where you couldn’t really tell what happened with replay was a bit shocking.