Last night’s game was a little easier to stomach. Chris Stratton was making his first major league start since July 3, and it wasn’t that surprising that the Giants’ sixth starter had a rough return. That isn’t to say that it wasn’t disappointing. It would have been far, far preferable for Stratton to come out and throw seven innings of one-hit ball, but the actual outcome was expected.
Tonight, the first inning once again proved problematic for the Giants’ starter, but this time it came from an unlikely source. Andrew Suárez had a very uncharacteristic outing in which he couldn’t throw strikes early, and he gave up more than five runs for the first time as a major leaguer.
In the first, Suárez had two on and two out before any damage was done. On a 3-0 pitch to Stephen Souza Jr., home plate umpire, Bill Welke, gifted a strike to Suárez.
I don’t know if I’ve ever said this before, but I really would have preferred if the Giants pitcher had walked that batter on four pitches.
On the next pitch, Souza tripled on a grounder down the right field line. The Giants had shifted their outfield for the right-handed Souza to pull—he’s hit fewer than 10 percent of his grounders the other way over his career—so Andrew McCutchen couldn’t cut it off, and it rolled all the way into the corner.
The next batter, Nick Ahmed, singled home Souza to make it 3-0. Then, Ketel Marte homered off a hanging curveball at the belt to make it 5-0. Remember, all of this happened with two outs. The triple to Souza was a little unlucky, but Suárez wasn’t helping himself out. Out of 25 pitches, Suárez only threw 12 strikes. That’s not something we’re used to seeing from Suárez as one of the keys to his success has been limiting walks. His 5.8 walk percentage is the best out of the Giants starters.
It was especially strange considering Welke was giving out strikes like he was Oprah.
Suárez appeared to settle in after that. He made it through the next three innings without allowing a runner past second. But he ran into trouble again in the fifth. After a leadoff single by Eduardo Escobar, Suárez got two quick outs. But then, Souza again, came up and doubled off the centerfield wall. It didn’t matter where the Giants positioned their defense this time because Souza missed hitting it out by about two feet.
Ahmed again followed it up with another two-out hit, but this one went over the fence. Kerry Crowley felt it necessary to share this fun fact.
Now 8-2 D'backs after Nick Ahmed homers. The D'backs shortstop has 15, no Giants player has that many this year.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) August 5, 2018
Remember when Brandon Belt was on pace for 37 home runs? It was a simpler, happier time. The Giants were capable of scoring more than three runs per game. Brandon Belt had an appendix. Chris Stratton was an effective pitcher. Manny Machado wasn’t on the Dodgers. Johnny Cueto didn’t need Tommy John.
But Ahmed wasn’t done, oh no. Did you really think the Giants could corral the sheer, unlimited power that is Nicolas J. Ahmed? Derek Law was given a chance to regain some confidence in a low-leverage situation and prove that he can be an effective major league pitcher again. Law promptly hung a curve to Ahmed, who predictably homered off it.
In case you’re wondering, no, the Giants don’t have a player with 16 home runs either.
Suárez may have had the worst outing of his career, but another rookie had one of his best. Steven Duggar hit the first home run of his career and for an encore he made a spectacular play to rob David Peralta of extra bases.
My favorite part of this play (aside from how Duggar didn’t crash into McCutchen and break all four of their legs) is how Peralta ran all the way to third because there was no way he caught that. Even the third base coach, Tony Perezchica, didn’t believe it, and he watched the play from start to finish. Peralta even stood at third until he saw the replay of the catch on the jumbotron.
He was so, so confident that Duggar didn’t catch it. The smugness exuded from every pore and some got onto the playing surface. The grounds crew had to come out and pour on that sawdust that elementary school custodians use to clean up vomit. There weren’t a ton of things to be happy about in this game, but watching Peralta stand there with his hands on his hips going, “Nah, no way he caught. That’s a triple for Davey P right th—aw, dang” was simply the best.
Andrew McCutchen went 5-for-5 for the second time in his career. The last time he did this was back in May of 2010 against the Cubs. McCutchen had a six-hit game earlier in the season. You may remember how it ended.
I’m not good enough with the play index to quickly see how many times a player went 5-for-5 with a home run and the team failed to score more than three runs, but I can’t imagine it happens all that frequently.
It’s been bittersweet to watch McCutchen rake since the non-waiver trade deadline passed. On one hand, it’s rad to see an unequivocally good dude do good baseball things in a Giants uniform. On the other, he’s not going to get the Giants into the playoffs, and he’ll be more valuable to the Giants’ future success in a trade. Games like this are just going to drive his trade value up.
If the Giants don’t put him through waivers and trade him, it will be a mistake. If we don’t get to watch McCutchen be a good Giant for the rest of the season, it will be a bummer.
Can you even imagine what it must have been like to be a Pirates fan the last few years?