I fell for it again. After watching Dereck Rodriguez throw seven shutout innings with just one run of support and thinking that would be enough to win, I thought Madison Bumgarner throwing seven shutout innings with just one run of support was going to be enough.
Madison Bumgarner didn’t have as sharp of command as we’re used to seeing, but he still made a ton of excellent pitches. He got nine whiffs on his cutter and four on his curve. Had he been able to control his four-seamer a bit better, he might not have needed to turn things over to the bullpen.
Not that handing things over to the bullpen is bad thing for this iteration of the Giants. Not usually at least.
Ray Black gave up his first hit in 10 1/3 innings when he gave up a double to Marwin Gonzalez. Hadn’t Gonzalez already taken enough from the Giants? Did he really need to break up Black’s no-hitter as well? Did Tyler White also need to take his scoreless streak from him, too?
Last night’s loss was one of the most frustrating of the season, and today’s was nearly identical. It doesn’t matter that the Giants outpitched the best pitching staff in the majors. It’s almost impressive that the Giants nearly won two games in which they scored a combined two runs.
I thought the Astros running the bases like complete knuckleheads meant they were vulnerable. They had their opportunities to score and they wasted them.
The Astros hit two triples with less than two outs and failed to score each time. The first time, Josh Reddick tripled to lead off the second. Bumgarner got the next two batters to ground out to third which allowed him to intentionally walk the eighth-place batter, Jake Marisnick, to get to Dallas Keuchel who is normally disallowed from hitting because of a stupid, lizard-brain rule.
The second time, Tyler White, hit a liner to center that Steven Duggar dove for and never touched. Re-watching the play, I’m not sure Duggar ever had a shot. His first step looked good, and he took a nearly perfect route. It was just hit a foot outside of his range. Duggar has already made a couple remote plays, so he likely felt embiggened on this possible play, but maybe next time he’ll realize that keeping the ball in front of him is a perfectly cromulent strategy.
Bumgarner promptly got Reddick to ground to first and White got TOOTBLAN’d at home. It looked like the Giants were going to get out of the inning without giving up a run. Immediately after White got tagged out, I began writing this section. But then Reddick advanced on a ball in the dirt and then stole third. So after erasing a runner at third, Bumgarner found himself with yet another runner at third.
That’s when Bumgarner threw another pitch in the dirt. Reddick broke for the plate, but Nick Hundley and Bumgarner combined to cut him down. The Astros somehow managed to get TOOTBLAN’d at home twice in the same inning.
The Giants, meanwhile, have been thrown out at home just four times all year.*
*Doesn’t include force outs
Of course, the Giants wasted a leadoff triple of their own. Alen Hanson led off the seventh with a triple from the right side, but Steven Duggar popped out and Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen each struck out. At that point, the Giants still had a lead, and it seemed too cruel for the Astros to hit another go-ahead homer that late in the game, right?
Brandon Crawford once again played a key role in getting the Giants’ only run. To lead off the fourth, Crawford doubled down the left field line. The broadcast has been fond of showing that Crawford is among the opposite field hit leaders and for good reason. When Crawford was at his hottest this season, he was spraying the ball all over the field. When he stopped hitting the ball the other way, his production fell off. Maybe that’s a coincidence, but Crawford has displayed a nice opposite field approach recently and he’s also been much more effective at the plate.
Chase d’Arnaud singled to right with Crawford on second, I was a bit surprised that Ron Wotus sent Crawford. Wotus has been a risk-averse third-base coach, which isn’t a bad thing, and Crawford isn’t especially fast. It’s possible that Reddick could have thrown out Crawford with a perfect throw, but those are generally good risks to take.
Had the Giants hung on, the difference in this game would have been baserunning. But no, the difference was that the Astros are good at hitting, and the Giants aren’t.
Later in the game, d’Arnaud fouled a pitch off his knee and had to come out of the game. He managed to walk off the field under his own power, so it appears that he’ll avoid the DL. That’s good news because the Giants don’t have anyone else that can play second base and hit lefties. Alen Hanson can’t hit from the right side, his triple today notwithstanding, and Joe Panik can’t hit at all right now.
I’m just glad the game didn’t end with Austin Slater getting picked off. The only thing that makes me happy about the Giants right now are all their young players. If Slater had gotten picked off in the same game as Duggar diving for a ball and completely missing it, I’m not sure how much more joy this season would bring me.