In a way, this is a better loss than the two in the Astros series. The Pirates at least had the decency to hit their game-winning homer in the second inning instead of waiting until the eighth or ninth. The Giants were going to lose this game no matter what. At least they didn’t hang around waiting for a win only for Marwin Gonzalez to bellow in their ear, “This game could have only been lost by you, and now you’re going to lose it.”
Elias Diaz and Josh Bell let the Giants know what was up well in advance, but the Giants insisted on trying to compete with all 27 of their outs. They ended up with five whole runs. That’s a normal amount of runs!
It took until the fourth for the Giants to get a baserunner and until the fifth to get a hit. Mind you, they weren’t going up against Charlie Morton or Dallas Keuchel. They were going against Ivan Nova who had a 4.65 FIP and 5.04 DRA coming into tonight.
The Giants only had six hits. Somehow, the Giants strung three of those hits together in the same inning to score runs. Plural. More than one. They did that twice. They hadn’t scored more than once in a game since Sunday. They more than doubled their run total from the previous series in one game, and all they had to do was score like a normal team.
However, the Giants wouldn’t have scored those three runs in the ninth if they hadn’t allowed the Pirates to take an eight-run lead. The Pirates thus threw out Casey Sadler for mop-up work. Had the Pirates used one of their good relievers like Felipe Vázquez or Keone Kela or, you know, Kyle Crick, the Giants would have gone down 1-2-3 and lost 10-2. At least they got to save some face.
When a game begins with an outfield assist, it can be a bit misleading. Outfield assists are exciting! The outfielder you root for gets to show off their arm. The hitter you’re rooting against looks like a dingus. It’s good fun all the way around. It swings the momentum into the defending team’s dugout, or at least that’s the idea.
The leadoff runner nearly hitting a double may be out, but basically, they hit a double to lead off the game. That might indicate that the starting pitcher is going to get hit hard, and that’s what happened to Andrew Suárez. With the help of Andrew McCutchen throwing out Adam Frazier, Suárez made it through the first inning unscathed. He only gave up the back-to-back dingers to Elias and Bell, but the Pirates hit him hard all night long.
It was not the thing you wanted to see after Suárez’s last start, and that’s saying a lot. Just about anything would be preferable to Suárez’s last start. The direct-to-DVD sequel to Starship Troopers. Your 14-year-old cousin’s Fortnite stream. The 2017 Giants.
This was better, but not by a lot. With a little worse defense or batted-ball luck, this could have been another disaster outing for Suárez. He had trouble putting hitters away with two strikes because he kept getting too much of the strike zone.
A more alarming development is his dropped velocity over his last four starts.
Brooks Baseball had his average fastball at 92.2 and he had been sitting at 93 for most of the year. Tonight, his average fastball clocked in at 92.6.
It might be nothing. Or it might mean that Suárez has a dead arm and will be useless for the rest of the year. I would much prefer the former.
Reyes Moronta and Pierce Johnson each get gold stars for being the only Giants pitchers to not give up a run today. This is what we’ve come to expect from Reyes Moronta, but it’s good to see Johnson succeed.
I had to go back and watch Johnson’s outing because I thought it was nonsense the Pirates still got to bat in the ninth. He sure did throw a lot of curves tonight. Johnson has been about 50 percent fastballs, 25 percent curves, and 25 percent cutters, but tonight he threw curves more than his other two pitches combined. In his last outing, he threw curves and fastballs about equally, so maybe he’s starting to go Lance McCullers and just throw his curve all the time. Or maybe it’s just two games.
Mark Melancon pitched fine. He wasn’t missing a lot of bats, but he wasn’t giving up a lot of hard contact either. The inning just began with two straight errors on plays that probably should have been made. If Brandon Belt, an experienced first baseman, were playing first instead of Austin Slater, Evan Longoria probably wouldn’t have thrown the ball down the right field line. Belt, if he didn’t scoop it, would have kept it in front of him at least.
That error put runners at second and third with no outs, and Melancon did his best to pitch out of it. He wound up giving up two runs before being taken out, the second of which came on a Texas leaguer. Melancon gave up another two runs when Derek Law gave up a three-run homer on the second pitch he threw.
Mike Krukow said that Melancon has “buzzard’s luck,” which you can add to the list of phrases I hadn’t heard until this year along with “Our ass is in the jackpot.” It doesn’t seem like anything is going right for Melancon this year. Even when he has things going moderately well, things fall apart behind him. Those sorts of things will happen when he can’t strike anyone out, though.
On the bright side, he’s having a much better year than Wade Davis or anyone in the Rockies’ bullpen not named Adam Ottavino.
The same cannot be said about Derek Law. Law used to be one of the more effective pitchers on the Giants’ staff. Now, he’s not even in the top two most effective Dere(c)k’s on the roster. I don’t know how it happened, but Law has become the new Josh Osich. Or is it Steven Okert? Whatever. It doesn’t matter. Neither of those guys were good, and Law isn’t good either.