The Mets and Giants played a baseball game on Saturday afternoon. It was a very nice afternoon! You can’t put a price on good weather, which made it a special day at the yard. Plus, the game went quickly, and let’s all pause a moment to appreciate that. Even though the game went 11 innings, it still took less than three hours, which Rob Manfred is going to be happy about.
How wonderful that Rob Manfred is happy! Like I always say, it’s good for people to be happy.
The Giants lost 2-1, with Hunter Strickland giving up the winning run in the 11th. If you want to rag on Strickland for that, that is of course your God-given right as a Giants fan, but if we’re being totally honest here, it was probably a mercy. No matter how long the bullpen held the Mets off the board today, the offense was on a mission to waste today’s pitching performance, and no force on earth could deter them.
Derek Holland was fantastic again this afternoon. Holland had an outstanding August, pitching 27.2 innings with a 2.60 ERA, striking out 27 and walking 11. On the first day of September, he kept that roll going, going 6 innings, only giving up one run on four hits, while striking out three and walking three. It was just another excellent Derek Holland start in a string of excellent Derek Holland starts.
And the bullpen backed him up, going 5 innings, striking out 7, walking 0, and giving up just three hits and the one run. But the offense let them all down, scoring just one run in 11 innings, continuing a week-long scoring drought (other than one inning last night). Starting with Sunday, the Giants have scored this many runs in each game: 3, 2, 1, 1, 7, 1.
So let’s check in on the Giants offense!
All three Giants players who came to the plate in the second inning struck out looking.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) September 1, 2018
Let’s not check in on the Giants offense!
Oh fine, we have to talk about it. Steven Matz recorded 11 strikeouts. That’s a career high for him. Considering that this Giants team strikes out more often than any team in Giants history — coming into the day, the gap in strikeout rate between this team and the second place Giants team (2014) is the same as the gap between the second place Giants team and the ninth place Giants team — it’s not a surprise to see them strike out a lot in any individual game.
Today’s 4-7 hitters, Nick Hundley, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, and Alen Hanson, all struck out at least twice on the day, with Hanson fanning three times and Belt taking home the sombrero. On the whole, the team struck out 16 times, which sure is a lot of strikeouts. This is a new era of offense, a new, high strikeout era, where you accept that there’s gonna be a lot of swinging and missing, but it’ll come with positive tradeoffs that mean the team scores more runs.
But the Giants’ rise in strikeouts hasn’t led to a rise in any positive offensive category: the team hits for a low average, doesn’t walk, and doesn’t hit for power. Which you could see today! Because today, they didn’t hit for average and they didn’t walk.
For one batter, there was a little bit of power, at least. Evan Longoria hit a solo home run to open up the scoring in the bottom of the 4th, his 15th dinger of the year.
For all the rest of the batters, there was no power. Longoria’s was the only extra base hit on the afternoon for the Giants, and they only had three hits total in the game, with the other two coming off the bat of Austin Slater. After the rookies provided a jolt of energy last night, Bruce Bochy went back to his veterans, and it went the way it’s gone all year.
In the top of the 6th, Alen Hanson saved the Giants with his defense, and yes, I double checked that before hitting the Publish button on this recap. Todd Frazier walked with two outs, then stole second. Nick Hundley’s throw on the steal sailed into center field, but Hanson, clever shortstop that he is, deked Frazier by tagging him with nothing in his glove, confusing Frazier long enough that he didn’t take off for third.
But it was the next play where Hanson really took advantage of a Frazier mistake. Michael Conforto hit a slow grounder between second and third base. Hanson, knowing he had no chance to throw Conforto out at first, saw Frazier taking a wide turn around third and threw to Longoria, easily getting Frazier. Here’s the video:
With his offense having declined considerably as the year’s gone on, just like the rest of the team, Hanson showing defensive effectiveness is important if he wants to stick around on the roster next year.
In my opinion, if the Giants want to be more successful, they should consider scoring more runs. Something to think about!