Look, the Giants had lost every game since I wrote this in the recap of their last win, so I’m going to go ahead and take full blame:
If they’re going to flounder in the middle, I’ll take rookie surprises over soul-sucking losses on a death march to the draft any day. But to each their own.
Apparently I tempted fate in the eyes of the baseball gods, who decided to smite all of us for my hubris.
Anyway, two weeks to the day of the Giants’ last win, they finally won another game and snapped their 11-game losing streak. They did so on the back of Chris Stratton, who pitched his finest game of the year exactly when the Giants needed it the most.
Stratton pitched a two-hit complete game shutout against the first place Rockies with seven strike outs and two walks on 114 pitches, for a game score of 93. He now leads the team with 10 wins, the first Giant to do so since 2016 and is the first Giants pitcher to complete a game this season.
And almost more impressive than all of that is that he kept Nolan Arenado off of the bases all night, going 0-for-4, which might be a record.
Stratton had been sent back down to Sacramento earlier in the season and wasn’t really expected to do more than a spot start here and there or potentially take on a bullpen role. But considering the skeleton crew that is the 2018 San Francisco Giants roster, he returned to the rotation in August and has been putting up quality start after quality start.
Over his last four starts, he’s given up six earned runs in 28 innings, including this complete game and an eight inning game against Arizona at the end of August. It was noted on the broadcast that Stratton had a career ERA against the Rockies of almost 8.00, but it didn’t show tonight.
Things have been bleak for the Giants this year and even bleaker this month. Since the Andrew McCutchen trade, the team had been listless outside of their starting pitching. The offense and bullpen have battled it out to see who could cause the most suffering. But tonight, the bullpen was removed from the equation and the offense did just enough to capitalize on Stratton’s strong effort.
They got on the board early, scoring two runs in the second inning after a pair of back-to-back singles from Nick Hundley and Joe Panik were knocked in by Austin Slater. The runners had advanced on a wild pitch to put them both in scoring position and Slater hit a ground ball right to where Trevor Story should have been playing. Story, however, was playing at the third base line and missed the ball despite a diving attempt.
With two outs, Stratton himself hit a line drive to center field, then Slater stole third during Gorkys Hernández’ at bat before the pitch went wild yet again, allowing Stratton to take second. It looked like the Giants were poised to do even more damage, with Hernández’ history against the Rockies this season, but he grounded out to end the inning and so it would go all night.
The Giants had eight hits to the Rockies’ two but never managed to score again. Outside of the Austin Slater hit, however, every time that they had runners in scoring position they forgot how to hit the ball, as per usual lately.
But, that one hit by Slater was all they would need to bank the win, thanks to Stratton’s excellent night.
Gregor Blanco had the highlight catch of the night in the sixth inning, leaping up to the wall to rob Arenado of an extra base hit and change the words in the “12 Days of Christmas” to “10 Blancos Leaping”:
Some not so great news was that Brandon Belt came out of the game in the seventh inning, likely due to his lingering knee pain. Both Brandons continue to struggle with knee issues and yet both continue to play for some reason. Despite the team being just three games away from elimination, both will likely play the rest of the season and tank all of the great numbers they put up this season before getting hurt because....reasons.
Additionally, with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks both winning tonight, this loss for Colorado couldn’t come at a worse time, as the Dodgers now tie the Cardinals for the second wild card spot and are only a half game behind Colorado for the division.
But now I’m just nit-picking. Of course I want a future where the Dodgers miss the playoffs. Who doesn’t? But, you know, I wanted to not see a 12-game losing streak a whole lot more. And we didn’t just get a win, we got a gem of a shutout from Chris Stratton. And with the way things have been going lately, it might just be the last nice thing we get this season.
So I’m going to wrap myself up in this memory as I try to sleep tonight and forget that the cold, dark, scary off-season is coming, and with it the uncertainty of the future. A future that already includes the Giants firing their longtime strength and conditioning coach as some kind of a scapegoat. It was a sign of things to come.
But hopefully so was Stratton’s start tonight. The Giants’ young pitchers have been dominant in the second half of this season and if nothing else, that part of the future looks bright.