The winning streak is dead. Long live the winning streak.
The shutout streak is also dead. Long live the shutout streak.
Considering this loss has adversely affected the Dodgers’ playoff chances, there could be worse outcomes. Still, it was nice to see the Giants play competent baseball again before the chill, 50-degree winds of winter cover the lands with dead leaves and gunk and stuff.
At the beginning of the game, the broadcast displayed a graphic showing the Giants were third in the National League in shutouts. The Giants also tweeted that the Giants lead the majors in ERA since June 1.
That’s only part of the season, but June 1 was a long time ago. Back then, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford were looking like MVP candidates. Giants fans were looking forward to Johnny Cueto returning in just a few short weeks. Dereck Rodríguez had made just one promising appearance, but nobody expected much of him.
Things have changed since then. The Brandons are suffering from ailing knees. Johnny Cueto is slated to return to 2020. Rodríguez is now arguably the best pitcher on the Giants staff.
Still, the Giants have been a good pitching team for most of the season. If only they weren’t one of the worst offensive teams in the majors. We might be wringing our hands and gnashing our teeth about dropping a game against a division rival in a series the Giants held them to three runs over three games. As is, at least we can relish the Dodgers being inconvenienced.
Even with the Giants not being able to score, this was the one game of the series the Giants really should have been able to win. The Giants were throwing out Dereck Rodríguez and the Rockies were throwing out Antonio Senzatela. You would expect Rodriguez’s ability to prevent runs would win out against Senzatela’s inability to prevent runs, but alas, that wasn’t the case.
Rodríguez ran into trouble in the second inning. After getting the first batter of the inning to fly out, Austin Slater couldn’t come up with a sharply hit ground ball. He then gave up a hit to Ian Desmond: Giant Slayer. Then Rodríguez got unlucky. On a 3-2 pitch that would have it made runners on first and second with two outs with the pitcher coming up, Rodríguez got squeezed.
Naturally, Antonio Senzatela knocked in two runs with his second hit of the year. Despite the error and the missed strike three, Rodríguez wasn’t completely without fault. He faced eight batters in the inning, and the only ones he didn’t fall behind to were Senzatela, Desmond, and Blackmon. Senzatela and Desmond both had hits, and Blackmon walked on five pitches. If he had thrown more strikes, he could have limited the damage.
Rodríguez eventually gave up three runs in the inning though one of them was earned. Coming into the game, Rodriguez had thrown quality starts in eight of his last nine outings. He had allowed three or fewer runs, earned or otherwise, in 15 straight starts. Through two innings, that stretch suddenly fell into jeopardy.
After cruising through the next three innings, Rodríguez had to escape another bases-loaded, Antonio Senzatela at the plate. With two outs, Rodríguez allowed consecutive singles to Carlos González and Desmond. The Giants opted to walk Ianetta to face Senzatela again. Senzatela was the Ivan Drago to Rodríguez’s Rocky. Senzatela humiliated and embarrassed our hero in their first meeting, and he murdered the Giants’ offense in front of a horrified crowd. But Rodríguez treated the third, fourth, and fifth innings as a training montage ultimately striking out Senzatela on an up-and-in fastball.
Rodríguez managed to hold onto the quality start for what that’s worth, and his streak has extended to 16 games.
It would be an inspiring story if the offense weren’t murdered and therefore unable to score runs. Chris Shaw ensured they wouldn’t be shut out with an RBI single in the sixth. The beginning to Shaw’s career has been inauspicious to say the least. He has struck out 52 percent of the time. No pitcher in the majors strikes out opposing hitters at that clip. Josh Hader leads the league with a 47.3 strikeout percentage. Edwin Diaz is behind him at 44.9. Shaw has made the competition look better than the most elite strikeout pitchers in the majors.
Coming into today, Shaw had a wRC+ of -20. Sometimes I forget that a wRC+ can be negative because that’s hard to do. Having a wRC+ of -20 is essentially being 120 percent worse than league average, and that doesn’t really make sense. You would think that being 100 percent worse would mean a batter made an out every time, but Shaw has been worse than that.
There’s no way Shaw is actually that bad. He’s just had a rough start. He’ll snap out of it. Eventually. Hopefully. The rocket he hit in the sixth is evidence of that. Here’s hoping that solid contact will embiggen him.
Brandon Crawford is Good, Volume CCLXI
Brandon Crawford is Good, Volume CCLXII
Honorable mention to Joe Panik.