The start of the second inning during Wednesday’s game between the Giants and Padres had all the markings of a typical 2018 Giants inning. Singles by Nick Hundley and Brandon Crawford put two men on, with no outs. Aramís García struck out, and Chris Shaw lined out, and just like that the team had two outs, no runs in, a struggling hitter on deck, and the pitcher in the on-deck circle.
It had all the legs of one of those 0-3 RISP innings we’ve come to expect. The Giants are legendary for their 2-11 RISP games, and situations like this are how you get there.
But Gorkys Hernández worked the walk that the Padres were half-heartedly trying to give him, and then Chris Stratton, noted goofball with the bat, cracked an opposite field double to clear the bases.
It was the first extra base hit of Stratton’s career, and the three runs batted in eclipsed his total MLB mark to date.
I’d say his first double couldn’t have come at a better time, but I’m old enough to remember when the Giants played games for more than just pride and shenanigans.
Still, it was fun, and it helped him.
But if Stratton’s bat skills were nice, they nothing compared to his manners, and so, fearful that he had upset his San Diego hosts with the three-run double, he gave those three runs back in the bottom half of the inning, and added an additional two runs just to show his gratitude.
It was kind of remarkable. In the span of three outs, Stratton was directly responsible for eight runs.
Stratton only lasted three innings, but on the bright side, he allowed us to all play a game of “Remember That Giant?”
During the second inning catastrophe, Ty Blach got warming up. When Stratton finally left the game, he was replaced by Pierce Johnson.
Full disclosure: I completely forgot those two players existed. Earlier today, in the comments section, someone posted a Sporcle quiz of all the Giants who have played this decade. I stared at it blankly for a few seconds, mouse hovering over the “start” button, blinking like that guy in that gif (you know the one). I closed the tab.
I have absolutely no doubt that, had I tried that quiz, I would have forgotten Blach and Johnson. There’s no question.
With that out of the way, let’s get back to the game.
The Giants haven’t seen a lot of runs lately - not just on offense, but also on defense. Their anemic offense has scored in excess of five runs just five times since the start of August. And for as adept as they’ve been at losing, they’ve allowed more than five runs only ten times in that span.
So when the teams combined for eight runs in that whacky, basebally second inning, it seemed like we were headed for one of those doofusy, but oddly cathartic high-scoring affairs.
But for a while that wasn’t the case.
Stratton’s double was the only hit the Giants could muster with runners in scoring position - they finished a fittingly Giantsian 1-7 in such positions.
And the forgotten men, Johnson and Blach, shut down the Padres over four innings (with one of the outs coming via Steven Okert),
But while the Giants kept doing Giantsy things, the Padres eventually realized they didn’t need to conform to the stereotypes of the Padresian way. In the eighth inning, Blach allowed a hit, and then was replaced by Ray Black. A walk and a thunderous three-run dinger by Freddy Galvis later, and the Padres were in command of the game, winning 8-4.
It wasn’t all bad for the Giants’ offense.
Aramís García continued his impressive rookie campaign with a beautiful opposite field home run. It was his third of the year, and gave him an OPS of .966.
Chris Shaw, who is settling down after a rocky start to his MLB days, continued to show impressive balance, strength, and patience at the plate, with a walk and a hard-hit single.
Brandon Crawford had a three-hit day.
So there were bright spots. Including, arguably, the fact that they lost.
At this time of year, for a team in this position, bright spots are all you can hope for.