Well, at least the Giants didn’t waste a nice pitching performance today.
For Labor Day, the Giants made an appropriate tribute and played a game that was a Labor to watch. However, it was the perfect game for you for a BBQ where you aren’t really watching. Early on, you look away thankful that you weren’t paying attention. Then you peek in on the score here and there. Maybe you get lucky and see a touch of Giants goodness. And when your phone dings to tell you the final (and the expected Giants loss), you might be curious enough to look at the box score and watch a highlight or two.
So I hope you enjoyed it. The first 7 innings sure sucked, though.
The Giants offense played a pretty appropriate Coors Field comeback sort of game. Gorkys Hernandez had a solo home run. Evan Longoria had a sacrifice fly, and later a Todd Hundley ground rule double turned into a Brandon Crawford RBI. And Longoria had a 2-run triple, though he didn’t score himself.
Each of those plays happened in different innings, with the Giants down bigtime. But it almost never felt like the Giants were really going to get back into it until they did.
In the 8th inning, with two out, Gorkys was hit with a pitch, and suddenly you were scared another of the Giants’ top home run hitters would be out with a broken hand. But then the Giants pinch-hit Alen Hanson, and he hits a game-tying home run. And then Chris Shaw hits a pinch-hit home run, and the Giants have the lead. The Rockies were getting Coorsed.
It wouldn’t last, as the Rockies came right back against Tony Watson to score two runs, but for a moment, the Giants offense was doing the right thing when they were in a big hole at Coors Field. So, for today, no ragging on the offense.
Still, it was Coors Field, so it’s kind of expected, right?
Chris Shaw hit a monster of a debut home run. Finally, you see the power that makes him a top prospect, despite having seen the strikeouts and swing-and-miss that creates the “But” you’ll read in every prospect report on him. And he gave the Giants an all-too-brief lead. And he hit it in the second deck in nearly center field! I hope he gets that ball back…maybe it would’ve been better to fall into the bullpen
When he got back to the dugout, he got no silent treatment. When you’re a rookie who hits his first home run, pinch-hitting in a tie game to give your team the lead, you don’t get silent treatmented. It’s about as realistic as ever seeing Dinger do something adorable and likable. Don’t even try to convince me it would happen.
The last time a Giants player’s first hit was a pinch hit home run? Damon Minor in 2000. That’s not auspicious at all for a power-hitting, strikeout-making prospect, not in the least.
The last time the Giants hit back-to-back pinch hit home runs: August 23, 2001 at Montreal, with Barry Bonds and Shawon Dunston.
LOL Expos. (I miss getting to say that)
This game was played in Coors Field, for sure, but you still don’t expect this from Bumgarner. His ERA jumped from 2.68 to 3.07 in this one start. Yikes.
There was a moment that you might have thought “Well, Bumgarner was just slow getting settled in at Coors”. After all, he gave up hits to all of the first four batters, two of which were 2-run home runs, but then he really started to look good. He gave up just two hits through the next effective four innings (including the three outs yet to go in the first), and he looked like Bumgarner.
The moment I was talking about came two batters into the fifth inning. Sure, Bum had hit Blackmon with a pitch, but he’d come back to get a nice strikeout of DJ LeMahieu, who had hit one of those first inning home runs. And then things got weird. Nolan Arenado hit a ground ball that slipped past Kelby, who may or may not have been screened on the play by the umpire. Then Trevor Story hit his second home run of the game.
There’s already been some discussion of Bumgarner’s declining stuff, and there will be more of it all through the offseason. I wonder how much this game will get pointed at in those discussions. On one hand, it’s Coors Field, so an outlier is basically an inlier here. On the other hand, one reason Coors Field is Coors is that breaking pitches break less here, and if that means a pitcher needs to relying on a mediocre fastball, well… there will be crooked numbers on that scoreboard.
Just as Brandon Crawford came back into the lineup with knee soreness, Brandon Belt was held out of it with the same issue (Belt was pulled from Sunday’s game in the 7th for this reason). He had a hyperextended right knee earlier in the season, and pretty much has been ineffectual since coming off the DL (10-for-61, .164 average).
That led to Chase d’Arnaud playing first to start, since primary backup first baseman Buster Posey is on the shelf for the season, and secondary backup first baseman Austin Slater’s range was needed in the outfield. The Giants have played down other callups happening after Monday’s minor league finales, but I’d be surprised if Ryder Jones doesn’t get called up to help out at the two corners.
Gorkys is NOT leading the team in home runs. That stat belongs to Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen (RIP) with 15. Gorkys is now tied for third at 14, with Brandon Belt.
But Gorkys has turned himself into quite a power hitter, and how? Why? With Duggar’s health a big question to at least start 2018, do the Giants trust Gorkys and his .246/.295/.403 batting line to handle center field or get someone in the offseason?
Jeremy Affeldt’s voice was one of the best/worst things about today’s game. When I turned on the game, I thought he was hungover. I know allergies were a better explanation, but it’s more fun to think of Affeldt having to fly in after having a raging barbecue to help call a Giants game. Also, to think of everyone at home (and maybe a few co-workers) thinking that he’d started drinking (and stopped) a bit too early to handle the Giants in September.
So, we had Affeldt talking like he was trying to convince his mom to not let him go to school for nine innings. On one hand, listening to that voice did not make getting through this game any easier. On the other, if Affeldt were to have to go on the DL for broadcasting, that would be so appropriately awesome.
Also, spending this much time talking about the broadcasters should tell you more about the game than spending this much time talking more about the game.
Tomlinson keeps losing stuff off his gear while running. It’s not as cool as Jose Ramirez always losing his helmet. Get better gear, Kelby.
And let’s pause for a second on Kelby. Today, we saw two players who are in direct competition with new acquisition Abiatal Avelino. Kelby had some good defense and got a nice steal, but also had the key error that led to the 3-run home run that put the Rockies up big. (Umpire-related excuses can be debated.) Meanwhile, Alen Hanson came in and tied the game with a 2-run home run on a pinch hit. There’s the thing that Kelby does not do.
Kelby is also out of options next year. His big advantage over Hanson is his defense, but errors down the stretch and Avelino’s defensive ability probably means you’re seeing the last of Goggles on the Giants. He is a good Giant, a #ForeverGiant… but changes will come.
As of the end of this game (not the end of the Monday), the Giants are in position for the 14th overall draft pick. They are only a couple of losses away from the 12th spot, but also just a couple of games ahead of the Nationals, who are 15th. But as we go into September and think about rebuilds, it’s still highly unlikely the Giants will break into the Top 10 for next year’s MLB Draft. Maybe #10. #10 would be nice.
Tim Lincecum was the 10th overall draft pick. So was Madison Bumgarner.
One can dream.