It didn’t always look like things were going to work out, but the Giants battled hard for nearly nine innings of a baseball game and for one more day, they have ensured that the Dodgers won’t end the day in first place of the National League West. Tomorrow, they’ll have to get back to the grind and not win, but not winning is what this team does best a little more than half the time. For now, petty, miserable people like myself can enjoy the fact that Dodger fans are just a little bit peeved.
The Giants could have won this game. At least theoretically. Dereck Rodríguez started, and at present, he is the only Giant who doesn’t fill me with any of the following feelings: dread, annoyance, apathy, a melancholic nostalgia.
Here are some examples:
Joe Panik: Dread
“Oh no, Joe Panik is broken.”
Brandon Belt: A Melancholic Nostalgia
“It sure was great when Brandon Belt was an MVP candidate at the beginning of the season.”
Nick Hundley: Apathy
“Nick Hundley is a back-up catcher and an impending free agent.”
Madison Bumgarner: Dread, A Melancholic Nostaligia, Annoyance
“Man, Bumgarner brings up some happy memories. Too bad he’s in line for a sharp decline because he crashed his dirt bike like a dingus.”
But with Rodríguez there’s none of that. The feelings he evokes are… good?
Can you imagine what this season would have been like if it weren’t for Dereck Rodríguez? Rodríguez likely only started a game because Madison Bumgarner had a run-in with the law, Johnny Cueto got addicted to a mystery tonic and his jaw swelled grotesquely, Jeff Samardzija pulled his everything carrying a washing machine out of a burning building, and Tyler Beede got sucked into swirling vortex from which there is no escape. If the Giants weren’t desperate for starting rotation depth, they never would have realized just how deep they are.
Without Rodríguez, I don’t think it’s crazy to think the Giants are in danger of another 90-loss season. The Giants are already outperforming their Pythagorean record by three games and they’re now four games under .500.
The 2018 Giants have given a lot of reason to be worried about the future, but Rodríguez gives reason to be excited for it. Without him, we’re doing a lot more freaking out about Andrew Suárez, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Chris Stratton, and Madison Bumgarner. Okay, there’s still a fair amount of freaking out, but Rodríguez tempers it a bit.
“Gorkys Hernández hit his 15th dinger of the year,” is not a sentence I thought anyone would have said prior to this year, and yet Gorkys Hernández hit his 15th dinger of the year. That ties him for the team lead.
Imagine two scenarios.
First, imagine you’re confronted by a time traveler someday before the season started. This time traveler tells you, “Gorkys Hernández will lead the Giants in home runs in 2018.” This would not strike you as good news. You would wonder what will happen to Brandons Belt and Crawford. What will happen to Buster Posey? What will happen to every other person on the roster? Your brain would not immediately go to, “Gorkys has become a decent power hitter.” Your brain would go to more likely scenarios like: the Giants’ team bus collided with Barry Zito’s tour bus and the entire team broke both of their legs. Also, the bassist for Barry’s band broke his thumbs and now Zeets is asking you to fill in. Get your keester to Nashville, my dude!
Now, imagine that time-traveler instead tells you, “Gorkys Hernández will hit at least 15 home runs in 2018.” Your first thought, if it isn’t “Who did the Giants trade him to?”, will probably be, “Oh hell yeah, this is our year.” If Gorkys is hitting 15+ dingers, that means the ball is flying. Evan Longoria and Belt are hitting 25-30, Andrew McCutchen is hitting 20+, Crawford and Buster Posey are maybe getting to 20, too.
You’d probably be pretty disappointed as the second scenario plays out. Sure, Gorkys is having a breakout, but everyone else has been a disappointment or hurt. It’s a cursed monkey’s paw situation. In the first scenario, there’s at least the relief that there wasn’t a horrific accident.
Also, Gorkys’ home run came immediately after Nick Hundley got thrown out trying to advance on a dirt ball. Thanks for costing Gork a ribby, Hundo!
That play almost looked like it was going to matter. In the bottom of that inning, Ryan McMahon hit a game-tying dinger. If Hundley hadn’t tried to take second with his September catcher’s legs, the Giants still would have had a one-run lead.
But then Reyes Moronta had the worst outing of his career. Never before had Moronta allowed more than two runs to score. Tonight, four runs were charged to his record. It’s a little unfair that Moronta has gotten other pitchers out of bases loaded situations but as soon as he needs someone’s help to get out of his own, Carlos Gonzalez hits a three-run triple.
Not that Moronta wasn’t at fault for creating a bases-loaded situation in the first place. The walk rate, like a Victorian woman coughing blood into a handkerchief, has foreshadowed his demise. Moronta walked two tonight and that came after he served up the dinger to McMahon and Charlie Blackmon cherry bombed a chopper over the mound.
At any rate, Moronta’s ERA rose over half a run, all the way up to 2.66. This outing doesn’t change my perception of Moronta as a pitcher. Carl Edwards Jr. has been very successful with a similar walk rate, so Moronta doesn’t have to be doomed. He’s just going to do things like walk Yu Darvish on four pitches in a postseason game.