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Giants waste a great start by Dereck Rodríguez

Dereck Rodríguez had his best start of the year, but since he didn’t pitch a shutout, the Giants lost.

MLB: San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Out of the Giants’ nine losses this year, they’ve only loss by three runs three times. That’s not three runs or more because they haven’t lost a game by more than three runs yet. If you enjoy pitching and defense, that might make you feel better about watching the next 149 games. They may not score a lot of runs, but the pitching will keep them in the game.

In each loss, it’s easy to see how things could have gone differently. If Kratz slides into home or Manuel Margot’s grounder doesn’t get through or Manny Machado’s homer falls a few inches shorter, maybe the Giants win this game.

It’d be easier to swallow if this weren’t the ninth time in 13 games that a game has basically been decided on a handful of bad bounces and brain farts. As long as the team keeps pitching like this, they’ll win more games. I’m not trying to say that they’ll be a contender or even above .500, but this team isn’t this bad.

They’ll win a series eventually. It might not come in this next series because they’re playing the Rockies and for the last few years, the Giants have been completely incapable of beating the Rockies, even at home. It might not come in the next series either because they’re playing the Nationals who are still quite good without Bryce Harper. Maybe they can beat the Pirates?

The advanced metrics weren’t fans of Dereck Rodríguez’s rookie year. FIP, xFIP, and SIERA were all around a run higher than his ERA. Baseball Prospectus’s DRA was nearly twice as high. When Rodríguez struggled and labored through his first two starts in which he allowed six runs in 10 1/3 innings, it was hard not to think that the regression gremlin had come for the Flow.

But Rodríguez is still perfectly capable of coming out and getting Cained. He’s not going to lead the league in strikeouts, but he can do enough things to the ball to make it hard to square up the ball against him. Five strikeouts and two walks in seven innings isn’t anything special, but the hardest contact he allowed was arguably a single to Nick Margevicius. Even Manny Machado’s homer just barely snuck out.

I don’t know if it’s possible for a righty to hit a cheap opposite field homer at Oracle Park, but Machado might have done it. Statcast tracked it at 98.6 MPH and 39 degrees and gave it an expected batting average of just .110. For reference, the weak grounder that Hunter Renfroe hit immediately after had a higher chance of being a hit at a .180 xBA.

The other two hits that Rodríguez allowed was an ill-timed ground ball up the middle and ball that Brandon Crawford could have had a play on if he didn’t roll his ankle setting his feet.

The error in the third inning has been the only knock against Evan Longoria’s defense this season. The error didn’t wind up costing the Giants a run—the only way Urías would have been kept from advancing to second was if Longoria caught it—but the plays he’s made have offset at least a couple theoretical unearned runs.

The Giants continued their vow to never score in the first inning. They didn’t even have a baserunner in the first three innings. It took until Kevin Pillar’s home run in the fourth for the Giants to get a hit. It wasn’t quite as majestic as his grand slam on Monday night, but all dingers are beautiful in their own ways.

Pillar only had three hits, but he sure made them count. A grand slam, a solo shot, and a bases-clearing double is a great way to distribute his hits.

That’s nine RBI in three days. He could have had 10 if Erik Kratz slid into home. RBI aren’t a great way to evaluate offensive ability, but they’re a great way to measure excitement. Pillar alone was responsible for knocking in nine runs this series. That’s four more than the Giants scored against the Padres in the four-game series to begin the year. That homer gave him the team lead in RBI which just shows how anemic the offense was before his arrival.

This doesn’t align with company policy of course. Pillar clearly hasn’t read the employee handbook that states hits are okay as long as they don’t produce runs. The occasional solo homer is fine, but the doubles are supposed to come to lead off an inning where they can be stranded with a grounder, a line drive right at somebody, and a fly ball to left. (See: the eighth inning)

Wil Myers kills the Giants at the plate, we all know this. On the field though? He allowed for Madison Bumgarner’s walk off hit. He dropped a fly ball that hit him right in the glove on Monday. Today, he pulled an “I got it, you take it,” on Kratz’s “double” in the fifth, and he almost dropped a fly ball in the eighth.

Kratz hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to display his baserunning abilities, but the early returns aren’t great. He had no chance of scoring on Rodríguez’s single. A fast runner might not have had much of a chance either, but they would have at least put themselves into position in case Hunter Renfroe bobbled it. The bigger goof was not sliding into home on Pillar’s grounder. I don’t know if he didn’t know that a throw was coming home or if Steven Duggar wasn’t yelling to get down, but it was frustrating to watch.

Whatever. It’s not like the Giants needed that run anyway.