So far this year, the Giants are comfortably a top-three team when it comes to defense and pitching. They rank third in ERA and first in defensive runs saved. Their runs allowed per game is the second-best in baseball. If this team could even hit a little bit, they might have a shot at contention. But they can’t hit. They rank 29th in wRC+ and their runs scored per game is second-worst in baseball.
That’s why nights like this are so welcome. The Giants scored 7 runs on 10 hits. They hit three home runs, and they gave their pitching staff some breathing room. When Sam Dyson gave up a home run in the seventh, it didn’t erase whatever tenuous lead the Giants had managed to accrue. The homer only decreased the Giants’ odds of winning only fell from 96.3 percent to 93.1. The pitching didn’t have to be perfect. They could pitch without stress. It’s about time someone did something nice for the pitchers.
In the first inning, the broadcast showed a graphic saying that Dereck Rodríguez led the league in walks per nine innings. In his first 17 1/3 innings, he had only walked one batter. Naturally, he walked two batters in the first inning. One of those batters was Juan Soto, who walks about once every five at bats, so Rodríguez could be forgiven.
Rodríguez only added one more walk over the next four innings. The Nationals weren’t happy with Tony Randazzo’s strike zone, but Baseball Savant only had a few pitches on the gloveside lower corner going his way, and he wasn’t getting the strike called at the letters.
Even if Randazzo was a little inconsistent, Rodríguez is probably fortunate that he didn’t walk more batters with as many pitches he threw well out of the zone.
Rodríguez made it through five innings and struck out six. The only run the Nationals managed against him came on a Stephen Strasburg double.
The pitching in general was excellent. Reyes Moronta had a shaky start to the year, but I think he’s fine now.
If you can buckle Juan Soto like that, you’re doing something right.
The homer that Sam Dyson gave up just the second homer the Giants bullpen has allowed this season. They had thrown 61 innings coming into tonight’s game. That’s home runs per nine of 0.15.
Tony Watson got Juan Soto to ground out softly in a suddenly scary moment. Mark Melancon continued 0.00 ERA by throwing 1 1⁄3 innings. Will Smith shut things down.
The pitching was good, as we’ve come to expect, but the offense got the job tonight. Even if they looked like the same old bozos for the first four innings.
The Giants got their first extra-base hit—and second hit of any kind—since Saturday when Kevin Pillar led off the third with a double. He didn’t come around to score of course. If there’s one thing the Giants consistently, it’s strand the leadoff double. The Giants have hit 11 leadoff doubles and only four have come around to score.
If the automatic runner-on-second in extra innings is ever implemented, the Giants will never win another extra inning game. It would effectively give the opposing team a one-run advantage. That’s another reason never to implement that rule. 18-inning marathons might not be the most interesting thing to watch, but at least the Giants tend to win those games.
It’s perhaps not a surprise the Giants wasted their leadoff double tonight. Stephen Strasburg was on and generally there’s nothing the Giants can do against effective starting pitcher. Which is why Evan Longoria and Steven Duggar both hitting opposite field homers in the fifth was so unexpected.
After a hot spring, Longoria homered in the second game of the season. It looked like he might at the very least get his slugging numbers back to where they once were even if the OBP didn’t come with it. Then Longoria fell into the Swamp of Sadness and since that homer in San Diego, he’s had just three extra-base hits. Now, he’s creeping up on Kevin Pillar and Brandon Belt for the team lead in homers.
Steven Duggar similarly started off hot-ish, but has also struggled lately. But he jumped on a first pitch fastball and booped it over the wall in left.
Duggar for the lead pic.twitter.com/RBpYg1E6LO— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 17, 2019
Brandon Belt also joined the dinger parade by reprising his 18-inning dinger from the 2014 NLDS.
Giants 3rd homer this game pic.twitter.com/LdlqHTHE0k— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 17, 2019
Is it a coincidence that the day Andrew Baggarly and Eno Sarris published their story about the possibiltity of Triples Alley getting turned into a Dingeritaville (subscription required) that the Giants hit two opposite field homers? Or that Belt hit a homer that might have hit off the top of the Willie Mays wall when it was revealed that a front office analyst said, “I’m pretty sure [Oracle Park] was designed specifically to screw him over?”
Yeah, it’s probably a coincidence, but Longoria hitting a homer to right-center is a good argument for a Dingeritaville.
This was the sixth game that Trevor Rosenthal has appeared in this year, and he’s only had a scoreless appearance once this year. In the one game where he didn’t allow a run, he still allowed both runners to reach. If you want an idea of how badly his season has gone, he gave up a run in the inning he threw tonight, and his ERA was cut nearly in half. Coming into the game, he had a 72.00 ERA, and after Wilmer Difo caught Yangervis Solarte’s flare, it fell to 40.50.
After throwing out Brian Dozier in the third and Victor Robles in the fifth, Posey has now thrown out more than half of would-be base thieves. He’s thrown out six and only allowed four to succeed. The pitchers deserve some credit for holding the runners and giving Buster a chance, but it’s worth pointing out that Posey’s been quicker on his pop time this year.
Statcast tracked his pop time at 1.91 seconds when he threw out Robles. Last year, he averaged, 2.01 seconds. A tenth of a second doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s the difference between being in the bottom third of catchers and being in the top three. Baseball Savant doesn’t have pop time averages for 2019 yet (and pop time isn’t the most important variable in throwing out runners) but it’s something to watch going forward. He may not have hit a home run since June 19th, but he’s still gunning down burglars with the best of them.
Q: Is Buster having it?— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) April 17, 2019
A: No, Buster ain't having it. #SFGiants pic.twitter.com/vMlR6aAKCo
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the
tag from Crawford high socks on Crawford. This is evidence that everyone should wear high socks at all times.