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Giants complete first (only?) sweep of 2019

Drew Pomeranz had his best start in two years, and Pablo Sandoval homered in his second consecutive game.

San Francisco Giants v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Do two-game series count as sweeps? Well, consider the following: This is the first series sweep for the Giants since they swept a two-game series against the Padres at the very end of July last year. If you’re only counting three-game series, they haven’t swept a series since they swept the Diamondbacks at the end of June. Sweeps of any sort don’t come around often for these post-2016 All-Star break Giants. So, do two-game series count as sweeps? Hell yes they do.

Let’s enjoy the Giants looking like a competent team for once. It’s not often that the Giants outhomer a team in their own park. Despite the brilliance of the pitching, this is also just the second shutout the Giants have completed this season. So what if the Vlad Juniorless Blue Jays are one of three teams the Giants will face this year that might be worse than them? The Giants got to exhibit dominance

The Giants have done their fair share of going down in order the first time through the lineup, so it was a refreshing change to see a Giants pitcher do it to the opposing team. Not only was Drew Pomeranz perfect through the first three innings, he only faced four over the minimum through six innings.

He pounded the strike zone with his knuckle curve and his fastball was just wild enough to keep the Blue Jays from getting comfortable. It was easily Pomeranz’s best start in the last two seasons.

The Blue Jays don’t have the most formidable lineup. They’re batting Brandon Drury and his sub-.600 OPS second. (If only they had a third baseman in their organization that had destroyed every level of pitching he had ever faced). I’m not sure that Pomeranz would have had the same sort of success against say, the Dodgers, but he’s been very effective this year.

Pablo Sandoval hit a home run at 112.4 MPH. That’s the hardest a Giant has hit a ball this year. The only other ball a Giant has hit above 110 MPH is a ground ball from Kevin Pillar that went for a single. Sandoval didn’t break anything at the Rogers Centre, but he made it into the second deck.

After hitting the hardest hit ball by a Giant all year, Sandoval followed that up with the second-hardest hit ball in his next at bat. Unfortunately, Richard Ureña somehow wrangled it in. I’m not really even sure what he did. Everything happened so fast. One second, the Giants were about to score two, and before the sound waves of the crack of the bat even reached the microphone, Ureña had the ball in his glove.

I thought Clay Buchholz catching Evan Longoria’s comebacker displayed some quick reactions, but Ureña was just freakish fast. This is a reminder that all major leaguers are amazing, and they can do things with their bodies that would make muggles like us burst into flames.

Buster Posey didn’t homer, but he did double over the center fielder’s head. If we’re looking for more signs that Posey’s power is starting to come back, that’s almost as good. If it were hit to anywhere but straightaway center it would have been gone. The same could be said of his double against Sean Doolittle in Washington.

Posey went 237 at-bats without a homer and in the last week, he has one and two that just missed. Including his double and his would-be single today, he’s hit seven balls at 100 MPH or greater since that double in Washington. That’s a span of just 20 at bats. He’s hitting the ball hard consistently, and that’s great news. I don’t want to say he’s back, but like, he’s probably back.

Once again, the Giants failed to score in the first inning. In a way, it makes sense. The Giants have been worse against starting pitcher and starting pitchers tend to be at their best when facing an order a third time through. Not to mention that Bruce Bochy often constructs lineups with the least effective hitters in the one and two-spot like Steven Duggar and Gerardo Parra today. But let’s focus on how the Giants have done against starting pitching.

Coming into today’s game, opposing starters had pitched to a 2.74 ERA against the Giants. Starting pitchers have a 4.38 ERA on the whole, so the Giants have made starters look twice as good as the rest of the league.

Is it that the Giants can’t hit starting pitchers or that the starting pitchers they’ve faced have been unusually good? The 21 starting pitchers who have faced the Giants have a collective 3.28 ERA, so a whole run better than league average. Of those 21, only 3 have an ERA above 4.38, which is what all starting pitchers have done.

Those innings they’ve thrown against the Giants have contributed toward that, so if we remove those innings pitched against the feckless Giants offense, that collective ERA only rises to 3.48. Remember, these pitchers have a 2.74 ERA against the Giants, so the Giants are over half a run worse against these starters than the rest of the league. That’s quite bad! But! The starters they’ve faced are a run better than an average.

The Giants aren’t a good offensive team, and they’ve also faced good starting pitching. The answer to “Is it the Giants bats or the opposing pitching that’s keeping them off the board in the first?” is the answer to everything in 2019: Why not both? It’s a perfect storm that’s kept the Giants from ever scoring in the first inning.