There would have been something so appropriate about the Giants setting a major league record for offensive futility. We’ve been watching the offense flail and fail since the 2016 All-Star Break, and the record for most consecutive scoreless first innings to open a season would have just been right, like if your terrible uncle wasn’t at Thanksgiving, and so you got way too drunk and invented new racial slurs just so people wouldn’t miss him too much.
It was not to be. Now, sure, the Giants did set a National League record for offensive futility, but it’s just not the same. It’s like replacing your terrible uncle by using the same old racial slurs. You’re terrible in either case, but now you can’t even make the excuse to yourself that you’re innovating. You’re just terrible, and as much as you wish you weren’t, you have to admit it.
Speaking of just terrible and as much as you wish you weren’t, you have to admit it, Madison Bumgarner!
For the second straight start, Bumgarner gave up multiple runs in the first inning. In his last start, in Pittsburgh, it was four runs, while tonight it was two. But against the Pirates, Bumgarner settled down and pitched five excellent innings after the first, while tonight he just kept getting hit. He gave up a career-high 11 hits and never really looked dominant, with the Yankees stringing together hit after hit after hit.
Bumgarner didn’t walk anyone, but only five strikeouts in 27 batters faced is not encouraging, to put it mildly. He avoided a big inning, but had many small innings, giving up five runs total in 5.2 innings. Remember, the Yankees have nine offensive players on the IL, so he wasn’t exactly pitching against their A-team. And the contact was hard. Here, let’s look at that:
Why, it’s enough to make a fella wonder about what kind of trade value Bumgarner will even have come July.
Bumgarner, however was not exactly helped by his outfield defense. There was Brandon Belt in left field, who turned two different singles into doubles by fielding like a first baseman who had no business playing left field and was only there because the Giants were so desperate for offense they traded for a guy whose only position is DH even though they’re a National League team. Very unexpected that Brandon Belt would have a game in the outfield like that.
Also a defensive letdown: Steven Duggar,
The McCovey Chronicles reader, who is very angry: WHAT HOW COULD STEVEN DUGGAR BE A LETDOWN STEVEN DUGGAR’S DAD WAS ANDRUW JONES AND HIS MOM WAS MERLIN THERE IS LITERALLY MAGIC INSIDE AND-
Me: There was a comma! A clause was coming! A CLAUSE WAS COMING!
Also a defensive letdown: Steven Duggar, because in the first inning he was forced to do battle with a ferocious bullpen mound, and like Mac Williamson before him, fell short. Now, Duggar didn’t have his season ruined for the temerity of trying to catch a foul ball, but in any other ballpark, Gleyber Torres’s foul pop-up would have been caught, and he wouldn’t have gotten the chance to double later in the at bat.
For the record, Duggar did have an excellent play later in the game where he caught a ball in right field and then easily threw out Luke Voit trying to advance to third. Because he’s fantastic when not contending with silly obstacles that shouldn’t be on the field.
Would Bumgarner have had a good start if Duggar had caught that ball? Probably not, but maybe he’d have had an okay one. Maybe he’d have gotten through the first inning without giving up a run, and the Giants could have tied the game with their third run instead of just pulling to within two. Or maybe Giants fans could have just not had a dang heart attack watching another promising young outfielder trip over another bullpen mound.
That’s not to say that the defense was entirely bad. Because, you see, the Giants have Brandon Crawford. Crawford, who was mysteriously born on the same day Ozzie Smith told a genie, “No one could ever create somebody better at shortstop than me,” has had a bad year with the bat, but he’s been just as great in the field as ever. Take, for example, this play, which is frankly ludicrous.
The Giants aren’t good this year and aren’t going to be good this year. At this point in the game, Mark Melancon had just given up a two-run homer to extend New York’s lead to an insurmountable four runs, and the game was effectively over. Here we all were, watching an at bat at the end of a game that was a foregone conclusion during a season that’s a foregone conclusion.
But hot damn, if that play didn’t make everything worth it. It was astounding that Crawford got to that ball. It was incredible that he could get a throw off to second. It was a miracle that the throw went right to Yangervis Solarte.
Or at least, that would be true of anyone else. For Crawford, it was a significantly above-average play, but nothing more. He is an absolute gift to watch on defense, and I’m not saying we’re taking him for granted, but whenever he’s not at shortstop anymore and he’s replaced by someone competent but unspectacular, we’re all gonna be like, “Oh man, I totally took Crawford for granted.”
So it wasn’t a great game. Madison Bumgarner was hittable (11 hits) and runnable (5 runs), the Giants offense scored just three runs, and the bullpen mounds cast aside the shackles of propriety and tried to claim another victim. But we still have Brandon Crawford making highlight reel-type plays because that’s just what he does. Maybe the rest of this Giants team doesn’t feel like a treat most of the time, but Crawford always should.