In the first inning, Kevin Pillar hit a ball at 99.7 mph and 31 degrees. According to Baseball Savant’s field visualizer, balls hit at that speed and angle are home runs around a third of the time. “Argh! AT&T’d again!” Giants Twitter cried in unison. “How can anyone ever be expected to homer in such a cavernous expanse?”
Sometime later, Gary Sánchez hit a ball into Galarraga country and made Oracle Park look very, very small. Oh, that home run also came with the bases loaded making it the second grand slam the Giants have given up this week. They’ve allowed as many grand slams as they’ve hit in the past two years and the week isn’t over yet.
Unlike the Rowdy Tellez grand slam, this one didn’t come when the Giants had five-run lead, quite the opposite. This one put them in a hole from which there was no escape. If the Giants were to beat the Yankees after Sánchez desecrated the corpse of that Derek Holland pitch, they’d have to score seven runs, something they’ve only done three times this year.
It was very kind of Homeplate umpire Jim Reynolds to let Derek Holland get out of the fifth inning. The pitch to strike out Gleyber Torres was high and inside but Reynolds called it anyway. He couldn’t do anything about Gio Urshela singling. Then, Holland definitely hit Brett Gardner with a pitch, but Reynolds, who knew the game was over, called it a strike out on a foul tip. What a guy.
The grand slam created a far-enough gap that the obligatory ninth-inning comeback could come up short. Yangervis Solarte hit his first home run as a Giant and Erik Kratz followed that up with his first as a Giant. Apparently, Solarte has been talking to Brandon Belt because his bat drop game is on point.
Brandon Belt, who was robbed of a home run by Oracle’s spacious field last night, was robbed of two hits by the Yankees’ defensive positioning. They’ve employed a shift against Belt but normally, the shift sees the second baseman equidistant between first and second. The Yankees, however, had DJ LeMahieu playing more toward second which allowed him to rassle down a sharp ground ball. I really didn’t miss LeMahieu robbing hits from the Giants.
Later, Belt hit a 103-mph liner into the gap which should have split the defense, but the Yankees had Cameron Maybin playing in Triples Alley.
Right fielders shade toward Triples Alley, but usually not this far. That’s where the Rays put their fourth outfielder when they set their defense against Belt. I’m sure that if this game were being played anywhere else, Maybin wouldn’t have been so far over. This is just another way that Oracle Park screws Brandon Belt.
I still can’t believe the Nationals gave the Giants Trevor Gott. It’s not just that he’s had great results so far, his stuff has been very convincing. Look at this 0-1 pitch to Cameron Maybin:
That’s 96 with armside run! Who looks at that, then looks at the smoldering ruin of the Nationals bullpen, and then decides they don’t need that? Granted, Gott wasn’t very good last year, but this doesn’t speak well of how the Nationals view pitching talent.
Okay, I see why the Giants didn’t want Tyler Austin in left field. On Torres’s double in the eighth, he badly misplayed a carom and lackadaisically went after it which would have allowed Torres to advance to third if not for a nice swipe tag from Evan Longoria.
We saw last night that Brandon Belt isn’t the best option in left, but maybe he’s not the worst. Belt, who was playing right field for the first time since 2017, played a carom rather well that inning.
It all worked out in the end, and maybe that was intentional? Maybe Austin was just lulling Torres into a false sense of security. Maybe he was daring him to run. He certainly wasn’t trying to get to the ball as quickly as possible.
Mark Twain once wrote that only two things are certain in life: death and Derek Holland screwing up a bunt. Using Baseball Reference’s Play Index, I was able to find 10 prior instances of Derek Holland attempting a bunt in his Giants career before today. He’s been successful just four times before. Including today’s failed attempt, Holland has a success rate of 36.3 percent on something that should happen at least more than half the time.
I don’t want to harp on him too much. Holland’s bunt today was fine. It’s not his fault that Luke Voit made a good play to get the lead runner. Still, it was a bit frustrating that the next batter, Kevin Pillar, would have knocked in the run from second with his line drive single.
I can also forgive Holland because bunting, like most “easy” sports skills, is a lot harder than it looks. After Cody Parkey missed a field goal for the Chicago Bears, Goose Island held a competition for muggles to try to make the same kick. 100 people tried and failed, most in spectacular fashion.
First kicker, who got here 5 hours before the event, starts with this.. it’s going to be a long day pic.twitter.com/7tjLuSuH0u— Madeline Kenney (@madkenney) January 12, 2019
Katie Nolan challenged a dude who thought he could run a 4.4 40-yard dash and he ended with 5.5. I would love to see random people try to bunt off major league pitching if I didn’t think there was a non-zero chance of someone dying. It’d be great to watch an overconfident Chad shriek with terror as a 97-mph fastball with movement whizzes past their body. I don’t think I’ll ever get that chance to witness this, but I think bunting is the thing that every fan thinks they can do when, no, no they can’t.