Evan Longoria’s bases clearing double is easily the best moment of his Giants’ career. This surpasses him breaking up Germán Márquez’s no-hitter earlier in the month. I had chalked this up as another dull loss where the Giants were outclassed and where the only silver lining being the Giants kept Cody Bellinger from defaming Oracle Park with a monstrous dinger.
It’s fitting that this came on a night where Longoria had been benched to get Pablo Sandoval a start. After Buster Posey struck out with the bases loaded, Longoria stepped up to the plate and the rally was already dead.
But, Longoria turned on an inside fastball better than we’ve seen in years.
LONGOOOOORIA— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) April 30, 2019
The #SFGiants take the lead, 3-2. pic.twitter.com/kIDg7UjCfL
Not only was that the biggest hit of Longoria’s career, that was probably the biggest hit of any Giant this year. It might be the biggest since Andrew McCutchen’s walk-off against these same Dodgers.
The Giants are always good for a nonsense comeback against the Dodgers in the early part of the year. I think this was this year’s. Personally, I would have gone for a hit later in the game, maybe in the eighth or even a walk-off, but a three-run double to take the lead is mighty fine, too.
When Jeff Samardzija came out of the game, he had only thrown 79 pitches. Bruce Bochy was happy because he got his pitcher to go five innings, and Farhan Zaidi was happy because the starter got through the order twice and was taken out. Everybody wins.
Samardzija pitched five shutout innings and gave up just two hits. One of those hits came from Cody Bellinger who took his lower body completely out of his swing but still booped the ball into center. He only had one strikeout, and he gave up a few loud outs. He wasn’t perfect, but he was effective. He got the 18 outs he was supposed to get, and he didn’t allow the Dodgers to go on a dinger spree.
Overall, Samardzija has thrown more sinkers than four seamers this year, but that wasn’t the case tonight. It’s possible he didn’t want to throw anything with sinking action that would feed into the golf swings of Bellinger, Joc Pederson, Max Muncy et al. He might have just had a better feel of the four-seam grip tonight. Whatever it was, it was a good pitch for him, and I need no further proof than this swing from Cody Bellinger.
Pick an offensive category and Bellinger is probably leading in it. Anyone that makes Bellinger look like that deserves to have his teammates rush out onto the field and lift him onto their shoulders where he’ll throw his fist into the air and freeze frame, credits roll.
Of course, when Bochy finally pulls a starter after two times through the order, Tony Watson came in and immediately gave up two runs. I still think it was a good decision to pull Samardzija. Tyler Austin, who pinch-hit for Samardzija, got a hit and would have scored if Yangervis Solarte’s line drive wasn’t caught.
If you could Doctor Strange that inning over and over again, tens of thousands of times with Samardzija pitching half and Watson pitching the other half, I’m sure Watson would have the lower ERA. I’ll always take a fresh reliever with platoon advantage over a pitcher with one strikeout going through the order a third time.
It wasn’t even that Watson was bad. The pitch that Bellinger hit was well below the strike zone and Muncy’s double just snuck down the line. Both of their hits had a lower expected batting average than Solarte’s line drive.
The Dodgers nearly added on with the help of more doinking. David Freese blooped a ball over first base and it would have set up runners at the corners if the field wasn’t an absolute sloppy mess tonight.
Just your typical 9-1 putout #SFGiants pic.twitter.com/uYHlit47fw— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) April 30, 2019
“Ugh, I can’t believe the Giants made me look stupid. The Giants!”
Did it ultimately matter that Brandon Crawford got thrown out trying to go first-to-third? No. No, it did not. But it’s emblematic of two things. The Giants have been really bad on the basepaths, and Brandon Crawford is slow.
They’ve taken the extra base a league average amount, but they’ve played fast and loose with what precious few baserunners they’ve had. Including that TOOTBLAN, the Giants have been thrown out on the bases like a nincompoop thirteen times.
Crawford is the slowest shortstop in all of baseball by Statcast’s sprint speed measurements. That shouldn’t be surprising. He’s the oldest qualified shortstop by two years. But Crawford has become slow for a major leaguer regardless of position. Over half of catchers have a faster average sprint speed than Crawford. He’s only half a foot per second faster than Buster Posey.
Crawford might be one of the slowest players in baseball, but at least he’s hitting.
Every time I pick up a new version of MLB The Show, I invariably wind up making a player in Road to the Show that only tries to bunt for a hit. Every at-bat, no matter the situation, he bunts for a hit. Nobody on, nobody out? Drag bunt. Bases loaded, two outs? Push bunt.
In practice, this keeps my interest for about half an hour. But I still love the idea of it. So, you can imagine how pleased I was when Joe Panik led off the game with a bunt against the shift, and then the next batter, Yangervis Solarte also showed bunt. Maybe, I thought, that the Giants knew they couldn’t compete with the never-ending dinger barrage from the Dodgers, but they could try to bunt them to death.
The Giants did not try to bunt the Dodgers to death, of course, but they should one of these days.
After an embarrassing series against the Dodgers of the American League, the Giants bounced back and beat the actual Dodgers with one of the more exciting hits in the last three years. There won’t be many games this season as fun as this. Savor it. Savor it.