At one point, the Giants had a five-run lead. It was the largest lead they’ve had this entire season. The Giants’ problem this year hasn’t been their pitching. They’ve held opponents to an average of 3.6 runs per game and they’ve only allowed a team to score six or more runs once in their first 10 games. Even if they didn’t add on, the lead should have been secure. They should have won this game.
They did not win this game. In this darkest of timelines, the San Diego Padres are an unstoppable killing machine, and no lead is safe. Just when you think you are happy, your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you will know the debt is paid.
The worst thing about watching the Giants facing Eric Lauer is the interminable terror that their precious few baserunners will get picked off. Lauer picked off 10 runners last year which not only led the league, but it was more than the next two pitchers combined.
When the Giants loaded the bases in the fourth inning, I couldn’t help but think that someone was going to get picked off to end the “threat.” It would have been overkill. “What did Eric Lauer think was going to happen?” I would have written. “That the Giants would get a hit with the bases loaded, let alone hit a gr—”
KEVIN. PILLAR. GRAND. SLAM. pic.twitter.com/OrhejnHBuC— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 9, 2019
Oh. Oh my.
Here’s a reminder that while Kevin Pillar might not have an OBP over .300, he’s still good for 10-15 dingers a year. In Giants numbers, that’s like 30.
Pillar’s grand slam was the first a Giant has hit since April 6, 2017 when Brandon Belt hit one in a game the Giants also lost to the Padres. That’s two full seasons of baseball that the Giants failed to hit a grand slam. They were the only team not to hit a grand slam last year, but it’s not like they lacked for opportunities.
They had 136 plate appearances with the bases loaded in 2018 alone which is 36 more times than the Orioles had, and Baltimore hit four. Hitting a home run with the bases loaded shouldn’t be this rare an occurrence. Heck, Fernando Tatis’s father, Fernando Tatis, hit two grand slams in the same inning.
Because the Giants finally hit a grand slam, it meant that they had to forfeit all other scoring opportunities. Kevin Pillar got reached on an error and stole second with one out in the seventh, but the Giants couldn’t bring him in. Buster Posey arose from the grave to deliver unto the Giants a leadoff double, but that gift, too, was wasted. Joe Panik reached in the ninth inning to represent the tying run, but the only pinch hitter left on the Giants’ bench was Erik Kratz.
Madison Bumgarner’s final line doesn’t look very good, but that ignores the four hitless innings he threw before everything went into the toilet. Through the first four, Bumgarner only faced one over the minimum and struck out three.
In the third inning, Madison Bumgarner struck out Luis Urías on four pitches. It was the 1,607th strikeout of Bumgarner’s career which made him seventh all-time on the Giants strikeout list.
With that strikeout, Madison Bumgarner passes Gaylord Perry to become number 7 on the Giants all-time strikeout leaders list. pic.twitter.com/NBiIN93a2m— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) April 9, 2019
Bumgarner should catch the next two names on that list this season, Carl Hubbell and Matt Cain, and Tim Lincecum isn’t much farther ahead at 1,704. As long he pitches in a Giants uniform all season, becoming fourth on the list should be easy.
The fifth was when things began to unravel. Bumgarner stopped being to hit the gloveside part of the plate with his cutter and missed off the plate where it wasn’t tempting anyone. The pitch that Fernando Tatis Jr. knocked out was right down the middle as was the pitch that Wil Myers clobbered.
Speaking of Wil Myers, here’s an extremely unfun fact courtesy of the guy who used to have to write these recaps:
With that home run, Wil Myers moves into a tie for fifth-place on the HR list in San Francisco since 2017.— Grant Brisbee (@GrantBrisbee) April 9, 2019
1. Brandon Belt (17)
2. Brandon Crawford (13)
3. Nick Hundley (10)
4. Pablo Sandoval (8)
5-t. Buster Posey (7)
5-t. Gorkys Hernandez (7)
5-t. Wil Myers (7)
Bumgarner came out to pitch the seventh which seemed questionable considering how tough the previous two innings were for him. Not only that, but he was facing the order a third time through. He should have come out after he hit Tatis on a 3-2 pitch. Bochy stuck with him, and Bumgarner rewarded his confidence with a double off the Willie Mays wall.
Reyes Moronta was tasked with getting out of a tying run on second, nobody out situation, and he got three quick outs without any problems whatsoever, no sir, not a one, except for maybe that slider he hung to Franmil Reyes.
In Tyler Austin’s first at bat with the Yankees, he hit a home run. In his first game with the Twins, he hit a home run. In his first game with the Giants, he did not hit a home run. He did, however, get a hit which ties him with Connor Joe on the all-time Giants hit list.
Austin is listed a first baseman/outfielder, but the Twins disagree on that classification. They didn’t put Austin in the outfield at all during the spring, so today he started at first which meant that Brandon Belt moved to left. While it’s easy to view this Belt being relegated to a less important defensive position, this is also a testament to Belt’s talent. He doesn’t need to have played the position recently to feel comfortable. It’s like riding a bike for him.
The Giants didn’t win the baseball game, but that’s the least of the concerns. Gerardo Parra left the game after getting hit in the face with a fastball from Brad Wieck. Parra left the game under his own power but not without clutching a towel to his face. Here’s hoping that Parra is okay.
Gerardo Parra is okay. That’s what I get for not checking Twitter one last time before I publish.
Gerardo Parra has a cut on his lip but is otherwise fine. He’ll be available tomorrow.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) April 9, 2019