You can be excused if the San Francisco Giants offensive outburst on Tuesday night felt too familiar for your comfort.
I won’t blame you. I felt the same way.
On Monday, Kevin Pillar came up to bat with Giants leading the San Diego Padres 1-0, and the bases loaded. When he finished his at bat, the Giants led 5-0.
On Tuesday, Pillar came up to bat in the second inning with the Giants leading 2-0. and the bases loaded. When he finished his at bat, the Giants led 5-0.
If you think that’s worth celebrating with unabashed enthusiasm, then you had the great pleasure of missing Monday’s game.
But Tuesday was not Monday, and that is why, as Pat Burrell reminded us on the broadcast, they play 162 different versions of this whacky game.
Tuesday’s game was different. This time the Giants, anticipating another fateful fall from grace, tacked on an insurance run, and then another. This time they didn’t start giving the runs back as quickly as they could, like a kid who got caught stealing something dollar bills from their mother’s purse.
This time they just looked . . . well, functional. What a concept.
And yet Bruce Bochy’s foibles with the third time through the order persisted enough to make you squirm in your seat.
Derek Holland - who had by far his best outing of the season - took the mound for the seventh inning.
Now, I’m not going to rag on Bochy for this one. The Giants had a 7-0 lead, a bullpen that’s been worked a little lately, and another game scheduled for 15 hours after this one concluded. Letting Holland work through another inning was probably a good move in the long run.
But if it didn’t make your insides gurgle, as visions of Padresian dingers danced through your head, then you have the intestinal fortitude to be a Giants fan.
Congratulations! You have the intestinal fortitude to be a Giants fan!
I do not.
Farhan Zaidi has made it abundantly clear that Pillar and Tyler Austin were acquired because the team valued them and they were available, not because Michael Reed and Connor Joe - the DFA bin casualties of those acquisitions - were struggling.
He’s right, of course, and as a result it’s not very fair to pit Pillar and Austin against Reed and Joe, especially in the tiniest of sample sizes.
But it’s also impossible. Baseball may be an increasingly math-oriented game, but that doesn’t do anything to quell the voracious persistence of the narratives that we love so dearly.
Reed and Joe combined to go 1-23, with one walk and zero runs batted in. In this game alone, Pillar and Austin went 2-6 with one walk and five runs batted in.
Only time will tell if these were the right moves in the short term or in the long term. But, for now, the Giants certainly seem much more like a team that is actually deserving of playing at the MLB level than they did just a few days ago.
Speaking of Pillar, his heat-seeking double gave him seven RBI over the last two games, which prompted the broadcasters to bring up this unfortunate stat: It was the first time a Giant had a septet of ribeyes since Marlon Byrd in 2015.
Yeah, Marlon Byrd. Remember Marlon Byrd? I bet you totally remember Marlon Byrd.
I bet if I gave you a Sporcle quiz of players on the Giants 2015 roster, you would absolutely write down Marlon Byrd. I know I would.
Pillar followed up with a sacrifice fly later, to give him a clean eight runs batted in for the series. The broadcast didn’t mention when that had last happened, or if they did I was too busy not paying attention to pay attention. But I assume it was some legend like Johnny Monell.
The Giants are usually on the receiving end of grand statistics. You know the ones I’m talking about: “70 players had more home runs than the Giants entire roster last year,” and “Cody Bellinger drove in more runs in Saturday’s first inning than the Giants have in the last decade,” and so on and so forth.
So let’s make a few of our own. Coming into Tuesday’s games, only 14 players in the NL had eight RBI on the season. Pillar got there in two days. Last year it wasn’t until game #12 that a Giant secured his eighth RBI. Again, in case you missed it the first seven times, Pillar got there in two days.
I, for one, welcome this four RBI per day mentality, and think more players would be wise to employ it.
Brandon Belt got another start in left field, after not playing there all spring, and hey, look at this!
Good things happen when you hit the cut-off man. Just ask @bbelt9. pic.twitter.com/OsZWppEmPj— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 10, 2019
Now I know what you’re thinking. It’s truly amazing. Remarkable. I never would have thought it either. But yes, occasionally some MLB highlights are made available in shareable form!
But if you look past that amazing factoid, you’ll also see Belt making a pretty slick play in left field.
The pitching for the Giants was not very noticeable, and that’s a good thing. Like a waiter, pitchers are often at their best when they’re not noticed. Holland wasn’t dominant, but he was very good, and gave up just one run in seven innings. Mark Melancon pitched a clean ninth, and now he’s up to 5.2 scoreless innings, with just five baserunners allowed.
And most importantly, the Giants won 7-2, and now have a chance at their first series win of the season.