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Luis Castillo dominates the Giants

I’m starting to think that trading Castillo for Casey McGehee was a bad idea.

Cincinnati Reds v San Francisco Giants Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

If you decided to watch the Warrior’s game instead of the first half of this game, boy, did you make the right decision. The Giants once again handed a commanding lead to their opponents before the second inning was over, and at no time, did the Giants look like a competitive baseball team.

Usually when the opposing pitcher is so utterly dominant, you can detach yourself from Giants fandom and just become a baseball fan for the night. Even if his performance is coming at the expense of your favorite baseball boys, you can admire what he’s doing. But when that opposing pitcher is a guy the Giants traded for Casey McGehee, it’s really hard to do anything other than sulk and stew.

Luis Castillo’s stuff was so nasty that he didn’t even need to throw strikes. He opened his outing by walking the first two batters he faced, but that didn’t matter because the Giants had no hopes of making solid contact against him. They had just one hard-hit ball against Castillo, and that was a groundout. In retrospect, they might have fared better if they just didn’t swing at all.

All Castillo had to do was throw his changeup below the zone because the Giants couldn’t show that they could lay off. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an 11-strikeout performance with as few pitches thrown in the zone since Tim Lincecum.

Stephen Vogt had the only two hits against Castillo, and both had expected batting averages of .110 or lower. His first hit was a perfectly placed squib against the shift. The second was a fly ball that fell inside the left field foul line.

Vogt later added a double, and he almost hit another ninth-inning homer. After 17 plate appearances, Vogt’s slugging is .867 which is hilarious and amazing. He didn’t play at all last season, so the fact that he’s on a major league roster is incredible enough on its own. Vogt obviously isn’t going to end the year with an .867 slugging. Something like .600-.650 seems much more reasonable.

Tyler Austin followed up his two-homer day with a hat trick while Mac Williamson had an 0-for-4 night. The pair combined for five strikeouts and each looked overmatched against Castillo’s changeup. The Giants are going to give Williamson a much longer leash than they previously have and rightfully so. I also don’t think Williamson should be judged too harshly for failing to hit Luis Castillo.

Through April, the Giants might not have been hitting, but their pitching and defense was excellent. In May, the pitching hasn’t been there, but the offense has been. Tonight, nothing was working. For the first five innings, Dereck Rodríguez had to wiggle out of danger because of his shaky command and the clankmitts behind him. Never did the Giants ever make a serious attempt to score.

In the second inning, Tyler Austin clanked a ball so hard it went into orbit around him before careening over toward the foul line. Austin’s error in the second meant that all four of Dereck Rodríguez’s runs were unearned, so the good news is that D-Rod’s ERA is almost under 5.00. The bad news is that he didn’t fool anyone, and he turned in his third straight start of allowing four runs or more. Austin clanking a ball in left didn’t help, but neither did giving up a booming triple to Nick Senzel.

Rodríguez’s abbreviated outing brought his FIP to 5.94. He struck out just two batters while walking four further diminishing his strikeout-to-walk ratio. After tonight, Rodríguez has struck out just 15.4 percent of batters which would be third-worst among qualified starters if Rodríguez had thrown enough pitches. Rodríguez already had a low strikeout rate relative to the league, and now it’s getting worse.

Rodríguez might be able to weather a 3.73 walks per nine, but if he’s not striking batters out, every additional runner is that much more likely to come across the plate.

To make matters worse, Brandon Belt left the game after trying to beat out a ground ball. According to Alex Pavlovic, Belt has had some other leg problems.

Hopefully, this is just a precautionary thing. Brandon Belt doesn’t need to be joining Buster Posey on the injured list.

I’m all for weird defensive alignments. If you ask me, we haven’t seen enough four-man outfields and five-man infields. I’m even a fan of that stupid thing the Cubs do against bunts sometimes where Anthony Rizzo has to become the second baseman because he’s playing too far in. Don’t get me started on how unnecessarily dumb banning the shift would be.

I don’t know why, but I find this new trend of plopping the right fielder in Triples Alley loathsome. I first noticed the Yankees doing this to Brandon Belt, and as the Yankees of the west, the Dodgers did it, too. Now, the Giants are doing it. Here was their defensive alignment against Joey Votto in the first inning.

I don’t mind the shift or any of the other more conventional unconventional alignments because those take away hits on ground balls mostly. Maybe a four-man outfield takes away a gapper, but for the most part, these alignments are targeting hits that would be outs if they were hit five feet to the left or right.

But Triples Alley already turns homers into triples and doubles into outs. Do we really need to further diminish would-be homers by turning them into lazy fly balls?

Now, if you would, get off my lawn.