On this Memorial Day weekend, we gather here to commemorate the 2019 San Francisco Giants. They didn’t do much with the time they were given, but we’ll always have…Erik Kratz’s game-winning fielder’s choice?
It puts me in the mood for a song.
Oh my friends, my friends, don’t ask me
What their sacrifice was for
Empty bases at empty ballparks
Where the Giants will win no more
Going into the series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Giants had been outscored 49-17 during this homestand. That tally now stands at 55-19. We’re not just talking about a mediocre football match. This is the kind of ineptitude that makes me wonder if former 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula and his magnetic reading glasses are lurking somewhere in the clubhouse.
Of course, every cold streak is generally just as much about bad luck as it is incompetent play, and there was no better example of that than today’s game. The spectacular fact of baseball is that a soaring home run can be worth just as much as a two-out infield nibbler that brings in a run.
Sadly, Shaun Anderson, AKA the lesser Thor, was today’s sacrificial lamb.
What was his sacrifice for? Don’t ask me. But I knew the moment he gave up a hard lineout to Jarrod Dyson that he was doomed.
And lo, it was so. The next hitter, Ketel Marte, launched a 108.5 MPH rocket to Oakland that had Kruk comparing him to Barry Bonds. Eduardo Escobar followed up with a bloop single, then proceeded to advance to third base on a wild pitch/throwing error combo deal. Adam Jones took the gift and floated a sacrifice fly to bring in the run.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like the Giants have faced a lot more new faces on the mound this season than they have in previous years. This time around, it was Luke Weaver, a St. Louis Cardinals castoff who was part of the Paul Goldschmidt trade. Despite my characterization, Weaver has been quietly excellent for the Arizona Diamondbacks, putting up 1.4 bWAR before today.
However, the Giants managed to get to him early, putting up a run in the first inning (!) thanks to a pair of doubles by Joe Panik and Buster Posey. But with two runners on and one out, the Giants offense failed to do anything interesting as Evan Longoria flied out and Brandon Crawford struck out.
But even if the Giants had scored another run, it wouldn’t have mattered. In the top of the second, Nick Ahmed immediately put Anderson back in the stretch with a broken bat single, then proceeded to advance to third on a stolen base/wild pitch combo deal. After Carson Kelly walked, Ahmed basically stole home plate on Luke Weaver’s sacrifice bunt after Anderson failed to check the runner. Kelly then scored on a Dyson single up the middle.
What followed was emblematic of the Giants entire season.
Marte followed up his home run performance with a line drive up the middle. The speedy Dyson decided to roll the dice and advance to third, drawing a wide throw from centerfielder Steven Duggar. Not satisfied with a single, Marte rolled his own 20-sided die and landed on 18, granting him second and third base on a Longoria throwing error that scored Dyson, and almost taking home on a near-throwing error by Crawford.
The Giants only escaped the inning thanks to the excellent defense of Kevin Pillar, who ran down an Escobar liner. In fact, Pillar saved Anderson on multiple occasions, running down line drives like nobody’s business, including a sliding catch of an Adam Jones’ lineout that had an xBA of .460. Anderson was going to pitch multiple innings no matter how bad it got—an overtaxed bullpen made sure of that—but Pillar made it a lot less miserable.
In the bottom of the second, interim left fielder and grandson of Carl Yastrzemski, Mike Yastrzemski, got the first hit of his career, a bloop single to left. Hooray! Of course, he rounded first base too hard and immediately got thrown out. His family got a good laugh out of it, and he made up for the TOOTBLAN with a single in the fifth and a double and a run in the seventh. He also should’ve walked in the ninth, but at least his strikeout gave us this shot of his wife, Paige.
I’m sure he’ll learn not to take baserunning tips from Brandon Belt after this. Best of luck, kid, and make the most of your 50 ABs.
Speaking of debuts, Sam Coonrod made a relief appearance in the eighth and did a fine job, throwing a 1-2-3 inning with a diving assist from Brandon Belt. He also got his first strikeout!
Wait, what’s this tingling sensation I’m feeling? Is this…hope?
In the top of the 4th, a rare Belt error on a sure double-play ball allowed runners on second and third with two outs. Of course, Escobar capitalized on the misplay by hitting the lamest infield single possible to bring in another run. Seriously, the exit velocity on his hit was so low, Baseball Savant’s color code nearly made it impossible to read.
That reads 39 MPH, or the typical speed of LA traffic in a school zone.
Anderson was clearly ready to drop the hammer, but to his credit, he recovered his focus and got out of the inning. He then came out in the fifth and locked down his first 1-2-3 inning of the game, including his first and only strikeout of the game.
Look, our baby Thor isn’t likely going to be an ace or a co-ace or even an All Star, but he figures to play a role in the Giants’ long-term plans. Every pitcher is going to have an outing where every lazy flyball and weak grounder finds a spot. The key is to remain focused and not let the bad breaks rattle you. In that way, Anderson’s last two innings are encouraging.
Am I reaching for something positive to say? Maybe. But in the middle of what’s looking like will be a years-long rebuild, we’ve got to find the positive where we can. And I ask you this: Where would Frodo be without the unwavering optimism of Samwise Gamgee?
On that note, Panik looked fantastic at the plate, as did Posey. (Say what you will about Posey’s lack of power, but at least he still has his swing.) Reyes Moronta sported a new hairdo but showed off the same top-notch stuff we’ve come to expect. (Just ignore the fact that he nearly decapitated Christian Walker in the 7th inning.) Yastrzemski is batting over .400, and Sam Coonrod has a 0.00 ERA. Will Smith nearly had an immaculate inning. And, um, let’s see—oh, the Giants didn’t give up double-digit runs! That’s a big deal. And…Belt got a walk and a single, I guess? But he’s paid to hit, not to walk, so he only gets half credit.
It also wasn’t too warm today. Maybe a little on the nippy side, but I’m one of those weirdos that likes overcast weather, and hey, I’d take “too cold” over “too warm” any day.
Oh forget it, this team sucks.
If I was just watching the game as a fan, I probably would’ve checked out after the fourth inning. But having recap duties, I was obligated to slog through the whole thing.
Actually, I wasn’t supposed to do the recap today. That honor was Brady’s. But he was “busy” flying to “Las Vegas” to cover the “WNBA season opener,” so being the good guy that I am, I volunteered to take on the recap assignment, which just goes to show that if you have a chance to do something nice for someone, don’t, because you’ll be stuck watching the Giants for three hours and wasting a perfectly good Sunday afternoon.
Thanks, Brady. Thanks for nothing.