When Stephen Vogt stepped into the batter’s box with two outs in the ninth inning with the Giants down by one, Duane Kuiper said that this was the guy he wanted at the plate. I was about to add a paragraph about how silly a statement that was, but before I could get my hands on the keyboard, Vogt did this:
Not only was this Stephen Vogt’s first game of 2019, this was his first major league game since September 30, 2017. Vogt had missed the entire 2018 season with shoulder problems, and at 33, there was no guarantee that he’d make it back to the big leagues. And yet, tonight he went 3-for-3 with a double and a game-tying home run. The double missed being a homer by about six inches, too.
Vogt was only playing because Bochy wanted to save Buster’s legs in a game that was already lost. There’s no telling what Posey would have done, but probably, he wouldn’t have combined for seven total bases.
With Longoria’s home run in the eleventh, the Giants completed a comeback when they were down eight runs after the third inning. They had only done this five other times in franchise history and that includes New York. The most recent time came on September 4, 1989 against the Reds. This was an all-time ludicrous game. This was the game that this game from 2010 was supposed to be.
All the excitement at the end of the game makes it easy to forget about the excitement before the game. I don’t know if this was the most anticipated game of the Giants season so far, but that people were looking forward to it at all is saying something. The 2019 Giants are not what you would call appointment viewing. They’ve had a difficult time competing with the Sharks and Warriors for viewership not to mention people’s attention getting pulled away by Game of Thrones and the Avengers.
But this was a game you probably wanted to watch rather than you felt obligated to watch. Tyler Beede was making his 2019 debut tonight after pitching to a 1.99 ERA in five starts at Triple-A Sacramento. Beede, the first-round pick from the 2011 draft, fell into an open manhole in 2018, but he changed his mechanics and dropped his two-seamer and he finally looked like the pitcher the Giants have been wanting to see for years.
Beede came out dealing. His fastball was sitting 96-97 and when he missed his spots, he didn’t miss by much. He impressed by striking out Joey Votto with a fastball across the letters. He got Reds top prospect Nick Senzel to hit a looper to center which Kevin Pillar tracked down.
He then gave up a ground ball single through the shift. No biggie. So what if he wasn’t going to throw a no-hitter in his 2019 debut? Yasiel Puig followed that up with a single off a pitch well outside the zone. Beede suddenly found himself in a modicum of trouble. He got Derek Dietrich to 0-2, and it looked like he would get out of the inning. Beede made his worst pitch of the inning, but he got Dietrich reaching.
Dietrich wound up hitting a lazy fly ball to right field with an expected batting average of .110.
It went over the fence.
Out of all the batted balls that Beede allowed that inning, that was the least likely to be a hit, and it wound up being the most damaging. Three runs were on the board, but Beede really hadn’t done anything wrong. He had gotten a little unlucky and Puig beat a pitch he wasn’t supposed to beat. It seemed like that would be it. Beede could bounce back.
Beede did not bounce back. His command got a little worse, and his luck didn’t improve. The Reds kept knocking balls under the glove and just inside the line. Along the way, Brandon Crawford missed a slow roller and Derek Dietrich hit another three-run homer.
Beede couldn’t recover from the bad breaks. He gave up eight runs in 2 2/3 innings after a perfect storm of Beede not making good two-strike pitches and everything falling in for the Reds.
Beede wasn’t perfect, but he wasn’t this bad. He deserved a lot better than what he got tonight. They had four extra base hits and only one of them was hit well. Of the four hard hit (95 mph+) balls Beede gave up, one was an out anywhere else and two were on the ground. There’s getting BABIP’d, and there’s whatever happened to Tyler Beede.
For as poor of a start they got off to, the Giants deserved to win this game. The Giants out-hit the Reds and they also out-hard-hit the Reds. The Giants out-hit the Reds 17 to 13 and the Giants had 17 hard-hit balls to the Reds’ 9.
It’s poetic justice that Evan Longoria’s game-winning homer also had an expected batting average of .110. The Reds needed every last dink and doink to fall in and for the Giants to have uncharacteristically poor defense, but the Giants got their runs the old fashioned way: by hitting the crap out of the ball.
Up and down the lineup, the Giants torched the ball. Steven Duggar went 3-for-5 and it might have been 4-for-5 if not for a great play from Nick Senzel. Joe Panik’s homer in the sixth wasn’t a cheapie. Brandon Crawford got himself above the Mendoza line with a 2-for-5 effort.
As good as the offense was, some credit is due to the bullpen as well. Despite some defensive miscues, the bullpen held the Reds to three runs over 8 1⁄3 innings. One of those runs came on a popup double that fell right on the foul line. Tony Watson came perilously close to wasting Vogt’s game-tying homer in the ninth, but he managed to skirt out of a bases loaded jam.
Before that fourth inning, my thoughts had darkened and my faith in Tyler Beede and the Giants’ future had been shaken. But now, I’m thinking that these knuckleheads aren’t so bad after all.