There are some days when nothing in this world makes sense and some baseball games that can defy the conventions of a sport. And then there are moments like the last three and a half hours, a segment of time that combined the two ideas and yet still amounted to something far greater and something far more confounding.
The Giants reported to the Great American Ballpark for the fourth game of their four-game series and soon after they arrived, the stadium was invaded by thousands of bees. Literally, a swarm of bees. Bees everywhere, delaying the start of the game by twenty minutes.
How did the bees get there? Why didn’t anybody notice them before today? Why was there footage later in the game of the bees being captured in cardboard boxes? What do the bees want? We will never have the answers to these questions, only that the bees were there.
I miss the bees. I was ready to call this one a wacky game of beesball. The bees were the simplest part of the game. A honeycomb forming in a baseball stadium doesn’t strain credulity. What happens to the Giants when they play in Cinncinati most certainly does.
The Giants lost 12-4 on a combination of the Reds absolutely humiliating them and the Giants absolutely humiliating themselves. It was the most they’ve looked like a rebuilding team this season. That’s usually the case when they play the Reds, only this time around, they made “bad team history” with stuff like
- The Reds tied a franchise record for most home runs in a series (14)
- The Reds were hit by a pitch four times in a game for the first time since 1893
- Drew Pomeranz gave up 7 earned runs in 1.2 innings pitched:
I can find 447 instances of a #SFGiants starter giving up at least 7 earned runs in a game between 1908 and this weekend.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) May 6, 2019
According to @baseball_ref, it has not happened three times in the same series until Beede, Rodríguez and Pomeranz all gave up at least seven in Cincinnati.
- Five of Pomeranz’s runs came in another huge first inning by the Reds:
The Reds lead 5-0 after one and the #SFGiants have now been outscored 33-2 in the first inning of games this year.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) May 6, 2019
That's a -31 run differential. This is their 35th game.
- The Giants starting pitchers were genuinely, historically, unbearably awful:
Giants starters have given up 27 runs in a series for the first time since 2006 (vs. Brewers) and fifth time in #sfgiants West Coast history. Per STATS, LLC.— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) May 6, 2019
Yes, the ballpark feels like a cheat and it seems unfair that right handed batters can just flip a ball over the wall in right field, but but it wasn’t all weird. The Giants were extra bad today.
- Rookie Nick Senzel looks like one of the greatest players of all time after this weekend (3 home runs in his first 4 games, a feat last accomplished by Trevor Story in 2016) because he got to face the Giants’ starting pitching and what looks like a combination of terrible scouting and worse pitch location. Here are his two home runs from the first two innings:
Pomeranz threw belt high fastballs out over the plate, towards that outer edge, but not enough up near the letters or below the belt, allowing full extension. Those were just bad pitches.
So were all the pitches where Pat Venditte hit three batters, leading to this next bad team historical note:
Giants tied a major-league record today by hitting four batters in an inning.— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) May 6, 2019
The record was set in 1893.
Pet Venditte hit guys with both arms.
Our “amphibious” friend Pat Venditte took it on the chin for the second consecutive game and from both sides of the pitching rubber. That’s six earned runs allowed in just 3.1 innings of work, and given that the Giants are heading into Colorado with a chewed up bullpen and they can’t recall Tyler Beede or Ty Blach (unless the Giants can figure out a way to phantom IL someone), then it’s very possible this was Venditte’s last game as a Giant.
It was not a good series for Farhan Zaidi’s first signings. Venditte was the first player Zaidi signed to a major league deal (the league minimum, but it still counts!) and Mike Gerber was the first waiver claim. I made this terrible collage of Mike Gerber’s weekend:
That’s one hit in 16 plate appearances with 9 strikeouts to 1 walk. Really terrible stuff. The really terrible stuff you’d see on a rebuilding team, the which I think we’re all pretty comfortable with the Giants being at this point. It’ll be tough to watch, but this sort of rough performance right out of the gate for newer players will be part and parcel of the Giants viewing experience over the next few years.
When the older players do it, the despair seems to creep in even faaster. Brandon Crawford flubbed a grounder in the bottom of the sixth inning which could’ve led to a second out or an inning ending double play. Instead, the inning was extendd and Pat Venditte gave up a hit to Jose Iglesias that had, according to Statcast, an expected batting average of just .240.
Kevin Pillar let a middle in fastball go on the first pitch of his first at bat of the game in the top of the second inning, and then swung wildly at a fastball up and away and couldn’t check his swing on the same pitch for a called third strike. He makes it hard to presume he has an idea of what he wants to do at the plate or has read the pitcher’s scouting report, especially when he has swings like this:
Yet all this truly terrible stuff was like the eye of a weird storm today. The Giants are never as bad as when they play in Cincinnati and the Reds are never as good as when they play the Giants (except for 2012, obviously, yes I know). They had still managed to win two games of this series and despite being down 5-0 after the first inning, managed to close the gap to 7-4 in the middle innings. They looked both like a team that didn’t belong in professional sports and a little bit like the Giants. It wasn’t meant to be, though, because of whatever weirdness was going on today and whatever energy follows them into Cincinnati.
Derek Dietrich did not hit a ball out of the stadium today and then take a selfie at home plate while tweaking his nipples, but the Reds still found away to do something entirely irksome. Joey Votto managed to work out the Reds’ fourth hit by pitch of the sixth inning by just leaning into the damned thing.
Yeah, that was a pitch a little up and definitely in and it was the third such pitch in the sequence, so Votto knew what Dyson and Vogt were up to. It wasn’t a bad play on his part, and it really didn’t matter at that point in the game, but let’s all agree that the Giants made this weird hit by pitch history —
Pablo Sandoval pitched the ninth. Of course, he drilled a batter. For the first time in recorded history (since 1908), #SFGiants hit five batters in a game.— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) May 6, 2019
— because Joey Votto channeled James Harden on one pitch.
Still, John Shea’s tweet there gives me a perfect transition into Pablo pitching yet another scoreless inning. Of course, it comes in one of the strangest games the San Francisco Giants have ever played and it’s also the second straight year wherein the Giants had to use a position player to finish up a series in Cincinnati (it was Chase d’Arnaud last year).
Yeah, Pablo hit the fifthbatter of the day, setting a franchise record, but then he settled in to get the double play:
Good things happen when you #LetPabloPitch pic.twitter.com/LqZywlQxLA— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) May 6, 2019
As a former writer on this site notes:
Pablo Sandoval is now on a list of Giants legends with at least two innings pitched and a 0.00 ERA, joining Heath Hembree, Matty Alou, and High Pockets Kelly. https://t.co/FqweBnwiAk— Grant Brisbee (@GrantBrisbee) May 6, 2019
Before he pitched the 8th, he started at third base, stole second base, and hit a 3-run home run:
Crazy that he's stolen 12 bases in 1,200 career games and has homered in four of those games. 1 SB every 100 games.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) May 6, 2019
Anthony DeSclafani spent most of the afternoon pumping 94 mph fastballs by the Giants and ended his afternoon with 8 strikeouts in six innings. There will always be games where the opposing pitcher dominates, there will be games where you beat yourself, but a bee game where DeSclafani dominates and the Giants beat themselves is not one you could ever expect or expect to see again.
Just two more notes about this one:
- Our Roger Munter commented, “There’s a solid chance that 15 years from now the last four days will be all we remember from 2019. It was like an extended play version of the Bob Brenly game.”
- Also, it’s over. It’s finally over. No more games at the Great American Ballpark this year.