I spent too much time futzing around with our photo tool looking for a header image of Brandon Crawford, but nothing great was available and the damn thing kept crashing. Yes, that’s the opening line of a recap about the Giants defeating the worst team in baseball, 8-1, to take just their fifth series of the season. What of it?
Blogging is easy, but getting software to work is not... just as playing well against the Orioles appears to be easy, but it’s much more difficult to play against the rest of the league. For the moment, though, let’s enjoy how the Giants are clearly not worse than the Orioles.
If you’re only into baseball for the bird’s eye view of a franchise — decades long rebuilds constructed atop prospect fetishizing and payroll chicanery — then, yeah, this series win against the Orioles was a real let down. The Giants probably won’t wind up with the #1 overall pick come 2020, not as long as the Orioles are around.
If you’re into baseball because you’d rather spend three hours of your day watching to see if your team can pull out a victory or otherwise surprise you, then this was a decent weekend. Drew Pomeranz’s start on Friday night excepted, the Giants looked like the better team. In several instances, it felt like the Orioles weren’t really on the field and the Giants were just competing against themselves.
For those bird’s eye view only fans, your time will come, of course. Evan Longoria went 3-for-5 today — breaking an 0-for-21 streak — with three RBI, his first multi-RBI game since May 3rd, and just his third overall this season. Brandon Crawford hit two home runs, his first multi-home run game since August 2015. The Orioles helped a lot of the older Giants feel young again, if only for an instant; these flashes of former brilliance and peak ability have become less frequent over the past couple of seasons.
Still, take the good with the bad. Two of the three hardest hit balls today came off of Giants bats: Stephen Vogt led all exit velocities with a 108 mph double in the third. Longoria’s home run in the fourth was 105.9 mph. Hitting the ball hard is still a good way to know just how much baseball life is left in that bat.
We know the Giants aren’t as bad as the Orioles and we know their older players aren’t completely finished yet, and while those known quantities aren’t solely the result of this weekend’s series, it and today’s game served as good reminders — for me, anyway. Maybe the rest of you already knew this.
27 of Jeff Samardzija’s 110 pitches today had a velocity greater than 92 mph, and he managed to hit 94 in the sixth inning. His season average for both his two-seam and four-seam fastballs is right around 91.5 mph, so he was right there for the day.
He’s obviously come back healthy from his shoulder ailment, and while he’s not an All-Star starting pitcher, it’s time we look at the wasteland that is the Giants rotation and admit that Jeff Samardzija is the most consistent starter after Madison Bumgarner. He lasted six innings today (only the third time he’s pitched that deep into a game), struck out six (fourth-highest total in 2019), allowed just three hits, and walked zero.
If he was really a disaster, then he would’ve struggled against a bad lineup. Instead, he never gave in and managed to throw any pitch he wanted virtually at any time. Jeff Samardzija will be inconsistent, frustrating, and sometimes just plain bad, but he has his usefulness, particularly on a roster bereft of starting pitching.
Speaking of utility, Stephen Vogt ran the bases like a savvy veteran, worked the count (21 pitches in four plate appearances, including two walks), and hit a double, all while dealing with a back swing that knocked off his face mask and a bunch of balls in the dirt.
Vogt would’ve fit in perfectly with the old regime.
Mike Yastrzemski isn’t a “kid” in the baseball sense (he turned 28 in August), but let’s admire the weekend of work he just put in. He has an .854 OPS in 35 PA, which just going off of May’s stats, makes him the second-best hitter on the Giants at the moment (right behind Pablo Sandoval and just ahead of Tyler Austin).
Who knows what the next couple of weeks have in store for him, but he responded to the call and showed his old organization just what they’d lost — it’s always great to have players on a roster who feel they have something to prove — and he hit the ground running just how the Giants had hoped all of the previous outfielders would’ve done when called up.
Finally, and most importantly, there were only 10 home runs hit in this series, which means that the poll question I asked in the series preview — would the Giants and Orioles combine for Over or Under 10.5 home runs — would’ve been a lot better had I trusted my instinct and set the over/under at 9.5. Alas...