I have a word for the 2019 Giants: desultory. As in, “lacking a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm.” The ol’ thesaurus.com suggests “aimless” and “without purpose” as synonyms. Both fit, but desultory’s harder to say and that vowel-consonant pileup at “ultor” makes it almost boring to try and say. That’s what these Giants are: just boring.
Sure, tonight’s Tyler Beede versus Alex Young was Game #14 in this 20 games straight part of the schedule the Giants are on, but it was also a home game and Young’s major league debut. This did not have to be a 5-1 sleeper, but it was because — see above. Desultory.
There’s nothing to be learned from these losses. The Giants aren’t working out the kinks in some of their younger prospects who are just trying to figure out how to keep their heads above water against major league competition. They’re not trying to find the right mix of veterans and rookies, either. They’re just... existing. Sleepwalking through the scheduled competition. What more can they do?
So, on that note, there wasn’t anything particularly remarkable about tonight’s loss. Nothing happened that was unexpected —
- We’ve seen the Giants’ offense get shut down by a starting pitcher making his major league debut many times
- Trevor Gott’s underlying numbers suggested he was due for some home run unluck
- Since 2017, the Giants have scored exactly one run in 14.2% (2017), 16.7% (2018), and 10% (2019) of their games
- They’ve already had five hits or fewer in 11 of their 80 games this season
— and the only real surprise of the night was Tyler Beede’s okayish performance and, possibly, Brandon Belt’s monstrous home run to center field off the rookie in the 4th inning.
Does it mean there’s nothing to say about this 5-1 loss?
The Diamondbacks are now 4-0 at Oracle Park this year and have outscored the Giants in their home stadium 39-9. It’d be embarrassing if it all wasn’t so sad. Not only is there nothing to learn from these losses and not only do none of these losses materially help the Giants in the future beyond draft position but there’s no tunnel to hope.
Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, and Brandon Belt won’t ever be as good as we’ve seen them in the past, and that past grows more distant with each passing month.
That’s the pall over every loss these days, though, and it’s a renewable gripe source, so I won’t invoke it beyond those sentences. If you’d rather think about how this game actually turned on a few close plays, I wouldn’t blame you, and I’d think you might even have an argument.
Let’s start with Dan Iassogna’s strike zone. It was not inconsistent so much as it was bad. Here’s the key walk to Nick Ahmed in the top of the 7th inning that paved the way for Carson Kelly’s 2-run home run to really put a 2-1 game out of reach:
Pitch 8 was a strike, but it wasn’t called, and two pitches later, this happened with Carson Kelly:
Was Pitch 2 more ball than strike? Sure. But a righty-righty matchup with a ball just above the letters seems like one that could have easily been called and a strike an umpire might be expecting. Instead, Gott tried to get too cute and, inexplicably, he and Posey agreed that throwing a fastball right down the middle on a 1-1 count was the right pitch to call.
(That’s not really what happened: Posey set up for at or below the knees and Gott through it practically middle-middle.)
The Giants did not get such a generous zone. Brandon Crawford’s at bat in the seventh inning looked like this:
While Belt got this zone in the 6th.
Pitches 2 and 4 were called strikes. So, yeah, that’s one area where a couple of different results could’ve altered the outcome a bit.
Another area was on defense. Tyler Beede walked All-Star Ketel Marte with one out in the top of the 4th, which didn’t seem like a problem at the time. Beede had already gotten a double play in the 2nd inning and to that point he had really held the Diamondbacks in check.
But then David Peralta scalded a line drive up the middle that deflected off of Brandon Crawford’s glove. That deflection gave the ball hang time and enough time for Marte to scoot over to third base. Christian Walker grounded out in the next at bat to drive in Marte.
In the top of the 6th, Marte doubled to left on an awkward misplay by Tyler Austin. Alex Dickerson or Yastrzemski might’ve been able to actually catch the ball or at the very least have had the experience to possibly field it in a way that they were setup to throw the ball in quickly to hold the runner. Marte did hit it pretty deep, but Austin seemed more interested in pocketing and securing it than he did in “fielding” it, and while Arizona didn’t score that inning, that double setup a walk to David Peralta, which put two on with one out.
Maybe Beede is able to face Peralta and retire him if Marte’s just at first instead of second and maybe Peralta getting out there instead of getting on base slows the lineup turnover enough to change the rest of the game.
Still, the actual result was pretty spectacular. Reyes Moronta came into the game with two on and one out and just powered through:
No funny business — just the gas. Maybe Moronta read my trade ranking from last night. In that report, I mentioned that Moronta’s hard hit rate was one of the worst by a reliever in MLB, painting a not so rosy pitcher about the Giants’ best young relief arm. He’d been laying off his fastball recently — we’ve seen a lot more of the changeup and slider — so maybe he’s figured something out to get his fastball command back or maybe this was just the right arsenal for this part of the order.
In any case, it was beautiful and I’m glad I got to see it.
But, I also had to watch the Giants flail against a 25-year old rookie who has a 6.09 ERA in 54.2 Triple-A innings this year. His arsenal wasn’t too complicated: away, away, away. His fastball topped out at 93.5 mph and between his four-seamer and two-seamer, he threw a “heater” just twenty-three times in 82 pitches (28%). Otherwise, changeup, slider, curveball held the Giants at bay... for the most part. Brandon Belt’s 10th home run of the season came on the slider, and he hit it 416 feet.
This was only the sixth time in the past 10 years that the Giants have given a rookie his first major league win in his debut, which is remarkable. That nagging feeling in the back of your mind (I know, it was in mine, too) that this is wrong somehow ought to be allayed by this search: tonight was the 26th time in the past decade that the Giants have lost to a pitcher with five or fewer major league starts to his record.