This was supposed to be the easiest road trip of the season. The Giants played nine games against the worst team in the National League, the worst team in the American League, and a team that can’t ever get out of its own way. They went 4-5 and along the way they outscored 45 to 42, one of their free agent acquisitions may have pitched his way out of a job, and they were shut out by a 36-year-old who can’t throw 88. Oh, and Mac Williamson hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat with his new team.
But this game wasn’t without its positives. It started terribly, and the Giants only managed three hits, but they still could have won this game if not for some bad luck in the seventh and some bad pitching in the eighth.
From the get-go, this looked to be a disastrous outing for Shaun Anderson. Before he could even record an out, the Mets had a two-run lead with two runners on. Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith went back-to-back to lead off the game. After the dingers, Pete Alonso walked and Michael Conforto singled. But Anderson managed to escape the first without any more damage done.
From there, Anderson contained the Mets. The only time they got runners into scoring position was when Adeiny Hechavarria bunted for a hit and when Michael Conforto ran on a pitch that would have been a double play ball.
After the first four batters of the game, a quality start seemed impossible, but Anderson managed to do it. He was visibly frustrated when he was taken out in the seventh, but it’s pretty incredible he made it that far. He only struck out three* in six innings, so he wasn’t blowing the Mets away but he recorded nine groundball outs. He had more batted balls below 80 mph than hard hit balls.
*Really, he struck out four, but a clear swing and miss was overturned into a foul ball a solid minute after the fact. It was truly bizarre.
Anderson was tagged for a third run when the Mets BABIP’d Reyes Moronta to death. Moronta faced three batters and those three batters hit a 65-mph ground ball, popped up a bunt, and hit a 62-mph blooper. The Giants got one out and the Mets brought a run home. The Mets did everything they could to waste that opportunity, but every ball was placed perfectly. Even the popped-up bunt wound up being a pretty good bunt.
It’s fitting that the Mets took the lead on a one-handed home run that brought Todd Frazier to a knee. The expected batting average was just .230 and at 94.7 mph, it wasn’t technically a hard-hit ball. Don’t blame Mark Melancon for that one. Blame him for the double to Juan Lagares or for hitting J.D. Davis or for the Jeff McNeil single, sure, but he got Frazier to do what he wanted him to do. The ball just floated over the fence.
A lot has been written about the Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltrán trade. I don’t think I need to rehash the points that even though Beltrán got hurt immediately, he was incredible down the stretch. Sure, Zack Wheeler looks amazing now, but the Giants won two World Series in the next three years following that trade. The Giants aren’t terrible now because of that trade.
But perhaps the biggest loser of that trade was Wheeler himself. Since his debut in 2013, Wheeler has only thrown two complete seasons. He’s had to undergo Tommy John, and he’s had to deal with myriad other injuries including bicep tendinitis and whatever a streaa reaction is.
It’s completely possible that Wheeler would suffer the same injuries in any other organization, but the Mets are notoriously inept at keeping their pitchers healthy especially their pitchers. The Mets allowed Noah Syndergaard to forego an MRI in 2017 when he had bicep tendinitis and a lat strain. They had Yoenis Cespedes play through a hamstring injury. Just last night, Robinson Canó reaggravated his quad injury, and he never did any sort of rehab assignment.
There’s no proof that the Mets mishandled Wheeler, but maybe a more accomplished medical staff would have implemented more preventative measures or rehab would have gone quicker. Maybe things would have turned out exactly the same had he stayed in the Giants organization, but if I’m a young pitcher, the last place I want to go is to the Mets.
Incredibly, the Giants were not no-hit or even shut out by Zack Wheeler. After they failed to even get a runner to third base against Jason Vargas, Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval both homered. Brandon Belt hit an opposite field homer in the fourth inning to tie the game.
That was Belt’s 10th homer of the year which puts him on pace for a career-high 26 homers. We’re right around the time that Belt gets hit with a pitch or he becomes the victim of an errant t-shirt cannon blast, so the most important thing that we can do for Brandon Belt is to give him a bodyguard that will dive in front of all incoming projectiles. He could be the first Giant to 20-homers since 2015, dag nabbit. We must protect him.
We should also protect Pablo Sandoval though he’s less prone to misfortune. Sandoval has been coming back to earth as of late and he looked a bit overmatched against Wheeler even at the beginning of the at-bat that ended with a homer. But he just needed to take one good swing.
Sandoval is on pace for 21 homers, so the Giants could have two 20-homer guys in one year. Two! Imagine it. They’d almost be like a normal team.