On Saturday night the Giants tried to do the same, and for half a game they made a valid argument. And then the seemingly inevitable thing happened: The Dodgers, who have MLB’s best record and run differential, played better baseball than the Giants, who are 24th and 28th, respectively.
So it goes.
Baseball is a game of averages. The worse team can win far more often than in basketball or football. But over time, things even out. 15 innings into the series, things started to even out.
Jeff Samardzija put up a fight. Like Drew Pomeranz a night before, he kept the Giants in the game.
It was close. He loaded the bases in the first, but squeaked out without harm. He finished the night with 5.1 innings pitched, seven hits, two walks, five strikeouts, and three earned runs. It wasn’t an inspiring performance, but it wasn’t a debilitating one, either.
But the bullpen wasn’t up to the task. After Samardzija left the game with two on and one out - following a hit batter to Joc Pederson, which Shark contested - Derek Holland came in.
If Bruce Bochy left Samardzija in for too long - and he did - he didn’t make the mistake with Holland. Holland walked Max Muncy, and that was that.
In came Trevor Gott, who was magnificent for 1.2 perfect innings.
But Derek Rodriguez was unable to keep the bullpen line moving. With the Giants only down 3-2 going into the eighth, Rodriguez took the mound. Since moving to the bullpen, Rodriguez has been solid.
That wasn’t the case tonight. After just three pitches, the Dodgers had runners on second and third. An infield hit loaded the bases, and that’s when things got ugly. Rodriguez walked Muncy, and then, just for good measure, he walked Justin Turner. Suddenly the Giants were down 5-2.
In came Mark Melancon, who promptly gave up a two-run double to Corey Seager.
Suddenly the Giants were down 7-2. An insurmountable deficit that was, indeed, not surmounted.
Cody Bellinger has been the best player in baseball this year. It goes without saying, then, that the Giants don’t have a player on Bellinger’s level.
That was fine today, as the MVP frontrunner was held in check. But the Giants also don’t have a player as good as Seager, who went 4-for-5 with two doubles and four runs batted in.
Maybe Joey Bart will one day be as good as Seager. Maybe Heliot Ramos will. Maybe Marco Luciano or Hunter Bishop will be.
But for now, the Giants don’t have a Corey Seager (or a Justin Turner, or a Max Muncy), let alone a Cody Bellinger.
These things take time.
In training camp, Farhan Zaidi spoke strong words of affirmation about Aramis Garcia. Zaidi noted that Garcia had big power. That was on display today, when the young catcher hit a an opposite-field home run - no small feat for a right-handed hitter at Oracle Park.
Garcia is a pretty fitting modern player. He struggles hitting for average, and doesn’t get on base much. But he can hit for some pop. His season is an extremely tiny sample size, but he’s hitting .188/.235/.563. Not traditional - but they’ll take it from a backup.
Even in a five-run game, baseball is a game of inches. Samardzija nearly get ejected arguing a “missed” strike three (it appeared to be the right call but could have easily gone the other way), and the result was some runs for the Dodgers.
In the third inning, the Giants loaded the bases with one out. In the fifth, they loaded the bases with no outs.
None of their eight hits or five walks followed.
And that’s just the way the (base) ball bounces.