Where would the Giants be without Pablo Sandoval? He was thrown into the lake at the end of 2008 and the ripple effect carried over into 2009 and setup a whole new era of Giants Baseball. The Giants won a bunch and then he left in what could generously be construed as a fit of pique for the Boston Red Sox.
But then they discarded him and, in a desperate attempt to generate some goodwill with the fan base during a disastrous 2017 season, the Giants brought him back. Consider everything he’s done since that return.
- He ruined the Giants’ draft position with a walk-off home run to end 2017, which brought the Giants their current #1 prospect, Joey Bart
- He pitched a scoreless inning in a blowout against the Dodgers to start the 2018 season that not only inspired a t-shirt but the team and everyone with a rooting interest
- He was a pinch hitter extraordinaire before he became a stabilizing force in what was once a sad lineup, but regardless of his playing time, he’s consistently delivered big hits late
That’s not bad for a retread and a guy who’s been a punchline in the minds of a lot of people. At the very least, he’s been a good luck charm for the franchise.
He hit a leadoff double in the top of the ninth. Sandoval was late on two 93 mph fastballs right down the middle, so on a 3-2 pitch, Kirby Yates chose to throw an 86 mph splitter. It caught too much of the zone and Sandoval smacked it into left center field.
Of course he was stranded, but the point remains that he started a rally. His game-winning home run came batting right-handed, the second time this year he’s done that... and after everyone thought his switch hitting days were over... that was almost three years ago.
According to the post-game wrap, “the Gianst are now the first MLB team since 1912 to win six extra innings games in a 10-game span”. But they’ve also played seven extra inning games since the All-Star Break ended and after tonight’s 2-1 win, they’re 7-0. As Dave Flemming added, “they’ve allowed just four runs in 33 extra innings.”
As much as Pablo Sandoval has been a consistent force in the lineup all year, the bullpen has been even greater. It’s just...
It’s really damn good.
I mean... Mark Melancon looked like an elite closer out there. Will Smith didn’t look sharp, but he looked good. Tony Watson gave up a hard hit fly ball and was bailed out by Kevin Pillar’s defense, but otherwise, he mowed through power righties with ease. Reyes Moronta had no trouble in his inning.
Fernando Tatis Jr. led off the bottom of the 8th with a 111.4 mph lineout to Donovan Solano off a 92.1 mph fastball from Sam Dyson, but he didn’t buckle. He was fine after that.
The bullpen is just really damn impressive. It’s easy to see why the rest of the baseball world desperately wants the Giants to break it up.
It’s worth noting that the Giants’ run since June 1st has also been helped greatly by the rotation. With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Austin Hedges’ eighth home run of the year was thanks to an obliterated two-seam fastball that cut right into the middle of the plate. Absolutely blasted against the Western Metal Supply building.
That was the worst mistake the Padres hit tonight, but otherwise, Samardzija was able to get away with other mistakes because when he was hitting his spots, he was nearly impossible to hit. Tonight might’ve been a combination of extreme humidity (75% at game time), but also it looked like both teams had a game plan of attacking the pitcher. Both Samardzija and the Padres’ Joey Lucchesi were able to keep hitters off balance with an effective mix of fastballs and changeups.
The effectiveness of the starting rotation shouldn’t be overlooked.
Huh, how about that? Solid contributions from the rotation, a dominant bullpen, and just enough offense... what year are we in? Are these the components of a bad team?...
Just for fun, here’s when the Giants won their 53rd game in recent seasons:
2019: July 26th | 53-51
2018: July 29th | 53-54
2017: August 28th | 53-80
2016: July 4th | 53-32
2015: July 25th | 53-44
2014: July 13th | 53-43
2013: August 15th | 53-67
2012: July 21st | 53-41 ** also an extra innings game
2011: July 14th | 53-40
2010: July 22nd | 53-43
Pitching is art. Deceptive, humiliating art... like magic. Yeah, pitchers are magicians. When the pitcher is at the top of his profession, he gets a lot of hat tips and begrudging respect from his opponents. When he’s like a street magician, fooling the batter — the mark — in such a way that they should have known how the trick — sorry, illusion — it’s human nature to really loathe the guy in that moment.
Nobody wants to be a fool, but when Max Scherzer makes a batter look like one, it’s understandable. Joey Lucchesi was out there sequencing Giants hitters with sinkers, changeups, and the tough to hear-sounding “churve” of his. For what it’s worth, Statcast reads that pitch as a changeup, so, let’s just state that he was going changeup-fastball on Giants hitters most of the night.
Every pitch in an at bat, then, was a 50/50.
Top of the 6th, Lucchesi threw a sinker to Buster Posey on a 2-1 pitch and Posey not only couldn’t read the pitch, he also swung late and swung over the top of it. He was looking to foul off another churve, but didn’t get it.
He spent most of the night throwing 88-90 with the occasional dip into 76-78. It was a frustrating night from a guessing game standpoint, and even the most accomplished hitters in the Giants’ lineup who might not ordinarily be classic “guess” hitters were forced to do exactly that because of Lucchesi’s ability to disguise the pitch type.
Manny Machado then turned a brilliant double play to snuff out the threat, fielding Pillar’s hot shot but then running to third base to get the first out before launching the ball across the infield to get Pillar at first base. It brilliantly left Buster Posey as the only baserunner, putting rookie Zach Green in the position of having to hit a home run in order to score Posey. Oh wait. Why waste a description on this when I can just embed another tweet:
Jeff Samardzija struck out Manny Machado three times, the third time with a 94 mph fastball, so I’m not technically praising the opponent so much as pointing out that as great a play as he made to neutralize the Giants’ threat, the Giants were able to neutralize him as a threat otherwise.
The Padres didn’t pin all their hopes on Manny Machado and his 10-year deal this offseason, but they were certainly counting on him to carry the weight a little bit more than he has. That time will come, though. It’s a bad look to bet against that. So, for now, let’s just count the Giants lucky for avoiding a blitz by Machado.
Here’s the guy who made the play on Pablo’s home run:
Unreal. Get this man a Gold Glove. pic.twitter.com/LD7mJf54VK— cole kuiper (@cmkuiper) July 27, 2019
It’s hard to be mad at a guy who leaned over to snatch the ball from your glove — or else lean into you enough to cause you to close the glove prematurely — when he’s holding an infant in his other arm, but it’d be understandable.
In the meantime, please join me in seeing that this dude’s face is a combination of Nate Schierholtz and Aubrey Huff. Or maybe I’ve watched too many Giants games.
Here’s the Padres’ tribute to Bruce Bochy before the game:
Padres tribute video for Bruce Bochy featured some amazing mustache footage: pic.twitter.com/Du7vy6u23b— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) July 27, 2019
The Padres honored Bruce Bochy’s final season tonight pic.twitter.com/RSqjkOPCm3— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) July 27, 2019
And this photo collage (courtesy of Kerry Crowley’s Twitter):
On the post-game wrap, they mentioned that one of the gifts the Padres gave him was a lifetime fishing license for the State of California. Talk about knowing your recipient. That’s going to be a tough gift to top.
Finally, and most terrifyingly, here is a mascot speaking.
Not a fan. Previously, the only time I’d heard a mascot speak was this scene:
Who knows what’s going to happen in August, but the Giants have done quite a lot in June and July to make it seem like the next month could matter. Does that mean the Giants will add to the roster at the trade deadline or subtract from it?
One path is a lot more fun than the other.