I regret to inform you that the Giants are bad again. For four beautiful games, the Giants looked like the best team in baseball scoring 40 runs while giving up just 15. Up and down the lineup, the Giants mashed doubles and dingers. The team completed their first three-game sweep of the season. They were only 5.5 games out of the second Wild Card!
It didn’t take long for the shine to wear off tonight. The Cardinals jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Giants could take their first at-bat. The Giants, to their credit, answered with two in the bottom half of the inning, though it easily could have been more. The Giants of three days ago would have put up a six-spot after loading the bases with no outs, but the Giants turned back into pumpkins over the holiday.
Everyone except for Alex Dickerson that is. In the third, Dickerson hit his fourth home run of the season to tie the game.
At that point, the Giants were right back in it. All they had to do was take control of the last six innings.
They did not take control of the last six innings. Things just got worse from there. The Giants hit the ball hard a few times but always to the deepest part of the yard. But the Giants needed more than another double and a solo shot. They needed someone way to stop the inexorable march of the Cardinals offense, and for that, they had no answer.
One of the things that makes baseball so delightful is how unpredictable it is. We can trick ourselves into thinking that we know how things are going to shake out. Even as projection systems have become more accurate and robust than ever before, we still get surprise seasons from the Twins. Unexpected players like Ketel Marte and Matthew Boyd and Gio Urshela break out. We never really know what’s going to happen.
Except for the times when we know exactly what’s going to happen. Everyone knew that Paul Goldschmidt was going to homer in the first inning. After the ball landed in the netting beyond the center field wall, my entire Twitter feed was some variant of “Of course Goldschmidt is going to get hot against the Giants.” My brother sent me a text reading,
I was gonna make a joke about how he was gonna wake up this series and hit .500 for the rest of July but then I realized it was too obvious and of course thats gonna happen.
Goldschmidt has been having a down year by his standards—his .323 wOBA would rank third among Giants who were on the Opening Day roster and his 15 homers would lead the team—but that doesn’t matter. He was slumping hard before his first trip to San Francisco last season, too, but then he went 5-for-12 with two home runs. Goldschmidt wound up 1-for-3 with the home run and two walks tonight.
If Goldschmidt needs to visit Oracle Park to get his bat on track, that could really cut into his Hall of Fame chances now that he’s out of the NL West until 2025. This year he’s had to go months without feasting upon the hearts of Giants pitchers to gain their power. In future seasons, it could be even longer. Who knows if Goldschmidt will enter Cooperstown wearing a Diamondbacks or Cardinals or an Ex-Rays cap, but his plaque should absolutely depict him standing over a fallen Giant, siphoning their soul with his eldritch arts.
Drew Pomeranz’s brief outing was about as surprising as Goldschmidt’s awakening. Pomeranz went four innings, gave up four runs, struck out three, and walked four. In 16 starts, he’s finished the sixth inning just once. Starters aren’t going as deep into games now that 13-pitcher bullpens are increasingly common and managers are more aware of the third time through the order penalty, but Pomeranz isn’t just airing it out for the first 18 batters and turning it over to the bullpen. Bochy wants him to throw 90-100 pitches every outing, but there’s no such thing as a quick out for Pomeranz.
There also haven’t been any easy outs for Pomeranz this season. Pomeranz will enter the All-Star break with a 6.42 ERA. In the San Francisco era, the only Giants starter to throw at least 50 innings and have a worse ERA in a single season is Mark Gardner at 6.69. Pomeranz needs to throw around 95 more innings to break Matt Moore’s record for worst ERA by a qualified starter, but somehow I don’t think he’s going to get that opportunity.
Trevor Gott came in to relieve Drew Pomeranz, and Gott’s greatest weakness undid his outing. For as sharp as his movement is, Gott has an unnatural tendency to give up groundballs that just barely evade an infielder. Gott’s fifth inning went like this:
He gave up two runs. The Giants had two chances to turn double plays, but the Cardinals beat out the back end both times. Gott deserved better tonight, but each grounder was just a foot too far and each attempt to turn two just a bit too slow. The silver lining is that his outing didn’t end with a grand slam like his outing against the Dodgers not too long ago.
Mark Melancon didn’t have much more luck. He made it through one inning without much issue, but he came back out for the seventh and got hit hard.
Ray Black made his 2019 debut and it was eerily similar to his major league debut last summer. His first game as a big leaguer also came against the Cardinals, and he also impressed early with his triple-digit velocity. Unfortunately, Black also gave up another home run onto the arcade. At least Dexter Fowler’s shot wasn’t a three-run bomb.
Black also struck out two in the inning and his command looked sharp, the hanging breaking ball to Fowler notwithstanding.
The Giants being good was fun while it lasted. Time to trade everyone who’s making money.