This game was the story of two pitchers. Pitchers who are alike in many ways. They’re both first-round picks. Both tall and right-handed. Both sporting ERAs in the mid-5s, and trying, with every start, to prove that they belong on a team playing meaningful baseball games.
In the black and orange corner, Tyler Joseph Beede. In the green and yellowish-goldish-urineish corner, David Dewitt Bailey Jr.
Both have their moments of maddening (if you’re a fan of their opponent) brilliance, splattered around an abundance of maddening (if you’re a fan of their team) struggles.
If you’re a fan of the San Francisco Giants, it’s easy to forget that this is true of Homer Bailey. When I think of Bailey my mind immediately rushes to his no-hitter during the 2013 season, and my brain fills in the blanks, assuming him to be a former Cy Young candidate helping a team with a playoff push.
In reality, Bailey has pitched in 13 MLB seasons, and been worth negative Wins Above Average (WAA) in nine of them. He’s been worth more than 0.5 WAA in only one season in his career. He was rocking a 5.54 ERA/4.57 FIP coming into Wednesday’s game.
He’s capable of pitching a no-hitter, and I’d be fearful of it happening even if he’s pitching when he’s 60. But he’s also not good.
Which brings us to Tyler Beede, because, hey, that sure sounds like the Giants young(ish, kind of) pitcher, doesn’t it?
If you were to tell me a Giants pitcher would throw a no-hitter this month, I might pick Beede as the likeliest candidate. And Madison Bumgarner has literally allowed just three hits in his last 14 innings. Beede’s just that electric.
He’s also bad (currently), and liable to give up a back-breaking amount of runs in a remarkably short period.
So what do you do when you have two pitchers who are not particularly good but have the potential to be? You put them in the
ring diamond and see what happens.
Here’s what happened: Beede, despite throwing 50 of 80 pitches for strikes and getting eight swing-throughs, gave up eight hits in four innings, including three extra-base hits. He hit two batters and allowed four runs. And Bailey, despite allowing 122 hits and 46 walks in 115.1 innings prior to Wednesday, gave up just two hits, one walk, and zero runs in seven innings of work.
And that was the game.
Of course, the story isn’t just about Beede and Bailey. Part of why Bailey was so efficient was because the Giants, a below-average offense, didn’t hit well. And part of why Beede got rocked is because the Oakland A’s, an above-average offense, did. That’s a part of it.
Matt Chapman, who had two home runs, is apparently very good at this whole baseball thing. The middle of the order - Robbie Grossman, Chapman, and Matt Olson - combined to hit 7-13 with with two doubles and three home runs. That’s a pretty solid way to win a baseball game.
After Beede left the game, the Giants continued to give up runs. They entered the bottom of the eighth inning trailing 7-0, when suddenly their offense came to life. After two-plus hours of exceptionally boring baseball (unless you’re an A’s fan, which I’ve heard exist somewhere), things were finally interesting.
Brandon Crawford singled. Austin Slater walked. Crawford took third on a lineout by Donovan Solano, then scored on a wild pitch to break the seal. Brandon Belt walked. And then came the big hit, a dead-center three-run shot courtesy of the man who somehow just keeps hitting, Mike Yastrzemski.
They weren’t quite done. Evan Longoria reached on an infield single, and Stephen Vogt brought the tying run to the plate with a double.
Up came the return we’ve all been waiting for. Dick! Dick! Dick! you chanted in your head (or perhaps aloud, to weird looks from those in the vicinity). Alex Dickerson made his return, in a pinch-hitting role, representing the tying run.
It was easy to dream. Alas, Dickerson flew out, knocking in a run in the process. The Giants had, against all odds, made it a two-run game.
That situation is always a mixed bag. A five-run eighth inning is unequivocally a good thing, even in a lost game. It gives us more positive data points for both individual and team offense, moving our evaluation and predictions ever so slightly in a positive direction. It potentially builds momentum. It’s fun and exciting.
On the flip side, it opens up an enormous can of what-ifs.
Bruce Bochy could have taken Beede out after he allowed the first two baserunners to reach in the third inning. He opted to let his starter work through the struggles and eat some innings. Not a bad choice. Not a choice I even thought twice about. But a choice that cost the team two third-inning runs.
Bochy could have opted for Reyes Moronta or Tony Watson for the sixth inning, instead of Travis Bergen. Trailing 4-0 with a feckless offense, that would have been a weird choice. He could have done the seam in the eighth with Williams Jerez, but down 6-0 with a feckless offense, that would have been an even weirder choice.
Yet after a five-run bottom of the eighth, those three bullpen runs from back of the bullpen, innings-eating options hurt, even if the process was sound.
Of course, Trevor Gott then gave up two runs in the top of the ninth, so . . .
Brandon Belt struck out to end the game. It was already over, for all intents and purposes, as the Giants trailed 9-5 with just one runner on base and two outs.
Still, Brandon Belt struck out to end the game. He struck out looking. He struck out looking on this pitch:
Most called third strikes on pitches that were out of the zone this season:— Matt Wilkes (@_MattWilkes) August 11, 2019
Joey Votto: 18
Brandon Belt: 14
Domingo Santana: 13
Jorge Soler: 13
Nick Ahmed: 13