In today’s 6-2 loss, the Rockies spent the afternoon erasing all the good feelings of a pre-trade deadline run and, really, this series reminded us that as good as the Giants have been, they’re just one series in Coors Field away from being the 2017 team.
On the other hand, Coors Field is Thanksgiving with your estranged family. None of your jokes work, you can’t be yourself because everyone still thinks of you as the child they watched grow up, and nothing about being there feels natural or even remotely enjoyable.
Sure, sometimes there are home runs and sometimes there are big innings that work in the Giants’ favor, but most of the time, these games are the Thanksgiving dinner equivalent (again — in the estranged family scenario) of having to bite your tongue while people just say awful, ill-advised things and while food you’d ordinarily enjoy very much under a different context tastes, at best, like ash.
Nolan Arenado had a sub-.700 OPS in the entire month of July, but has a .900+ OPS in his career against the Giants. He hit two solo home runs. Trevor Story homered for the second straight day. Tyler Beede needs to go back and watch video of Charlie Blackmon to figure out how to get him out, after Blackmon went 3-for-3 against him and 3-for-5 for the day. The top four hitters of the Rockies’ lineup went a combined 9-for-15 with three home runs, five RBI, two walks, and zero strikeouts. Maybe Farhan can fix the scouting department’s blind spot here at some point in the next five years.
But the Giants don’t have to play another game there the rest of the season, either, so there’s that. As awful as they were this afternoon, and as thoroughly beaten by the Rockies they were when it really shouldn’t have been so lopsided, the Giants do not have to play another game there this season.
Today was a win for the pessimists who wanted this team to be torn to shreds and were waiting to delight in the cries of children who’d miss their favorite players, but that win doesn’t have to be permanent. No, the Giants shouldn’t have traded Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith for a couple of A-ball players, but the Rockies sure did make it feel like that would’ve been better than losing every game like today’s game the rest of the season even with those guys on the roster. But again, the Giants don’t have to play another game at Coors Field this season. They have a chance to be better tomorrow than they were today.
I just really need to emphasize that they were really bad today. Not only are the Rockies a bad team, but today’s starter, Kyle Freeland, is the sixth-worst pitcher in baseball. Or, at least, was before today’s five-inning, five-strikeout, two runs allowed (both Donovan Solano solo home runs) performance.
This was only the fourth start of the season wherein he’s allowed two runs or fewer. The Rockies demoted him in May after posting a 7.13 ERA in his first 12 starts of the season. He had an 8.66 ERA in the four starts since his recall, two at home and two on the road. In those two home starts, he’d allowed 12 earned runs in 7.2 innings with three strikeouts and three walks.
The Giants looked tired, old, and worn out. It was the end of a three-city road trip, sure, but to not have an at bat with a runner in scoring position and to draw just one walk in five innings against a guy who has a 3.7 BB/9 just doesn’t look great for a team trying to be better than how they looked in this series. The only thing they managed to do that was consistent with Kyle Freeland’s season was hit home runs off of him. Prior to today’s start, he’d allowed 20 in 77.2 innings pitched.
Donovan Solano led off the game with a no-doubter and followed it up with another one in the top of the third. He also made this fantastic play in the bottom of the fifth inning:
That’s vintage Brandon Crawford defense from the backup shortstop on a day when the Giants showed absolutely zero signs of life. Solano has been a steady contributor in a limited amount of time, and he, along with perhaps Yastrzemski and Evan Longoria’s return could be key factors in the non-Coors part of the Giants’ schedule.
In the meantime, it’s tough to win games when outside of Solano, the Giants get just five hits from the rest of their lineup and Brandon Belt and Buster Posey combine to go 0-for-8 with two strikeouts.
After last night’s triumph against a 100.7 mph fastball, Buster Posey didn’t hit a ball out of the infield until the top of the ninth when he hit a shallow fly ball to right on the first pitch he saw. His double play in the first inning killed a 1-out, 1-on situation. Belt had both strikeouts and when he wasn’t fouling off 94 mph fastballs, he was swinging over the top of sliders away.
It was a bad, bad game all the way around, but thankfully, the Giants do not have to play another game in Coors Field in 2019.
They flashed this graphic during the telecast...
... and I’d like to think that five years from now, Bruce Bochy will say he’s actually kind of okay with a .449 winning percentage in that nightmarish hellscape of a baseball stadium.
Or, he’ll just never want to stop and consider ever watching a game there. That’s the smart call. That’s a really nice picture of him in the telecast graphic, but I think we all know that this one in the photo tool, snapped during today’s game, is much closer to how Bruce Bochy normally looks when the Giants play at Coors Field.
Do the Giants always lose a game in which they hit a leadoff home run? Henry Schulman of the Chronicle has a Schulman Corollary —
To reiterate Schulman Corollary: If the leadoff hitter on visiting team homers to start the game, the home team always wins.— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) June 2, 2011
For the 302nd time since 2000, the Giants lost a game on the road in which they hit at least one home run. But how many of those road home runs were leadoff home runs?
Leadoff home runs + road losses since 2000
|Date||Giant||Opponent||Opposing Team||Final Score|
|Date||Giant||Opponent||Opposing Team||Final Score|
|7/18/2004||Ray Durham||Adam Bernero||Rockies||10-9|
|7/29/2004||Ray Durham||Ismael Valdez||Padres||7-4|
|5/29/2007||Randy Winn||Oliver Perez||Mets||5-4|
|6/3/2007||Randy Winn||Freddy Garcia||Phillies||9-8|
|8/30/2008||Randy Winn||Ramon Ramirez||Reds||7-6|
|5/22/2009||Aaron Rowand||Jason Vargas||Mariners||2-1|
|6/2/2009||Aaron Rowand||Craig Stammen||Nationals||10-6|
|9/3/2009||Eugenio Velez||Pedro Martinez||Phillies||2-1|
|9/20/2009||Andres Torres||Randy Wolf||Dodgers||6-2|
|7/9/2010||Andres Torres||Stephen Strasburg||Nationals||8-1|
|8/18/2010||Andres Torres||Joe Blanton||Phillies||8-2|
|7/22/2012||Nate Schierholtz||Joe Blanton||Phillies||4-3|
|8/6/2012||Angel Pagan||Jake Westbrook||Cardinals||8-2|
|8/24/2014||Gregor Blanco||Stephen Strasburg||Nationals||10-6|
|10/22/2014||Gregor Blanco||Yordano Ventura||Royals (WS)||7-2|
|5/10/2018||Gregor Blanco||Vince Velasquez||Phillies||6-3|
|7/2/2018||Gorkys Hernandez||Kyle Freeland||Rockies||5-2|
|9/9/2018||Gregor Blanco||Zach Davies||Brewers||6-3|
|5/28/2019||Joe Panik||Trevor Richards||Marlins||11-3|
|8/4/2019||Donovan Solano||Kyle Freeland||Rockies||6-2|
So, that’s 20 times out of 302 losses that the Giants have lost a game in which they’ve hit a leadoff home run. Just 6.6% of the time, or, about as often as Pablo Sandoval draws a walk.
There were 12 instances in which the second batter of the game homered for the Giants and they still lost, too, so, there’s nothing much to the corollary here. It’s just a weird thing that sticks in our minds because, well, you’d like to think that a leadoff home run portends to more runs being scored and a greater likelihood of the team winning.
Still, if you felt very strongly that the Giants were going to lose this game after Solano’s home run, that’s probably because what tends to happen in these leadoff home run losses is that the Giants’ pitching is bad.
Tyler Beede didn’t exhibit the minor league command and control that he did in May — he seems to have sorted that part of his game out a little bit — but he couldn’t quite overpower hitters with his fastball, and sequencing-wise, he opted to throw his slider more than usual in a park and situation where sliders don’t do what they normally do.
Not only did Charlie Blackmon look at no point overmatched, but in three plate appearances against him, Trevor Story homered on a hanging slider, turned an 0-2 count to a walk, and an 0-2 count to a double.
I think you’d agree that we’ve seen Tyler Beede improve over the course of the season, but in his last few starts, he seems to have taken a step back. Freeland had a -0.1 fWAR on the season in just 77 innings coming into today’s game, but Beede is tied with him in that same stat in what was just 70 innings before today. As good as he’s looked at times, he still has a long way to go.
Beede and Suarez helped Nolan Arenado record his first two-home run game since May 24, and, really, at no point did the Rockies hitters look flustered. Jandel Gustave came in and held the lineup at bay with power sinkers, but by that point, they were probably just struggling against quality stuff, something they’d yet to see in the game.