The Giants lost 4-0, but this game had no business being this close. The score only created the illusion of it being a winnable game for the Giants, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Giants were lucky this wasn’t an 8-0 loss. When the Giants were on defense, every inning not pitched by Trevor Gott was a miserable slog. When the Giants were on offense, every inning was a quick, breezy affair punctuated with singles that turned into outs.
The Giants needed 213 pitches to get their 27 outs; the Nationals needed just 113. The Giants may have outhit the Nationals, but Giants pitchers combined for eight walks. They let the Nationals score on a balk, a dropped fly ball, and a double steal that only worked because the Giants made double bad throws.
This loss not only pushed the Giants out of the Wild Card race, but it pushed them below .500 for the first time since July 21. The Giants had shown signs of sputtering at the end of July, but I didn’t think the collapse would be so sudden and horrific.
Before we get into the nincompoopery and fecklessness of tonight’s dull loss, let’s focus on the Giants who actually did their job well tonight.
Trevor Gott pitched two scoreless innings against a team that traded him away for a sack of gold coins. Gott faced six batters, retiring them all in a row. While the Nationals were outclassing the Giants in every regard, San Francisco could still say, “Well at least we didn’t give up Trevor Gott for nothing.”
All right, who else?
Kevin Pillar made a brilliant catch but that was erased with the dropped fly.
Jeff Samardzija was the only Giant with an extra base hit, but he generally pitched poorly.
The Brandons each had two balls hit at 100 mph or more, but all four of those went for outs.
Jeff Samardzija pitched his way into trouble in the second inning by walking the first two batters. You could almost forgive him for walking Juan Soto who accordions his body together when he gets to two strikes. Samardzija threw him a fastball that could gone either way, but he didn’t get the call. Had Samardzija been hitting his spots, maybe he would have gotten that call. He was doing himself any favors on the borderline pitches with the cutters that went way out of the zone.
He could have walked Brian Dozier to load the bases, but Dozier popped out on a 3-2 offering at the letters. That would not be the last time that Samardzija would be bailed out in that inning. Kurt Suzuki smashed what would have been a two-run double into the gap, but Kevin Pillar, who was brought over to do exactly this, flew over and caught it.
There were tons of great things about this catch, but my favorite thing might have been the field mic picking up a Nats fan getting the joy sucked out of him.
To Samardzija’s credit, he held the Nationals to just one run, but he needed 98 pitches to get through four innings. Every batter was a war of attrition. If he got to two strikes, he had trouble putting them away. He got to six separate 3-2 counts and issued three walks. But as he struggled to get quick outs, the Nationals struggled to get solid contact. Aside from a couple knocks it was a lot of pop ups and soft liners.
Only one Nationals hitter managed to top Jeff Samardzija’s double in exit velocity. Samardzija tried to make up for shakiness on the mound with a double roped into the left field corner, but the top of the order couldn’t bring him home. Brandon Belt hit a sharp line drive, but because it’s Brandon Belt it went right at an infielder.
Sam Coonrod came in to relieve Samardzija, and Coonrod’s outing really made you appreciate just how competent Samardzija was tonight. In Shark’s rough inning, he only walked the first two batters. Coonrod walked the first three and then balked in a run. In his defense, it was the sort of balk call that really makes you wonder if a base should be awarded for it. Coonrod hadn’t even come set so not only was there no intention of deceiving the runner but deceiving the runner wouldn’t have even been advantageous.
With the pitcher in trouble again, the ball was hit to the guy who saved the day previously. This time around, though, Pillar never saw the ball. Duggar, who was playing right, also didn’t see it, so it’s hard to get too mad at Pillar. It was probably deep enough to score the run from third regardless and that was the last run the Nationals got that inning. Dropping the fly ball wound up being immaterial, but that meant Coonrod had to work a little harder to get the third out.
This was Juan Soto’s 10th career three-walk game. Soto is younger than Radiohead’s OK Computer and he’s only played in 218 games.
Brandon Belt, who has a reputation for drawing walks, has nine three-walk games in 1,037 games. Buster Posey, who has a good shot at the Hall of Fame, has 13 in 1,227 games. Bryce Harper had 11 the entire time he was in Washington.
Juan Soto might be really effing good is what I’m trying to say.