Well, well, well. How the turn tables.
In shocking - truly shocking, I tell you - news, the San Francisco Giants are not a team that will win 19 games for every six they lose, as was the case in July.
After losing to the Washington Nationals 4-1, the Giants have now lost as many games in August as they lost in July. But rather than have 19 wins to go against those six losses, they have but one August victory.
August was supposed to be a barometer for the Giants. After climbing out of the early-mid season casket to put themselves so close to the playoff race that Farhan Zaidi opted against trading two of the best assets on the market, the Giants got to face the Philadelphia Phillies (a team ahead of them in the Wild Card standings), the Colorado Rockies (in Coors Field, where the Giants come to compose their will), the Nationals (a team ahead of them in the Wild Card standings), the Phillies again, and the Oakland Athletics (an honest-to-goodness quality Bay Area baseball team). And then some more hard games.
If that was to be a barometer, then shield your eyes, Giants fans. Things are not going well. Things are not going well at all.
Once more, the Giants got into an early hole. And with their currently feckless offense - they’re averaging just 2.8 runs per game over their last 13 contests - a hole is a death sentence.
For the umpteenth time this year, the Giants fell behind in the first inning. Shaun Anderson didn’t have things working for him quite right, but did well to keep the damage to one run.
The third inning was not so kind, when Anderson once again found himself in trouble, and this time was severely punished for it, when Gerarda Parra hit a three-run jack the other way.
When I defend the recent good play of the Giants, I like to point to the players like Parra (and Yangervis Solarte, Mac Williamson, Connor Joe, Derek Holland, etc.,) who played earlier in the season for the team, didn’t play well, and are subsequently no longer part of the team. It’s my reasoning for why the team can perform better now - because the personnel is better.
I kind of forgot about the whole “but those guys will play elsewhere and punish the Giants” thing. My bad. Really overlooked that one.
Those four runs were enough for it to feel like the game was already over, which, for all intents and purposes, it was.
But Bruce Bochy valiantly wasn’t ready to give up. Unlike on Tuesday, when he left Conner Menez in to eat some innings, Bochy pinch-hit for Anderson in the bottom of the third, cutting the young pitcher’s night short. It was for the best, and if there’s an upside to the Giants performance in the series finale, it’s that the bullpen pitched six scoreless frames, thanks to two innings by Andrew Suarez, and one each by Sam Coonrod, Tony Watson, Williams Jerez, and Reyes Moronta.
Part of that was due to a bittersweet play in which Steven Duggar made a sensational route and diving catch on a bases-loaded line drive. That’s the sweet. The bitter is Duggar immediately grabbing his surgically-repaired left shoulder, and promptly leaving the game.
While the Giants offense deservedly received the bulk of the attention for their fantastic July, an important part of the success was the ability of the young pitchers to stay competitive. Anderson wasn’t great, but was good enough. Tyler Beede was strong. Dereck Rodriguez pitched once, and was brilliant.
Regression has caught up there, as well.
Here’s Anderson’s line from his last three games: 13.0 innings, 19 hits, 7 walks, 9 strikeouts, 11 earned runs.
Here’s Beede’s line from his last three games: 14.1 innings, 28 hits, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts, 13 earned runs.
Here’s the combined lines from Rodriguez and Menez’s recent starts: 9.0 innings, 14 hits, 5 walks, 4 strikeouts, 9 earned runs.
Johnny Cueto can’t get here soon enough. But he also can’t fix three holes in the rotation.
This has been a dreadfully negative recap, and rightfully so. But, let’s pause for a brief moment of something good. After Duggar’s injury, Brandon Belt entered the game, and played left field. He had the best play of the game for the Giants, a slickly played ball off the wall that he turned into a perfectly thrown outfield assist.
Okay, with that out of the way, back to the negativity.
The Giants never got much going offensively this game, but they flirted with productivity.
In the first inning, Mike Yastrzemski doubled with one out. He never made it so far as third. In the fifth inning, Kevin Pillar and Brandon Crawford led off with back-to-back singles. Neither player scored. In the eighth inning, Buster Posey had a two-out single, followed by a double by Evan Longoria that put runners at second and third. Pablo Sandoval struck out.
The team went 0-8 with runners in scoring position, scoring their only run in the ninth inning, when Crawford doubled Pillar home from first base.
Over their last 13 games (of which they’ve won just four), the Giants are 18-101 with runners in scoring position.
Well, that’s depressing. Though if you’re looking for a reason why the team will likely have some positive regression, there you go.