A pivotal moment of Tuesday night’s game was when Andrew Suárez escaped a bases-loaded, nobody out jam. The score was 5-0 at the time, but in hindsight, he had no room for error as the Pirates shrank the lead to just one run in the top of the eighth. As far as I can tell, this was the first time a Giants pitcher had escaped a bases loaded, no out situation since Tony Watson bailed out Reyes Moronta in the 11th game of the losing streak last September.
For once, the Giants got to the ones escaping from rather because we all know that if the offense ever loads the bases with nobody, it’s a death knell. Run expectancy matrices will tell you that a team should expect around 2.2 runs in that circumstance, but that’s not the case for the Giants. The bats always find some way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. A strikeout followed by a double play is a classic combination though they like to mix things up with an at ‘em ball or a fly ball not deep enough for a sacrifice.
There have been five instances this year where the Giants offense loaded the bases before recording an out and failed to score even one lousy run. I just said that Suárez was the first pitcher to escape such a jam. Clearly, the Giants are extremely inept when it comes to scoring on an empty net.
Except that’s not actually true. I was shocked to learn that the offense has created three times as many bases loaded, no out situations as the pitching staff this year. The bats have done it 24 times in 22 different games. The pitchers have allowed it just seven times.
Only two offenses have created more of these opportunities: the Angels and the Royals. Judging from the teams at the top, this particular category might not tell much about the quality of the offense, but it does highlight just how many opportunities the Giants have to screw up. Give any team enough chances and they’ll get their foot stuck in a bucket every once in a while. The Giants have done it five times out of 24 tries and in one of those screw-ups, the Giants had already scored two runs in the inning.
The Giants are also perfectly average at converting these chances into runs. They’re 8-for-24 with three grand slams, so they’ve achieved the best possible outcome nearly as many times as they’ve gotten the worst possible outcome. Their .333 batting average ranks 14th in the majors. The times they didn’t get a base hit, they either had a productive out or at least one of the next two batters got a hit 11 out of 16 times.
If you want a really dismal team with the bases loaded, nobody out, look to the Brewers who are 1-for-15 and have hit into three double plays where a runner is thrown out at home.
The Giants, as it turns out, are surprisingly good with the bases loaded and nobody out. Does this mean we have to retire jokes about it? No. Of course not. We still use the “avoid the sweep” joke even though Grant found that the Giants were outstanding at completing series sweeps between 2015 and 2017. Every time the Giants load the bases, we can still tweet out, “oh no,” even if it’s much more likely than not that something good will happen.