You don’t win many baseball games when you only collect two extra-base hits. Don’t get mad at me. I’m just the messenger, and them’s the rules.
You don’t win many games that way, but you do win some. There are always exceptions.
This was not the exception that you’re looking for.
The game was not particularly good if you’re a San Francisco Giants fan, but that doesn’t mean it was completely devoid of good. There were some moments, mainly those aforementioned extra-base hits.
They both came off the bat of Mauricio Dubón, and they were both memorable.
In the top of the fifth, Dubón ripped a rocket of a double down the line. It was the first extra-base hit of his career. To that point, the Giants had done virtually nothing against Adam Wainwright, making the hit that much more impressive.
Then in the eighth, with the Giants still trailing 3-0 but Wainwright finally out of the game, Dubón sent a ball over the fence for his first career home run, and his first RBI.
There were a few nincompoops on Twitter earlier in the week complaining about Dubón getting playing time after he had the audacity to start his Giants tenure by going just 1-6. So this was a fun display of how quickly things can turn around early in a player’s career.
In one day, Dubón went from a career slash line of .167/.167/.167 to .267/.267/.533. He raised his wRC+ from -15 to 103.
He also continued to his trend of making very nice defensive plays, which means I’m contractually obligated to remind you that the Giants got him - and his many, many years of team control - for the price of Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but there’s a very real chance we look back on this trade in a few years and view it as one of the very best in recent memory.
Okay, there’s only so many hundreds of words I can write about a 3-1 loss before I get to the bad stuff. So let’s get there.
Tyler Beede continued his trend of getting entirely roughed up by first innings. He allowed three hits - including a triple - and a walk in the first, spotting the St. Louis Cardinals a 2-0 lead. It gave Beede a clean 18 earned runs in 18 innings.
Now he hasn’t been great the rest of the games, either, as his non-first inning ERA is just 4.83. But that’s a good bit better than his 9.00 first inning ERA.
He settled down after that first, but it simply wasn’t a good game for Beede, who gave up five hits, one walk, and three earned runs in four innings. Beede’s season has been a compromise between electric stuff and highly hittable baseballs, and today he didn’t have the former.
The spectacular secondary pitches were nowhere to be found, as Beede got a mere four swings and misses all night, and struck out just two of the 18 batters he faced.
It just wasn’t his game.
With rosters expanding, the Giants had two more debuts. Reliever Kyle Barraclough - activated on Monday to replace the injured Reyes Moronta - made his Giants debut in the seventh inning. He gave up a double and a walk, but struck out two and kept the Cardinals off the board, something the Giants bullpen did for all four innings they pitched.
And in the eighth, Chris Shaw made his season debut for the Giants. He ultimately struck out - something he’s always done a lot - but it was an improved strikeout, if I’m allowed to find optimism in a strikeout. In years past, we’ve seen Shaw hack right through pitches, striking out as quickly as is possible.
This year the new front office tasked him with modernizing his hitting approach, and he’s answered the call. He still strikes out a lot, but he’s putting up more of a fight, drawing more walks, and K’ing a little less.
Last year in AAA, Shaw struck out in a whopping 34.1% of his plate appearances, while walking in just 5.0% of them. This year, across AA and AAA, his strikeout rate is down to 22.6%, while his walk rate is up to 7.9%.
So it felt a little different when Shaw fouled off three pitches, took a hard 1-2 pitch, and forced seven pitches out of a strong reliever, even if the end result was the same.
Ultimately, however, when one of the bright spots in a game is a player putting up a battle before striking out, it’s usually a good sign that the team lost.
And the Giants most definitely lost.