With the MLB season suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, there are no baseball games and limited baseball news. So I’m creating a hypothetical season — complete with news and recaps — until baseball resumes. All news and recaps will have the hypothetical tag, so you can at least know when you’re suspending reality. And you can click “hypothetical season” above the headline to see everything that has happened in this “season.”
Happy Sunday, and happy Passover and/or Easter to any and all who are celebrating.
The San Francisco Giants were generous on this holiday, gifting their fans with five extra innings of baseball. The San Diego Padres were even more generous, matching the Giants donation but also throwing in a win on top.
Don’t let the 4-2, 14-inning loss fool you. This was a really fun baseball game, especially if you can distance yourself from the outcome. There are 146 more of these, so I highly recommend you at least try to do that.
For the bulk of the game, we were treated to a pitching battle between Drew Smyly and Chris Paddack.
You remember Paddack. You remember him because he made his MLB debut last year, on March 31, against the Giants.
You remember him because you thought, “Oh great, here’s another guy making his debut against the Giants, don’t expect to score any runs.”
You remember him because you were mostly right. Paddack only pitched 5 innings, but allowed just 2 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run, while striking out 7, and you thought “oh no, here we go, get used to this guy”
Paddack was the #4 prospect in the Padres quite-nice farm at the time, and now he’s the #1 starter, anchoring the rotation of a team with highly legitimate postseason aspirations.
He made two more starts against the Giants last year, finishing the season with this stat line against your beloved team: 17 innings, 13 hits, 2 walks, 5 earned runs, 21 strikeouts.
So, after that painful detour, we arrive at Sunday’s series finale, where we all assumed Paddack would dominate the Giants, per the usual.
The good news is that we’re all very, very smart people.
Paddack did indeed dominate. He went 7 strong innings, and likely would have gone more had the game not been tied and his spot up in the bottom half of the seventh.
He gave up just 2 hits and 1 walk, though one of the hits was a Brandon Belt solo home run. He struck out 11.
Newsflash: The Giants strike out a lot.
But if you like pitching, watching the Giants flail at pitches over and over was offset by Smyly’s strong performance. Smyly kept the Padres off balance all day, and matched the important parts of Paddack’s line: 7 innings, 1 run. The details weren’t quite as impressive — 5 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts — but it was a mighty fine performance, and a joy to watch.
So we started over in the eighth inning, tied 1-1. A one-out double by Manny Machado, followed by a single from Fernando Tatis Jr. put the Padres on top. But the saving grace for the Giants was that Paddack was no longer in the game.
But perhaps the Giants had an even bigger problem on their hands: Kirby Yates.
Yates awaited them in the ninth, and the broadcast kindly reminded you that the Giants hadn’t scored a run off of him since April 29, 2017 — he’d made 17 consecutive scoreless appearances against San Francisco.
You expected an 18th. I expected an 18th. We all expected an 18th.
But Alex Dickerson led off the inning with a line drive right over first base, and the Giants had a lead-off double. A productive groundout from Buster Posey and a deep-enough fly ball from Belt later, and the Giants had miraculously scored a run to tie the game.
To extra innings we went. Free baseball.
The Padres inning-eaters were excellent, but so were the Giants, who relied on Trevor Oaks and Trevor Cahill.
And then came the 14th inning, when the Padres ridiculous heart of the lineup struck again. This time it was a leadoff single from Machado, followed by a towering two-run walk-off blast by Tatis.
The game was fun, but the game was over, and the game was lost.
The Giants are now 6-10.
It turns out you can’t win them all. Or even most of them.