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.”
In the fourth inning, Dansby Swanson stepped into the batter’s box against Drew Smyly, with the bases loaded and two outs. The Atlanta Braves led the San Francisco Giants 2-0, and there were myriad reasons to think the game could hang on this at-bat.
The Giants still had 18 outs to play with, so a 2-0 deficit is nothing insurmountable, even for an offensively challenged team. But even a single by Swanson would make it a 4-0 game, and against an All-Star in Mike Soroka — who had set down the lineup in order the first time through — that would feel like an insurmountable deficit.
In hindsight, perhaps Smyly should have been taken out of the game. He clearly didn’t have it on this Saturday, and it was a pivotal point in the game. But you can see why Gabe Kapler left him in. The game was still early, the bullpen wasn’t super fresh, Swanson isn’t a great hitter, and Smyly had just worked a bases loaded strikeout to get to two outs. Now he just needed an out. Any kind of out.
He did not get an out. He did not get any kind of out.
Swanson worked the count full, and forced Smyly to come into the strike zone. Smyly, knowing that a pitch outside the zone would likely mean the end of his day, came into the strike zone. Boy did he ever come into the strike zone. Right into it. Bullseye. Nailed the strike zone right through the heart. No doubt about the strike zoneness of that pitch.
T-ball location is something Swanson has been hitting ever since . . . well . . . T-ball . . . and he was prepared to absolutely blister and launch the ball into the half-empty left field bleachers. 6-0. Ball game.
Sidebar: No fewer than three times so far in this article, I’ve written “Swanson” as “Swansby.” It is way too easy to combine that dude’s first and last names.
Anyway, that was that. Soroka didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning, and didn’t allow a run until five days from now. He went seven innings, and then the Braves’ bullpen took advantage of a low pressure situation and shut the Giants down.
8-0 was the loss. I mean . . . if you’re gonna lose, you might as well really lose, right? I’m reminded of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Barons teammate in “Space Jam” telling him, “That was a strikeout Mike, that was a good-looking strikeout.”
The Giants are now 20-26, and officially not very fun to watch. They’ll try and avoid the sweep tomorrow.