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.”
The San Francisco Giants have a habit of acquiring players that I really liked, when they’re well past their prime, and thus slapping me across the face with the reminder that my favorite players aren’t as good as I think of them as being.
Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, while very nice players, are prime examples. I was infatuated with both players while they were winning MVPs with other teams. I wanted them to be Giants. Then they were Giants, and I had to realize they’re not as good as the iterations that I fell for and still had positive associations with.
So what happened on Friday night when the Giants returned home to host the Chicago White Sox was oddly comforting, because it was almost like the opposite. Let me explain.
I’ve always loved Gio González. I thought he was a tremendous and fun pitcher, even when there were warning signs, like in 2017 when he accrued 6.5 rWAR while also leading the league in walks.
I still really liked him, and wanted the Giants to find a way to get him. They didn’t, though there’s still an open spot on the 2024 roster that has his name on it.
Anyway, González hasn’t been good for a while now. He struggled the last two years, both with performance and injury. He’s had a rough start to 2020, his first with the White Sox.
And he had a rough start on Friday against the generally feckless Giants offense.
None of this brings me joy. Wait, that’s a lie. The struggling against the Giants absolutely brings me joy. The rest? Not at all. I don’t want to see him struggling.
But it is a nice change of pace to have a player I irrationally like struggle against the Giants, rather than for them. I’ll take it.
González was strong the first time through the order. He didn’t allow a hit in the first three innings, and while he did walk two batters, he still faced the minimum, as he worked a double play and Hunter Pence was thrown out trying to steal second.
But the Giants broke through with a two-run fourth inning, which featured RBI singles from Pence and Buster Posey. And they added three more runs in the fifth, on an RBI double from Darin Ruf, and a two-run homer from Austin Slater that knocked González out of the game.
The White Sox offense tried to keep pace, and, to his credit, Logan Webb almost allowed them to. They scored a run in the second, third, and fourth innings, but Webb had a shutdown fifth, which paved the way for the Giants to take a lead that they wouldn’t give up. Each team put two more runs on each other’s bullpens, leading to a 7-5 Giants win.
Winning shootouts probably isn’t a very sustainable course of action for the Giants, but then again, I don’t think any way of earning wins is for this team. We’ll take them, wherever and however they come.
They’re now 17-21, which isn’t going to burn up the phone lines with people looking for postseason tickets, but it’s preferable to a lot of other records they could have right now. I’ll take it. You’ll take it. We’ll all take it.