What a difference a game makes.
The San Francisco Giants 10-game road trip is mercifully over. A 5-1 loss to the Houston Astros officially closed the book on the longest and hardest and hopefully worst road trip of the year, sending the Giants on a flight back to the Bay Area, which they’ll spend watching YouTube cooking videos and contemplating a 3-7 road trip.
They could have won on Wednesday. I don’t say that to suggest that it was a close game that could have gone their way. I say that in the blandest, most literal since, that they could have won, the way any MLB team can win any given game against any other MLB team.
Such a win would have left them 4-6 on the road trip (sorry to hurt your eyes with such intense mathematical equations). Now 4-6 isn’t a great record, but for a 10-game road set with stops at two of the best teams in the sport, plus a visit to a ballpark that makes you want to pull all the hairs off your arm one by one? Totally acceptable. We would’ve been happy with 4-6. Not celebratory, but certainly happy.
But 3-7 is ugly. It’s vile. It’s something you’d rather not look at. 3-7 is that jar of something that you pull out of the fridge and, after crumpling your face up, put it back in the fridge but at the very back, hidden behind the Worcestershire sauce. Should you throw it away? Yes. Are you willing to confront it directly today? No.
That’s a problem for future you.
And with a day off on Thursday, the Giants going 3-7 is a problem for future them. But it’s definitely a problem.
The Giants got off to a good start in the game. Mike Yastrzemski — who had been struggling with the bat this week, though still drawing lots of walks — led the game off with a triple.
He's going the distance. He's going for speed.— SFGiants (@SFGiants) August 12, 2020
@mikeyaz18 | #SFGiants pic.twitter.com/dImETf8eIg
The next batter, Alex Dickerson, knocked Yastrzemski in with a single. We were five pitches into the game and the Giants already led.
What could possibly go wrong?
Never ask that question. Never ask that question.
The Giants may have scored once on five pitches, but they wouldn’t score again on the next 128.
They’d get just close enough to frustrate you — they went 0-7 with runners in scoring position after Dickerson’s knock — but not close enough to make you feel like they were competent offensively. Sometimes a team scores only one run but you think, “Wow, what a good offense that unfortunately had horrible sequencing today.” This was not one of those times.
Zack Greinke was quick to point that out to the Giants. The Astros starter went full big brother on the Giants hitters — not in the 1984 sense of the phrase, but in the sibling sense. He literally told the Giants what pitches he was going to throw, spending chunks of time calling his own game by holding up his fingers to the catcher, instead of the other way around.
Mauricio Dubón had perhaps the ugliest swing of the year for the Giants — and it came after Greinke literally told him what was coming.
Oops, sorry, wrong video.
Zack Greinke, Calling his own pitch/Filthy Slider. pic.twitter.com/CzCyQ48H6T— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 13, 2020
At one point, with runners on first and second, Greinke informed the entire field what the pitch coding was — “second one after two.”
And still the Giants were helpless. He gave up 7 hits in 6.1 innings, but most of them were of the dink and dunk variety. There was limited hard contact, and Greinke seemed to just be playing around, soft tossing his breaking ball in the 60s, looking utterly unfazed, and happily engaging in a game of cat and mouse. It almost felt like the hits he allowed were on purpose.
On the other side of things, Trevor Cahill made his Giants debut and it wasn’t so hot. He avoided damage, but failed to make it out of the second inning, throwing 25 balls to just 30 strikes, and walking 4 of the 9 batters he faced. But, on the bright side...
Trevor Cahill is the first starting pitcher in franchise history to not allow a hit in his Giants debut.— Grant Brisbee (@GrantBrisbee) August 13, 2020
You can't take that away from him.
The other Giant called up on Wednesday, Dereck Rodríguez, also got into the game. He looked a bit better than a year ago, with his fastball touching 95, but also struggled with walks, giving up 2 free passes (and 3 hits) in 2.1 innings.
The Giants somehow managed to keep the Astros at bay until Houston finally tied the game in the fifth, and went ahead with a four-run sixth.
There would be no comeback this time.