In the bottom of the first inning of the first game of a doubleheader on Thursday, Mike Yastrzemski led off with a single. The next batter, Wilmer Flores, crushed a fly ball into triple’s alley.
You suddenly had visions of the last time the San Francisco Giants faced Clayton Kershaw, when they shockingly hung three home runs and a handful of other hard hits on the Los Angeles Dodgers ace. It might happen again, you hoped.
Flores’ deep fly had an expected batting average of .820, but the Dodgers employ two outfielders who have won awards for supposedly being of the most value at this silly game, and one of them, Cody Bellinger, somehow made a catch.
In the second inning, Donovan Solano led off with a double. The next batter, Brandon Belt, has historically struggled horrendously against Kershaw, but has been hitting the ball like he’s playing a video game as of late.
He crushed one into center field, and you thought the time had finally come. It carried an expected batting average of .800 before, like Flores’ out before him, calmly finding the warm embrace of a leather mitt.
It was at this point that you realized one of two things had to be true:
1. The Giants were hitting Kershaw hard, and would eventually break through.
2. Kershaw is a historically great pitcher and if you don’t capitalize on the tiny opportunities given to you, you will fail.
The optimist in you — the one that watched the Giants win their seventh game in a row on Tuesday by mounting four comebacks — thought the first one was true.
But come on. You knew. You absolutely knew. We all knew.
I tweeted this at the time:
Might've been an out, but that was one of Brandon Belt's best career plate appearances against Kershaw.— McCovey Chronicles (@McCoveyChron) August 27, 2020
Giants are making hard contact.
Now if you print that out, pour urine on it, and let it dry, it will reveal the rest of the tweet: “they are so doomed.”
And yes, they were.
The Giants did themselves no favors, but they lost in the fourth inning, which was one of those silly and stupid innings that makes you realize just how hard it is to win seven games in a row in the first place, because it absolutely should not have been the catastrophe that it was.
Here’s how that inning went:
- A.J. Pollock walk
- Max Muncy fielder’s choice on a ball hit too slowly to turn a double play on
- Chris Taylor infield single on a 59.4 mph hit
- Joc Pederson infield single on a hit with a .040 expected batting average
- Austin Barnes double
- Mookie Betts groundout
- Corey Seager infield single on a 48.5 mph hit with a .110 expected batting average
- Justin Turner lineout
Just like that, four runs, and the game was firmly out of reach for the Giants.
Thankfully Especially since there were only seven innings.
A few notes:
- Kershaw gave Joey Bart the rudest, most offensive “Welcome to the big leagues, noob” introduction I can ever recall seeing. He struck him out on three pitches the first time, and then struck him out on three pitches the second and final time. That doesn’t really do it justice. The pitches were rude. It reminded me of this moment from WNBA legends Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi:
“Every time you played rookies, you just wanted to fucking kill them.” - Diana Taurasi pic.twitter.com/rqNgI8FjdN— Matt Ellentuck (@mellentuck) May 4, 2020
Bart finished the day having seen 10 pitches and striking out 3 times, with 5 swinging strikes. One ball was all that saved him from getting immaculate inninged all by himself.
He’ll be fine. But ouch.
- Yastrzemski made a catch:
Oh yeah. That’s the good stuff.
The game? Not so much.