The only note I had of eventfulness was Joey Bart throwing out a runner at third with no outs to help smother a Padresian rally.
Through those seven and a half innings there were just seven hits. They were all singles. There were no runs.
Uneventful and yes, even boring, doesn’t mean bad though. It takes goodness and often greatness to create uneventfulness, so let’s stop to sing the praises of Sean Hjelle, who pitched five of those uneventful innings and struck out eight batters.
Two Hjelle musings. First off, the Giants started the game with John Brebbia before handing the rock to Hjelle in the second.
This has been the case for Hjelle all year. He made eight appearances. None of them were as a starter.
Earlier in the year I understood it. Hjelle didn’t exactly light AAA on fire, so give him a head start. Let an excellent reliever like Brebbia get through the Manny Machados and Juan Sotos of the world before handing the ball to the rookie. When your sole goal is to win games, using an opener for Hjelle is defensible.
But now? Hjelle has been pitching really well. The Giants are eliminated from the playoffs.
I hesitate to criticize teams for their decisions, because the info I use to draw a conclusion is about 0.00109% of the information that the team does, so I’m open to the fact that I’m missing something. But the Giants had nothing to lose by letting Hjelle just start the silly game, and it’s weird that, after making him do the Sacramento shuffle all year, they’re now going to make him wait until 2023 to get his first Major League start. I dunno. Throw the dude a bone! Just because he’s 6’11 doesn’t mean he won’t bend over and take it.
The second thing: Hjelle finished the year with 28 strikeouts in 25 innings. In the Minors this year he had 80 strikeouts in 97 innings. Baseball!
Anyway, Hjelle was the lone highlight as the Giants trundled their way to the bottom of the eighth in a scoreless game.
And then all hell broke loose. Shelby Miller took the mound for the eighth, and while Miller had been unhittable in his first outings with the Giants, he was quite hittable in this one.
Miller ceded back-to-back doubles to start the inning, and suddenly the Padres had the lead. But oh no no that was not it. After an out, Miller gave up three straight walks (one of which was admittedly intentional), and another run came home.
That was all Miller would see, and after striking out 13 of the first 21 batters he faced as a Giant, his ERA suddenly ballooned from donuts to 6.43. I repeat: Baseball!
It ballooned in part because Jarlín García let all three of Miller’s inherited runs score, first on a double and then on a home run, and suddenly the Padres had put up a seven-spot in the inning, and the Giants offense, hopeless and helpless all night, was left to fade away into the night.
Which they didn’t do, of course. Because, if you haven’t already guessed ... baseball!
Tim Hill took the mound for the ninth and looked like he would rather hand-painting Botts’ dots than pitching in the game, and the Giants took advantage. J.D. Davis walked. Joc Pederson walked. Thairo Estrada was hit by a pitch, and suddenly the bases were loaded with no outs.
Brandon Crawford knocked in two with a single. David Villar was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
There were still no outs.
Austin Wynns was retired, but Joey Bart singled in two more runs, putting the tying run in the batter’s box.
Despite eight innings of futility, the Giants had managed to knock the ninth-inning pitcher out of a 7-0 game, and in came Josh Hader, the great-turned-awful-turned-apparently-great-again reliever, and while he hit a third batter as an homage to Hill, he put the Giants away.
Padres win 7-4. Never stop being weird, baseball.