When the season first started, I made a list of questions the San Francisco Giants would have to answer in their quest to repeat their status as a baseball team that is very good.
I don’t remember the questions specifically, but I’m pretty sure it was basically these five:
- Would they be able to make up for the the production lost by Buster Posey’s retirement and Kris Bryant leaving?
- Would their veterans like Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford be able to maintain their career paces from the year prior?
- Could Carlos Rodón stay healthy?
- Would Joey Bart be ready to be an everyday catcher?
- Can they solve the problem that is Graham Ashcraft?
I’m not going to comment on the first four, because those are articles for other days. But I will comment on the fifth one.
My comment is this: what gives, Giants?
Ashcraft made his MLB debut on May 22, and on May 29 he was pitching 6.1 scoreless innings against the Giants in a 5-1 win for the Cincinnati Reds. And now, a month later, in his seventh professional start, he one-upped himself, pitching eight strong innings, allowing just two Giants runs, and striking out eight (side note: he had just 19 strikeouts in 33.1 innings entering the game).
The Giants do not, it turns out, have an answer for Cincinnati’s B-level prospect in his rookie year. Just as I worried all along.
Ashcraft lined them up and set them down for the bulk of the night. On the rare occasion that the Giants challenged him, they immediately shot themselves in the foot.
Only a solo blast by Evan Longoria really gave the illusion of understanding how to hit the youngster.
In the eighth inning, trailing 4-1, the Giants tried their darndest to make things interesting, and also did their darndest to get in their own way. Wilmer Flores and Curt Casali singled to kick off the inning, and somehow Ashcraft stayed in.
Then Tommy La Stella hit into a double play, and you remember why.
A Mike Yastrzemski bloop would bring home a second run, but Darin Ruf’s fly ball — hit 99.1 mph with a 27-degree launch angle — would go to that special place that the Giants constructed for baseballs to die.
I found myself not caring.
Not caring that Ruf’s fly ball fell short, as Joc Pederson’s did an inning later. Not caring that Alex Cobb once again got unlucky, but also didn’t pitch very well. Not caring that San Francisco faced a former Giant that the fans love (Donovan Solano), a former Giant that the fans do not like (Hunter Strickland), and a former Giant that the fans are very indifferent about (Aramis Garcia).
You know why. This isn’t the first time this year that I’ve posted a recap on a day when baseball didn’t feel even remotely important, and, at the rate we’re going, it won’t be the last time.
I don’t care that the Giants lost 4-2. Sports can be a great distraction (I went golfing today, just to try and get my mind on something else), and I hope they offered you that today, even with the loss.
But it’s just a loss. And it’s just a baseball game. And as we mourn a disastrous and tragic attack on reproductive rights for folx across the country, I simply do not care about what the Giants did or did not do.
Tomorrow’s a new day. For you, for me, for the Giants, for the country. Let’s fight to make it a better one.