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Giants take lead, squander lead, lose

The Rockies beat the Giants 5-3, despite a three-run first inning for San Francisco.

Brandon Crawford standing on second base as Elehuris Montero slides in Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Tuesday’s game started ominously.

The very first hitter of the game, Colorado Rockies designated hitter Connor Joe — who we will always remember as the player the San Francisco Giants picked up, made you think could be a diamond in the rough, designated for assignment after 16 plate appearances, and then watched become said diamond in said rough elsewhere — hit a home run.

A home run that cleared the fence rather easily, but still required replay review.

There’s a funny thing about leadoff home runs. All of them either are the start of a victory for the team hitting them, which breeds the narrative that they set the tone (if you’re a fan of that team) or, umm .... negatively set the tone (if you’re a fan of the other team), or are the start of a loss for the team hitting them, which breeds the narrative that they gave you false hope (if you’re a fan of that team), or gave you a slight scare (if you’re a fan of the other team).

You’re a fan of the other team in this scenario, so that ominous start was, you hoped, just a brief scare.

And when, three batters into the bottom half of that very same initial inning Wilmer Flores did this, you felt fairly confident that your hope was prophecy.

And when the Giants added a third run a few batters later, thanks to the small ball trio of a Joc Pederson single, an Evan Longoria walk, and a Luis González single, you felt even more confident.

They led 3-1. Carlos Rodón was on the mound. The Rockies entered the game with the 10th-worst offense in the league, per wRC+. The game was at Oracle Park, which is the opposite of Coors Field, which is to say a place where baseballs come to die a pitiful death, rather than flourish. It’s like the big yard in the sky, but for baseballs.

And so you were confident.

But, as some great philosopher once posited, confidence is the enemy of baseball fans.

And so it was that Rodón, despite limiting the damage to just one more run (which cut the lead to 3-2), only made it through four innings. He labored and labored, displaying a magic trick or three to escape jams, but still needed 98 pitches just to get through those four innings.

The culprit? An inability to pitch well enough to avoid contact, but an equal inability to pitch poorly enough to allow good contact.

Rodón threw 98 pitches and 33 of them were foul balls. 33 of them!

He threw 33 pitches that resulted in fouls, and only 36 other pitches that were classified as strikes — which is to say, called strikes, swinging strikes, and balls in play.

That’s quite a hefty dose, isn’t it?

For a hot minute the Giants looked like they would survive. John Brebbia pitched a stress-free fifth inning. Zack Littell got into some trouble in the sixth, but when the Rockies pinch hit with Charlie Blackmon, the Giants responded with José Álvarez, who hadn’t allowed a home run to a left-handed hitter since 2019.

Four pitchers later, Blackmon did the following. Viewer discretion is advised.

The wind may have been swirling at Oracle Park, but it was absent from the Giants sails. They still had four innings left to get two runs back, but mustered only a single and a walk. They didn’t have a runner reach scoring position. They struck out seven times.

It was, in a word, feckless. In two, very feckless. In three, oh so feckless.

And so they lost, 5-3. As feckless teams tend to do.