The San Francisco Giants home opener was a dud. A flop. A sad trombone.
It happens and it means nothing. They play 81 games at Oracle Park. The first is only meaningful in the sentimental sense.
But it was a bust. A bust because the fans showed up for the home opener and the Giants rewarded them with a flop of a 3-1 loss to the mediocre-on-a-great-day Kansas City Royals. But more importantly, a bust because the Giants have fully committed to booming or busting, and have decided to alternate on a game-by-game basis between the two. Friday, being an odd game, was a bust.
Game 1: 4 hits, 0 home runs, 5-0 loss
Game 2: 12 hits, 2 home runs, 7-5 win
Game 3: 3 hits, 0 home runs, 6-0 loss
Game 4: 14 hits, 7 home runs, 12-3 win
Game 5: 4 hits, 1 home run, 7-3 loss
Game 6: 20 hits, 5 home runs, 16-6 win
Game 7: 5 hits, 0 home runs, 3-1 loss
In their three wins, the Giants are averaging 15.3 hits, 4.7 home runs, and 11.7 runs. In their four losses, the Giants are averaging 4.0 hits, 0.3 home runs, and 1.0 runs.
“Team plays better in wins” isn’t exactly a headline that anyone needs. But this disparity is outrageous.
It will even out, to an extent. But the Giants are also set up this way. They will swing for the fences. On the days when it works out, it will look gorgeous. On the days that it doesn’t, their offense will have all the grace and joy of a root canal.
On Friday it didn’t. The offense couldn’t get off the ground, even if the strikeouts were relatively low, with just eight. The run they did score, which tied the game in the second, came on a single, an infield single, a runner-advancing double play, and a single that would have been a routine out if the Giants were playing under last year’s rules.
The offensive ineptitude harshed the mellow of one of the best starts of the season for the Giants, a seven-inning display of excellence from Alex Cobb. Cobb allowed a hit per inning with no walks, and struck out six.
A year ago, Cobb was done in by the bad luck of pitching in front of one of the worst defenses you’ll ever have the displeasure of watching. And on Friday he was done in by the bad luck of people hitting the ball where other people were not. The first of the two runs he allowed was the result of back-to-back-to-back singles, with expected batting averages of .480, .290, and .120, respectively. Harsh.
The second of the two runs was a home run. Tip your cap.
The Giants boom or bust mentality has meant they’ve been involved in barely any close games, so their setup-reliever combo of Taylor Rogers and Camilo Doval hadn’t pitched since Saturday. Was it that rust that led to Rogers giving up a solo home run to Salvador Pérez?
Who knows, but that lone insurance run proved critical. Joc Pederson led off the ninth inning with the only extra-base hit of the game for San Francisco, a triple that slammed off the bricks. The Giants never brought him home, but if he had represented the tying run, instead of just a dude standing on third while the tying run was elsewhere, it’s safe to say their approach might have been different.
As it was, Joc never got to leave third. It wasn’t entirely the Giants fault. The first out of the inning came when Mike Yastrzemski had the audacity to not swing at a pitch three inches off the plate.
Their second out came when Thairo Estrada hit a line drive with a .500 expected batting average that double agent Matt Duffy laid out to catch.
The Giants lead the Majors in home runs. And maybe if they peppered them over seven games, instead of over three, they’d have a winning record.
But until they learn to do that, and in the absence of understanding any other way to score, they’ll be a boom or bust team.
Friday was a bust.