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Bullpen not perfect, Giants lose to Angels, 4-1

It’s all part of the plan.

MLB: AUG 07 Giants at Angels Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants will only go as far as their pitching will take them. That’s the team’s grand design.

You might not like the team’s inactivity at the trade deadline, but it’s clear the choice was made to hold onto prospect inventory, hope a few guys in the lineup get hot, and the pitching continues to perform as it has since May 1st.

The Giants lost 4-1 thanks to a 4-run 6th inning, the capper being a 3-run home run off the bat of Mike Moustakas. It came against Tristan Beck, a guy who had pitched so well that he’d effectively pitched himself out of the rotation and into a late inning fireman.

Tonight, he was the arsonist.

His prior seven appearances were incredible: 15.2 IP, 12-3 K-BB, 0.57 ERA and 2.31 FIP. Two appearances ago he shutdown the Diamondbacks for 4 innings and in his appearance prior, he made it look really easy shutting down the then-#5 offense in Baseball, the Boston Red Sox in extra innings.

I know the 2-5 innings as “the Headliner” or “Bulk Guy” sort of steps on my idea that he pitched himself out of a starting role, but go with me. Here he was coming in to follow Sean Manaea, whose own headlining appearance from innings 2-5 were great, nearly as impressive as what Beck did against Arizona; so, I think it’s clear the Giants don’t want him “starting” traditionally or otherwise — they really just want him to be able to pitch wherever.

That’s what happened with Ryan Walker, who struggled with the opener role for a bit after John Brebbia hit the IL, but has really settled in. He got into some trouble in the 1st inning tonight with what looked like a phantom hit by pitch of Luis Rengifo to lead off the game and eventually, a double by eventual hero Mike Moustakas put runners at second and third with two outs. But he struck out C.J. Cron to get out of the mini jam for his third strikeout of the inning.

One of the other strikeouts was against Shohei Ohtani, and if you had Ryan Walker and Sean Manaea striking out Shohei Ohtani in the same game, you’re a savant. And if you hadn’t watched the game and only heard about those strikeouts, then you might’ve concluded that Ohtani went on to hit game-winning home run to balance things out. But that was not to be, and for the 11th game in the Giants-Ohtani matchup history, he did not hit a home run against them. They’re the only team he’s faced that he hasn’t homered against, a streak that can only last if he signs with them as a free agent in the offseason.

I’m not sure the Giants helped their cause, but they didn’t totally embarrass themselves, either. They certainly made the case that they could use his bat. Last night, the Giants’ offense had 5 total bases. Tonight? 6. They had 6 walks, too, and that’s what made it all so excruciating. 10 left on base. Thairo Estrada alone left 3 in scoring position with his 98 mph hot shot to third base being the game-ender.

It’s another flop and a real shame, too, because Ohtani looked like someone who they could get to; per Statcast, he was at least 1 mph below his averages on every pitch in his arsenal. Even Luis Matos and Patrick Bailey had long at bats. He threw 32 pitches in the 2nd inning. His spin rates on all his non-fastballs were also way down — but that’s why he’s the best! In two career starts against the Giants, he’s pitched 6 innings and allowed 1 run (tonight’s being unearned).

The Giants also committed errors in all three games and while I don’t think tonight’s error by Joc Pederson made all the difference — allowing the extra 90 base to two runners sure didn’t help when Beck faced Moustakas. When the lineup couldn’t cash in on their opportunities or even generate new ones, they biffed it in the field and increased the level of difficulty for the pitching staff.

They deserved better.

On my way to searching for a replay of Manaea standing in the way of a line drive in the 3rd, I found this great fan video of his strikeout of Ohtani in the 3rd:

A wild fastball up and in setting up a fastball right down the middle? Incredible stuff.

This will be how it goes the rest of the season. The pitching simply has no margin for error.