By Dr Lefty
It takes a special kind of awful to out-awful the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies, yet the Giants showed some unique creativity last night. As Bochy put it in his postgame comments, when you give up a three-run homer and a grand slam, it’s hard to win that game. And yet…the Giants could have. They had two early leads. They scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth. They had several other early rallies where they squandered opportunities. But they scored nine runs and lost…and that’s the THIRD time they’ve done so in 2017. An abysmal, inept offense has actually scored nine runs three times and LOST. It’s a special talent, man.
So, OK. Let’s review the villains and heroes of what ended up being both an entertaining and infuriating game.
Villains (Long List)
Second bad start in a row for him, and they’ve looked about the same. While you can’t get too mad at him for serving one up to a red-hot Giancarlo Stanton, there are no passes for Rhys Hoskins, even if he did play for Sac State (Go Hornets!). Blach can’t pitch from behind very well. When he’s on, he doesn’t get behind much, but the last two outings he’s had more trouble with command and then he makes mistakes and gets punished for them. That was a BAD pitch to Hoskins.
Josh Osich and Cory Gearrin
They were both so bad that they each deserve their own subheading, but I don’t have the stomach for it. Osich is just bad, and the Giants need to give up on him. It’s time. Grant Brisbee had some pointed comments about Osich in his postgame piece. Yeah, the stuff. Whatever. The results are awful and we’re almost through two full seasons of awful. Get Okert back, take a look at D.J. Snelten in September, but there must be a new lefty reliever or two (depending on how Smith comes back) in the mix before next season. As for Gearrin, he’s not quite as bad and he’s had some good moments, but that’s two nights in a row he’s come in and allowed every single inherited runner to score, five in total. And he gave up another grand slam, like he did less than three weeks ago–wait, what?! Sorry. That was actually George Kontos, who was gone four days later. Gearrin has now allowed 58% of his inherited runners to score (19/33). That is a freakin’ train wreck. The funny part, of course, is that his own ERA is only 2.19. Hahahahaha. Anyway, Gearrin is into his arbitration years now and is making a bit over $1 million. If they offer him arbitration again, he’ll make more. He’s not worth it. They should move on and look at some younger guys. More on this in a minute.
Blach wasn’t especially “on” last night, but he went into the sixth inning tied, and the go-ahead run wasn’t entirely his fault. More on this in a minute, too. But here comes Bochy with the immediate hook, and his great idea is to bring in Osich and Gearrin to put the game hopelessly (well, not quite) out of reach before the inning was over. He wouldn’t have treated Bum or Cueto or Samardzija that way; he would have let them try to work through the inning just one run down and still have the chance to get off the hook or even get a win (it was the Phillies, and there was a pretty good chance the Giants were going to score more before the game was over). I keep harping on this, but when the Giants offloaded Kontos a couple weeks ago, it was ostensibly so that they could give reps to younger guys in high-leverage situations. Indeed, this is what Bochy said the day Kontos was dump–I mean, traded:
Manager Bruce Bochy said Kontos was a casualty of the Giants’ last-place season. “You look at our situation, there’s some young players who are going to get the chance to show what they can do,” he said. “This goes with the territory of our struggles. We need to find out about some players, see what we need to do this winter.”
Two weeks later, no “young players” have been called up or gotten “the chance to show what they can do.” Kyle Crick has appeared in two games, most recently in a blowout win. As he did when Kontos was still here, Bochy just keeps going to the same guys he trusts, no matter how untrustworthy they have shown themselves to be.
Don’t worry; he’ll also get his moment in the “Heroes” section, too. But it was definitely the best and the worst of times for Span. His misplay of Rupp’s routine fly ball in the sixth opened the floodgates that led to the seven-run deluge. After hitting a clutch two-out RBI single, he promptly was picked off first with Pence up, two on, and two out, killing the rally with the Giants’ hottest hitter at the plate. At the time, the Giants were up 3-1, but you somehow knew all that was going to come back and bite them. Span definitely is still a major league hitter; his OPS of .757 is solid if not spectacular, and his OPS+ is just below league average at 99. But he’s a bad base runner and he’s unbelievably terrible in the outfield. Whatever you may think about advanced stats such as Defensive Runs Saved (Span is at -22, which is by far the worst in the majors), the eye test confirms it.
Now, the fact that Span is an OK hitter, a bad base runner, and a terrible outfielder is not new information. But what really bothered me was his smug complacency about it. He was all happy about his inside-the-park home run (which needs an asterisk) and didn’t care at all that his poor play helped his team lose. I can appreciate, I guess, that when you’re on a really bad team that’s heading nowhere this season, you’d focus just on yourself and your good moments. But being quite so blatant about it is a bit unseemly.
The official scorer
I’m sorry. Inside-the-park home runs are fun, but that should have been scored a triple and an error. The right fielder kicked the ball away from himself and the center fielder. That’s not just a crazy bounce–that’s an outfielder physically making it impossible to make a play. Here’s Schulman’s report on the scorer’s explanation:
Scorer Jim Young: RF missing then kicking ball not a physical misplay because it resulted from an odd carom that eluded him. #SFGiants
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) August 20, 2017
Translation: I’m calling it a home run because I have to watch the Phillies play the Giants and I deserve for something fun to happen. And inside-the-park homers are fun! Here are some of the other recent ones hit by Giants: Kelby Tomlinson in 2015, Aubrey Huff in 2010, Conor Gillaspie in 2011, and, of course, Pagan’s walk-off in 2013.
Heroes (Shorter List)
Did I mention that ITPHRs are fun? And that’s a great way to get the home crowd into the game with a nice, happy jolt. And there was his two-run, two-out single after Eickhoff had loaded the bases for free, including a gritty AB by pitcher Blach. It was looking like a nice night for Denard…and then he got picked off. And then…see “Villains.”
Pablo had a nice game at the plate, his second in a row. His throwing error was largely a function of Not-Belt at first base, and Blach did pitch around that one. Anyway, he and Span were, oddly, the only Giants in the game with two hits, even though they scored nine runs. (The Phillies were generous with walks, a hit batsman, and errors.)
Kelby was on base four times and drove in the tying run in the fourth with a nice opposite field single.
Three innings of mop-up duty, one run allowed, seven strikeouts. If only he’d been the go-to guy when Blach was pulled in the sixth…Albert’s a young guy still (younger than Osich and Gearrin, anyway) who deserves “a chance to show” what he can do, isn’t he, Boch?
Gorkys and Calixte stayed ready and actually contributed to the late-inning rally. Calixte also showed off that slick glove at SS that I’ve seen several times in Sacramento.
Fixing the Bullpen
I know this game upset me because I literally dreamed about it. I dreamed I was watching the game, Span did something bad, and I was mad about it. So I woke up in the middle of the night and started thinking about my blog post. There’s not a whole lot I can do about Span, though if I were in charge, I’d put Parker or Gorkys in CF, stat. But then I thought about how bad the bullpen was (except for Suarez) last night and started doing roster moves in my head to try to get myself back to sleep. Here’s what I came up with.
Who they need to jettison
I already mentioned that Osich and Gearrin need to go. Osich can be optioned. Gearrin–whatever.
Who they need to look at
This list includes players already on the roster who should get more air time and some who should be, either immediately or on September 1.
- Kyle Crick
- Albert Suarez
- Derek Law
- Steven Okert
- Reyes Moronta
- D.J. Snelten
- Tyler Rogers
- option Osich, DFA Gearrin (or trade him for nothing like Kontos if anyone wants him)
- call up Okert and Law immediately (both on the 40-man)
- on Sept 1, call up Moronta (already on the 40-man)
- add Snelten and Rogers to the 40-man and call them up Sept. 1 when rosters can expand
- shut down Melancon for the season and put him on the 60-day DL (there’s one 40-man spot)
- put Chase Johnson on the 60-day DL (there’s your other 40-man spot)
Now, I’m not saying that all/most/any of these bullpen guys are going to pan out for the future. But I don’t see the harm in trying something new at this point. And don’t worry: If they want to call up Shaw or Andrew Suarez, there are still 40-man moves that can be made (e.g., put Morse on the 60-day DL; put Arroyo on the 60-day DL, etc.).
Bumgarner goes for the season series win vs. the Phillies (the two teams are 3-3 in the Futility World Series, and we know Bum likes Game 7). In honor of the tens of thousands who came together, mostly peacefully, in Boston yesterday, I’ll take us out with an early 60s folk duo, Joe and Eddie, from their 1964 album Coast to Coast. Lefty out.