Greek Giant

Yesterday’s Game

I’m not sure what the worst thing was about yesterday’s 5-3 loss in St. Louis to the Cardinals that meant the Giants were swept in the three-game series and lost their fifth game in a row. My pick would be Brandon Crawford’s RBI double to make the game 5-3 after the Giants made things interesting with a run in the seventh inning and two runs in the eighth. Under normal circumstances this would be your standard issue 5-3 loss but this was no normal game.

Cardinals starter Sonny Gray used his superb curveball (Please don’t call it a “sweeper”) to pitch a perfect game until, with two outs in the top of the seventh inning when Patrick Bailey took one of those curves and deposited it deep into the right field seats down the line. Just like that the perfect game was over and the Giants suddenly had life, making it 4-1.

Gray retired the next batter and received a well-deserved standing ovation by the hometown Cardinal fans, who did not exactly fill their stadium (I’ll get to that in a moment). Then, in the top of the eighth inning Cardinals Manager Oliver Marmol, in a case of Managerial Malfeasance (unless he knew something I did not know about Gray’s condition) brought in Jo Jo Romero to relieve a pitcher who was, A. pitching a perfect game into the seventh inning, and B. had only thrown eighty pitches. Why on Earth Gray was pulled I will never understand but thanks to that decision the Giants fought back to make a game of it. It did not end well for the Giants after all but you get my point.

For further evidence of over-managing and over-reliance on the bullpen I point you to game 2 of the 2014 NLDS between the Giants and the Nationals or Game six of the 2020 World Series between the Dodgers and the Rays. In both cases the Managers had pitchers who were dominant and were an inning or two away and made hasty bullpen moves and ended up losing their respective games in the process. In each of these cases the games were in the postseason and their teams never recovered.

But back to yesterday’s game!

In addition to Sonny Gray pitching one of the best games of his life and making the Giants look like a High School team in the process (See Heliot Ramos’s at bats), Logan Webb did not pitch well. The day started badly, with the Giants Ace and the Giants in desperate need of a win, giving up three runs in the bottom of the third and one run in the bottom of the second to put the boys from San Francisco in an early hole form which they would never emerge. The Cardinals had some great at bats against Webb and pursued a perfect strategy against him in going to the opposite field. Those opposite field doubles and singles were major factors in the early four-run lead. Altogether Webb persevered enough to go six innings and give the Giants relief corps some rest. His outing ended up being far from a total disaster as he would not give up any more runs after the second but the Giants needed better from their Ace against a Cardinals team that is at best, mediocre. They did not get it.

Going back to the attendance at the game yesterday in St. Louis it seems the Cardinals fans are tired of the their team’s lackluster play and over-analyticsized baseball philosophy. They are showing it by not showing up to the park. The attendance yesterday was listed as 37,892 but that’s utter nonsense. There were no more than 25,000 fans in the actual game. It’s a sign that in one of the most devoted fan bases with their team surging after a rough two months of the season on a beautiful and hot Sunday afternoon with their ace pitching could not get a more enthusiastic number of butts in the seats. Baseball is in trouble, not only in St. Louis.

Saturday’s Game

On Saturday the Giants were primed to bounce back and get a win when they scored three first inning runs against the Cardinals in the top of the frame in St. Louis. Well, things did not go as planned as the St. Louis team answered with two runs in the bottom of the first and ended up winning 9-4. In fact, it seems to a recurring pattern and a big problem for the Giants pitchers this season: The inability to get that shutdown inning. For those of you new to the phrase “shutdown inning” and its importance let me give you a bit of a primer. The shutdown inning occurs when a pitcher pitches a scoreless inning immediately after his team has scored in the previous half inning. They are a huge part of taking the initiative in a game, keeping momentum and giving your team life when they are behind and confidence when they are ahead. For the Giants, it appears that in addition to a very mediocre offensive attack, the overall mediocrity of the starting staff and relief corps is defined by the inability to get the crucial shutdown inning and get your offense back in the dugout. It’s something I would work on were I on the Giants coaching staff.

At any rate, the 9-4 loss included a rare poor outing by Jordan Hicks (4 innings, five runs, three walks), and poor outings by Hjelle and Jackson who gave up two runs apiece in a game that was more than winnable for the San Franciscans. Big days and big hits by Burleson, Winn and Goldschmidt for the Cardinals were too much for the Giants who had leads of 3-0 and 4-2 but could not hold them.

The Wrap

The Giants are now in the midst of a five-game losing streak and have a record of 36-42 through 78 games. In other words, things are bleak. With Blake Snell stinking it up in his rehab start in Sacramento yesterday (don’t ask for the numbers, they are ugly!) and issues with Keaton Winn AND doubts about when Alex Cobb will return the Giants are in emergency mode when it comes to starting pitching. In other words it would not shock me if the Giants when something like 30-54 in their final 84 games of the season. The one bit of good news is that Robbie Ray is looking good in his rehab and is projected to return in a month, but that’s all speculative. I could go on and on about the front office decisions, the managing, the poor performances from a variety of veterans, particularly the free agents, but it’s too early for that. I will at least wait till the All Star Break.

The Highlights

I generally don’t like posting highlights following loses but it’s been so long since the Giants won a game that I need a fix and so do you!

Today’s Game

The Giants return home to lick their wounds, eat some home-cooking, sleep in their beds and then begin a three-game series against the Cubs tonight at 6:45 PM. The pitching matchup is listed as Steele for the Cubs and TBD for the Giants.