There are very few things in the world more pleasant than sitting at beautiful AT&T Park on a gorgeous summer day, shivering in the shade while your favorite baseball team tries to close out a sweep of the visiting team. Spectacular pitching, handsome defense, shiny plate discipline: this game had it all. Today was, all in all, a really good day in the grand scheme of things.
I’m trying to get all of that out of the way so I can start to complain a lot, because that game was really annoying. For a game in which so many things went right, today was a game of surprises. The Giants have had poor pitching and great offense, so today they pitched beautifully and couldn’t get it done at the plate. The Nationals lead the league in errors. Here’s some great defense. Bryce Harper looked awful yesterday and now apparently has a wall phobia. How ’bout a home run and some stellar defense?
Alas, we can’t win every game. Be we can complain after every game.
It’s a little too soon to crown Madison Bumgarner the Ace of the staff, especially with Cain getting back into Cain-like form, but he’s making a pretty good case for 1A status. Bumgarner was absolutely dealing tonight, striking out the side in the first (all swinging), and then scattering just four hits and two walks across seven strong innings, and had 17 first-pitch strikes.
Unfortunately, one of those hits was a blast from Bryce Harper, wunderkind and super-hyped prospect who unfortunately deserves every bit of the hype he’s receiving. He’s an amazing athlete and while none of us want our players to run into a wall at full speed, I think we all want to have a player on our team who would run into a wall at full speed if that’s what it took to win. Plus he’s 20! I don’t know if that particular point has been mentioned by the national media, but what he’s doing right now isn’t just really good from a 20-year-old player, but from any player. He also made a nice catch in the 8th inning to rob Hunter Pence of an RBI hit, and later doubled to right field while losing his helmet in a manner reminiscent of his first major league hit, a time when people everywhere were introduced to Harper’s, uh, unconventional haircut. Anyway, I’m moving Harper over from my “overhyped” column to my “appropriately hyped” column. Now please go away and leave us in peace.
It’s hard (and fun!) to complain about the offense this year, when the Giants are sitting pretty with the top team batting average in the National League, and second-highest OPS (behind the Juice Ball Bullshit of Coors Field). They’re actually scoring runs. What is that. But still, games like today’s and yesterday’s get a bit old. Just hit the damn ball where the damn fielder ain’t.
Andres Torres had the only two extra-base hits for the whole team. But while this could be the beginning of a depressing paragraph, my girlfriend told me to focus on the positives, so here we go. Nobody expected the Giants left field to be good. In fact, I wrote 76 words about that very subject last night. Coming into the year, podcast survivor Dan Szymborski and his ZiPS projection system predicted an output of about 3 fWAR from the left-field platoon. When Dan came on our show he was even more of a Debbie Downer, predicting it much lower. Well, let’s turn to the numbers:
Before today, National League left fielders are hitting .265/.336/.441, for a .777 OPS.
Before today, San Francisco Giants left fielders are hitting .270/.309/.365, for a .674 OPS.
No, it’s not great. But keep in mind that other teams have juggernauts in left like Carlos Gonzales, Ryan Braun, Justin Upton,
Juan Pierre and Starling Marte. The Giants have good hitters, they just don’t play in left field, and FanGraphs lists the Giants at 7th in the NL in fWAR from the left field position. Considering it was our major weakness coming into the season, middle-of-the-pack seems pretty nice.
Marco Scutaro lost his hit streak tonight, but he did it while saving an orphan puppy from drowning in shark-infested waters, taking a close pitch for ball four in the eighth inning in what was likely to be his final at-bat of the day. His hit streak died at 19 games, but his on-base streak was pushed to 24 games. I bet you can’t guess who has the longest on-base streak since 2000 (minimum 1 PA per game). If you guessed Orlando Cabrera (63 games), then you must have cheated. But if I asked you which Giant had the longest streak, non-Barry Bonds division, it’s Randy Winn with his magical 34 games in 2008. Right now Scutaro’s tied for 20th among Giants (or 10th in non-Bonds division) with his 24, so he’s in good company.
Brett Pill and Joaquin Arias both started today because of Belt’s stiff back and Panda’s continuing case of the “crud.” They combined for an 0-7 and three strikeouts. Let’s keep this as Plan B, guys.
Stats of the Day:
Total bases for the Giants: 7
Total bases for Bryce Harper: 6
Javier Lopez’s ERA as a Giant: 2.76
Number of players named Steve on the Warriors: 0