SF Giants Torture Report: Road Trip Recap

cueto

Photo: @SFGiants Twitter

The San Francisco Giants will finally be returning home after a 3-city, 10-game road trip. The Giants finished the trip south with a 4-6 mark, and now have a 9-12 record overall. They’re in 4th place in the NL West, 6 games behind the first place Diamondbacks.

If it feels like the Giants have been on the road more than home so far this season, it’s because it’s true. The Giants have played 14 road games as opposed to only 7 at home. On the road, the Giants have posted a 6-8 record while winning only 3 of 7 at home. Still, it will be nice to have the boys back on the shores of McCovey Cove this week.

Is a 4-6 road trip considered a failure? Not really. It could have been so much worse after the Giants dropped 3 of 4 in San Diego and then lost the first game in Phoenix. They rebounded, and took 3 of the next 5 games, including their first series win of the season over the Los Angeles Angels of Disney Pacific California Marvel Anaheim.

That felt good too, didn’t it? Seeing the Giants win any series against the Angels puts a smile on my face. Probably makes you happy as well.  I don’t care what year it is, how long it’s been since 2002, or how many championships the Giants have won. Screw the rally monkey, now and forever. I mean, who’s really ever heard of a lifelong Angels fan? Is there even such a thing as a “die-hard” Angels fan? Doubtful.

Where was I? Sorry, Angels angry up the blood. 2002 is a deep scar. Oh yes, the current team.

What a weekend. First of all, did you see Brandon Belt’s record-setting 21-pitch at bat Sunday? It was the first time in the history of the game a batter and pitcher battled for 21 pitches, well, since pitches per at bat have been recorded at least. Amazing. Belt hit 11 straight foul balls before finally flying out on the 21st pitch.

That was a highlight, but it was not THE highlight of the weekend for the Giants and Belt. He homered in both games he played against the Angels and has now gone deep in each of his last 4 games overall. He’s been aggressive at the plate since the start of the DBacks series and has been attacking pitches early in the count. It’s another example of why Belt has been so frustrating to fans over the years and will probably be a lightning rod until the day he hangs it up or wears a different uniform.

The 21-pitch at bat seemed to give Belt some confidence as he collected 3 hits, including a homer, the rest of the day. Overall on the road trip, Belt was 9-for-27 (.333 BA), with 4 home runs, 5 runs scored, 7 runs driven in, and only 5 strikeouts. Belt even chipped in with a sac fly and let’s not forget his 10th inning homer last Wednesday to beat the DBacks.

Hello Longo

Welcome to the Giants Evan Longoria. After a rough start, Longo has made his presence felt in the Giants lineup. Heading in to the trip, Longoria was 5-for-38 (.132) on the season with 1 home run and 13 strikeouts. On the 3-city trip, Longo’s bat woke up and he went 13-for-36 (.361), with 4 doubles, 3 home runs.

All 4 of Longoria’s home runs this season have been 2-run shots. He hit safely in 7 of the 9 games he started on the road trip and his 7 total doubles on the season leads the Giants by a wide margin.

It’s obvious that Longoria was pressing during the first couple weeks of the season. He basically said so before the road trip when he told the beat writers that he hoped the road trip would be a bonding experience and it would give newcomers like him a chance to settle in with the team. Well, after a trip like that, Longo is fitting in just fine. The man is a doubles machine.

Return of Mac

During spring training this season, it was clear that Mac Williamson’s revamped swing was showing progress. It made the coaches decision difficult at the end of camp and ultimately Williamson had to start the season in AAA with Sacramento.

The PCL was not ready for Mac. He went 19-for-39 (.487!), with 6 home runs and drove in 16 runs in just 11 games. Due to Hunter Pence’s poor play, and a well-timed thumb injury, Williamson joined the team in Anaheim for the 3-game set with the Angels hoping to give a lineup that had been struggling a shot in the arm. He provided just that.

In the top 5th inning of Friday night in his second big league at bat of the season, Williamson hit a 2-run HR to right field that helped catalyze the Giants offense to a blowout 8-1 victory. Mac’s homer came off the bat at 114 mph and traveled 434 feet. Both the hardest hit, and longest hit ball by a Giants player this season.

Overall, Mac had 3 hits this weekend in 11 at bats. He’s going to be the everyday left fielder with Pence out and I think he has the chance to take over the position on a full-time basis. If Williamson performs, the Giants are going to have quite a pickle on their hands when it comes time to make a decision on Pence.

Pitcher of the week

How good has Johnny Cueto been? It’s almost as if last year never happened for him because Cueto has started this season on a roll. He currently leads baseball with a 0.35 ERA. He’s allowed 1 run in 26 innings so far in 2018. ONE!

After a brief trip to the DL, Cueto returned on this past trip and made 2 starts. The first, was an absolute gem. On a night when the Giants got 1-hit by DBacks starter Patrick Corbin, Cueto looked like the better pitcher. In that start, Cueto allowed 2 hits over 7 innings while striking out 11. It was the kind of dominant performance we had seen from Johnny Beisbol in 2016 that earned him the starting nod in the All-Star Game that year.

Yesterday, in the finale of the trip, Cueto threw another 6 scoreless innings while allowing 2 hits and keeping Mike Trout in check. Trout went 0-for-3 with 2 K’s vs. Cueto, which is significant because he homered in every game of the weekend series. Both hits given up by Cueto on Sunday came in the 6th inning. That means Cueto has taken 2 different no-hitters, he also did it on March 30 in LA, into the 6th inning this season in just 4 starts.

If Madison Bumgarner comes back from his injury and performs, the Giants are going to have one hell of a 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation.

Player of the week

Duh. It’s Belt and Longoria for all the reasons written above.

I will take this spot to note the Giants have scored 66 runs this season, 28th in all of baseball. Weirdly, the Giants have scored 37 of those 66 runs via the home run. That’s 56% of their runs. That is not something we are used to lately. It was just last season the Giants hit 19 straight home runs with no one on base. This year, 12 of the Giants 22 home runs have come with men on base. Go figure.

Coming up

The Washington Nationals are in town for a 3-game series with the Giants to start a 10-game home stand. The Dodgers come to town this weekend, but I hope we can get to that on this week’s show. We will try to record Thursday this week. Chad is currently out-of-town and he is the one with all the technology and stuff that makes us go.

Back to the Nats. They come into AT&T Park with a 10-12 record and just dropped 2 of 3 to the Dodgers in LA. This upcoming series with the Giants is their last on a 3-city trip. It’s interesting timing, as the Giants have just come off a series against Mike Trout, and now they get Bryce Harper for 3 games. It’s like there’s no break.

You may recall last season when Hunter Strickland took his personal grudge to the mound and plunked Harper for a home run from 3 years prior. I don’t think any shenanigans will crop up in this series. Strickland seems to have taken a leap forward and is no longer the young immature pitcher he used to be.

The Giants will catch a break this series and only face 1 of the 2 Nationals aces. On Wednesday afternoon they face 3-time Cy Young winner Max Scerzer. This allows them to avoid Stephen Strasburg. Plus, the Giants have shown they can hit Scherzer, at least they did in 2012 when it mattered.

Torture Level

By the end of the road trip things calmed down to a 6 or 7. That series against San Diego was torture in the sense that the Giants kept missing opportunities. The 3-game sseries in Arizona was more the torture we are used to. All 3 of those games were tight, well pitched games in which either team could have come out on top.

Friday night’s 8-1 thrashing of the Angels helped snap us back into some fun baseball over the weekend as the offense seems to have some life. Sunday had its moments, but thankfully Stricklamd recorded the final out with the winning run at the plate and Mike Trout waiting on deck.

I vote for more games like that 8-1 victory and less of the 1-run losses. I’m not trying to be picky or anything.

As I mentioned above, we are not recording this Monday. We should be back Thursday to preview the Dodgers series.

Remember to subscribe to our podcast on iTunesStitcherSpotifyPodBeanPodOMatic, and some other places I’m sure I am missing. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out the YouTube channel which now has all new episodes as well as plenty of player interviews and much more.

-Eric

 

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