The month of August has started favorably, as the SF Giants took three out of four from the New York Mets at Citi Field. In order to truly evaluate their performance in the Mets series, let’s take a deeper look at how the team did in specific areas.
The Giants put up a total of 20 runs this series (5 runs per game). They hit a torrid .392 (11 for 28) with runners in scoring position. Game 3 of the series featured a rare barrage of 4 home runs . In only game 2 of the series did the Giants fail to record least 9 hits and 4 runs scored. The Giants drew 10 walks in the series, with 7 of those coming in the rubber match. Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, and Joe Panik all had at least one multi-hit game.
The multitude of hits coming from a variety of players was great to see. It was also terrific for the Giants to get the clutch hit with runners in scoring position with more regularity. Although the 4 home run outburst was an anomaly, it was impressive to see the Giants utilize the long ball in a pitcher friendly ballpark. The offense stumbled in Game 2 in the middle of an intense pitcher’s duel, but overall provided reason for optimism as the Giants top hitters (Pence, Posey, Sandoval) look to be back on track.
Starting Pitching: A
Giants starters had an outstanding 2.10 ERA in the series. This series featured Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner each throwing a 2- hit complete game, with the latter being a shutout. Bumgarner became the first pitcher to throw a complete game with 10 or more strikeouts, and 100 or less pitches since Roy Oswalt in 2004. Jake Peavy retired the first 19 batters in a row and was pitching a gem before the wheels fell off in the 7th inning and within the blink of an eye was tagged for 4 runs. Tim Hudson was effective and allowed 2 ER in 5 innings.
The starting pitching set the tone in the series. All of the starters were working quickly and in rhythm. Vogelsong and Bumgarner were especially dominant and made sure the runs they were given stood up. Jake Peavy was visibly rattled after giving up a few hits after flirting with perfection as long as he did. However, all starters kept the team in the game and gave a viable chance at victory. Gutsy performances of this kind will be needed down the line, especially without the services of Matt Cain.
I’ll admit this may be a harsh grade. However, the starting pitching was so stellar that the bullpen was not needed for much for much of the series. The bullpen other than a single inning in Game 2 only played a crucial role in the rubber match. They did not give up any earned runs in the series, and did pitch 4 clean innings in Game 4. Juan Gutierrez, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo, and Santiago Casilla got the Giants to the finish line on getaway day.
It is excellent when the bullpen is well rested and then delivers shutout innings when summoned. This is what exactly transpired in this series, and it appears relievers are adjusting well to their specific roles in the ‘pen. Monday’s game was a great example of this. Gutierrez and Lopez fared well in the 7th inning in their right-handed and lefty match-ups respectively. Romo seems to be pitching with more confidence in the 8th and Casilla has looked lights-out as the closer.
The Giants for the most part played solid defense in the series. Hunter Pence had an amazing, sliding catch into foul territory in Game 2. Gregor Blanco had an impressive outfield assist, gunning out Juan Lagares at 3rd base in the rubber match (Lagares later was able to pay it forward and nailed Blanco at the plate).
The Giants made two errors in the series in the infield. Brandon Belt‘s was inconsequential, as it came when the Giants were up 8-0 in Game 3 of the series. However, Buster Posey made an errant throw to second attempting to throw out a runner stealing, and the ball sailed into center field. The runner advanced to 3rd and later scored on an infield hit to give the Mets the lead.
The biggest defensive miscue of the series was not ruled an error. Michael Morse misread a fly ball and came in rather than drifting back and the ball sailed over his head, costing Jake Peavy not only a perfect game, but ultimately the game itself. Morse doesn’t have the greatest range, but instinctively has to be better. Had Morse made the correct read and made the catch, there would have been 2 outs with nobody on. I don’t believe the Mets would put up a 4 spot in that instance.
Overall Performance: A
Winning three out of four games against the Mets on the road may not garner the most recognition around the league. However, the Mets hadn’t lost a series at home since June 10-12th against the Brewers. Winning on the road is challenging, regardless of the opponent. The Giants won the series playing at a high level in all facets (hitting, pitching, defense).
In the end, the Giants accomplished exactly what they needed to and gained 2 games on the Dodgers in the process. The Giants now possess the best road record in the Majors at 32-21. The Giants head to Milwaukee next to try to improve on their mastery on the road. Here’s hoping for more fundamentally sound baseball and “Road Warriors” becoming the moniker of the team down the stretch.