By Morris Phillips
SAN FRANCISCO–The Giants didn’t crawl any closer to 100 losses. Folks sitting in the right field arcade got to chase after a home run ball hit by the good guys. And Matt Moore didn’t surrender any extra-base hits.
For the thought-to-be forlorn Giants, today was a good day.
For the struggling Rockies, not so much.
“It’s easy to get in that shut down mode this time of the year when you’re out of it,” manager Bruce Bochy said after his Giants swept the Rockies with a 4-0 shutout. “I think if you look at these two games, that has not happened. These guys have stepped up and hit the field meaning business.”
Meaning business is a term used on a sliding scale for the 30th-out-of-30 Giants. Still a 4-4 home stand against the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Rockies says the team’s engaged, and the individual players want a role in Giants baseball going forward.
In Moore’s case, Wednesday’s game was a definitive statement. Notified that the club would be picking up his 2018 option earlier this week, this was no time for the pitcher to go out and pick up his National League-worst 15th loss.
Instead, Moore was fantastic, throwing six shutout innings, allowing six singles while walking two, and striking out six. Not only was the outing Moore’s best of the year, it was his best in the face of his 0-2, 13.50 ERA against the Rockies, and his 5.39 ERA overall.
In other words, wholely satisfying as has his overall body of work been disappointing. Think the Giants embracing the embattled pitcher with that contract extension played a role in Wednesday’s about face? Here’s what Moore said:
“For Bobby and the front office to show that kind of confidence before they had to, without a doubt, it’s probably the best thing that’s happened all year.”
Offensively, the Giants weren’t the knockout that Moore was, but what they did–for the second straight day–totaled four runs, and four is the magic number.
In games the Giants score three runs or less, they’re a barely-alive 13-72. When they score four or more, they’re a totally-engaged 47-21.
Joe Panik led the way with three hits, including a first-inning triple that resulted in the Giants’ first run. He would later add a double and a single, but didn’t get a fifth at-bat and an opportunity to hit for the cycle.
Brandon Crawford homered in the third, a first pitch liner down the right field line off losing pitcher Tyler Chatwood.
Hunter Pence walked and later scored in the seventh, as three Rockies’ relievers failed to close the door after Chatwood departed. Pence finished 0 for 3, but like Panik saw a nice jump in his offensive numbers over the eight-game homestand.
The Rockies captured 10 of the first 11 games between the two clubs this season, but the Giants struck back with wins in six of the final eight contests. The Rockies’ season-to-date mirrors the 2016 Giants with the fast starts and an agonizingly poor finish. The Rockies started 47-26, but they’re 35-44 since, and their lead over the Brewers for the second, wild card spot is down to one game after both teams lost Wednesday. The similarities between the two seasons weren’t lost on Chatwood.
“I think we came in here and beat them two out of three at the very end of last year when they were in the wild card, so I think that’s what you kind of play for is to interrupt somebody’s run for the playoffs,” Chatwood said.