Especially impressive in the Giants’ quick run to start the season is the surge has mostly lacked the offense. The strongest unit of the team has yet to get going, which has been seen as a means for encouragement: If they can play this well without their bats doing damage yet, imagine what happens when they catch fire.
On a chilly and misty Monday, when even the fans stayed away in their fourth game returning to Oracle Park, the bats were frigid.
The Giants managed just a pair of hits against strong Cincinnati pitching and snapped their four-game win streak with a quiet, 3-0 shutout at the Reds’ hands in front of an announced attendance of just 3,662, about half of what is allowed in San Francisco.
Despite the solid start — they fell to 6-4 on the year — they now have scored 18 runs in their past eight games (2.25 per game). The starting pitching was always going to be a variable with a unit comprised of injury risks, and the Giants hoped compiling enough bullpen arms would naturally form a solid unit. Their pitching has been solid, as has their defense, but the bats are hollow.
The Giants can point to luck that should turn and have some evidence on their side. Evan Longoria’s exit velocities registered 95.5, 102.3 and 105.1 mph, with two fly balls that totaled 751 feet. He went 0-for-4. The third hardest ball they hit was a blistered 104.5-mph smash from Darin Ruf, which went for a double play. Mauricio Dubon still has little to show for repeated solid contact.
They could do nothing, though, off Wade Miley (five innings) and Tejay Antone (three hitless innings, in which he faced the minimum). Hitting comes and goes, and it is very much gone so far.
The Giants got just two runners in scoring position, both times Donovan Solano, who reached second and then third in the fourth inning. But a Longoria flyout and Wilmer Flores ground out ended their hopes. He touched second again in the ninth, but Longoria struck out.
The most exciting play of the game did not count. Nick Senzel hit a slicer to right field that Austin Slater caught, and the extended net then caught him. He had jumped into the short wall in foul territory and tumbled over and snatched the ball, but it had touched the net first. While the crowd was angry, the next Jarlin Garcia pitch struck Senzel out.
This was ruled foul but what an effort from Austin Slater 💯 pic.twitter.com/ThWBlfHkK7
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 13, 2021
The Giants got five solid innings from Aaron Sanchez, whose only blemish was a third-inning, down-the-middle fastball to Jesse Winker, who hammered it to left-center to give the Reds a 2-0 lead. It was Cincinnati’s first hit, and Sanchez only allowed three in his five innings while walking one.
His night was ended early, though, after 66 pitches when Gabe Kapler wanted Tommy La Stella to pinch-hit with a runner on first and two outs in the bottom of the fifth. La Stella bounced out, and no offense could be wrung from their bats.
With Sanchez’s outing, Giants starters have now pitched at least five innings and allowed three or fewer runs in 10 straight games to start the year, matching the 1937 club for the second longest streak in Modern Era. The 2002 team is the leader with 12 straight.
With those kinds of starts and the Giants’ bullpen work, though, the Giants should have more equity built than this.