The San Francisco Giants disgraced themselves on Tuesday night, throwing at an opposing batter for no reason and putting one of the faces of baseball in jeopardy as a result. This wasn't old-school, eye-for-an-eye baseball and there's no way to put a bow on it: It was trash baseball.
Here's the timeline of events with the Miami Marlins and, yes, it involves Hunter Strickland, who has a history of doing dumb things on the baseball field after he started that ridiculous brawl last year with the Giants when he threw at Bryce Harper.
1. Last week, in that 16-inning game in Miami, the Marlins tied the score in the ninth off Strickland when rookie Lewis Brinson hit a tying sacrifice fly. Brinson, who has struggled all season, had a great nine-pitch at-bat and was excited for doing his job, shouting "Let's go!" even as the catch was made in deep center field.
Unwritten Rule No. 1: Don't celebrate sacrifice flies too enthusiastically.
2. On Monday, Brinson came up in the ninth inning against Strickland with the Giants up 4-3 and runners at the corners. Strickland's first pitch was up and in, an obvious message for the sac fly celebration. Brinson then singled to tie the score, slammed his bat down as he ran to first base and chirped a friendly word or two to Strickland.
Unwritten Rule No. 2: Rookies shouldn't act happy, even if a veteran throws a knockdown pitch at them.
3. Another base hit put Brinson on third and as Strickland departed to the dugout he said something to Brinson, who said something back, and the Giants' bench said more stuff and then Strickland went into the clubhouse, punched a locker and broke his hand and will miss six-to-eight weeks. Oh, the irony.
Unwritten Rule No. 3: Rookies don't talk trash to veterans.
4. Tuesday night, Brinson came up in the second inning with runners on second on third and one out. Giants rookie Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson in the hip. Frankly, Rodriguez should have been immediately ejected, as his intent was obvious.
Unwritten Rule No. 4: We're the Giants, you're the Marlins. Or something.
Unwritten Rule No. 5: An eye for an eye.
Even Giants fans didn't like the chain of events:
#SFGiants are embarrassing themselves.— Wendy Thurm (@wendythurm) June 20, 2018
Would not be surprising if these recent events lead to either:— Jaymin Patel (@JPatelEM) June 20, 2018
1) a complete tear down and rebuild, including moving anyone not named Bumgarner or Posey
2) some sort of miraculous 2nd half surge
My money is on 1.
And drilling Brinson is a cowardly act. https://t.co/3JQu0mpcuN
Giants beat writers were not kind about the chain of events:
Dereck Rodriguez drills Brinson. Both sides warned. Amazing. Two #SFGiants had hand surgery today, and now the #marlins have an opening to hit another Giant, all because (I guess) Brinson pimped a single and made Strickland mad enough to break his hand.— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) June 20, 2018
It's idiotic. The whole thing is idiotic. This is what losing teams do. https://t.co/67rqANOEdO— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) June 20, 2018
The Giants were lucky Posey wasn't injured. They're without their closer for an extended period. They finished the evening with a win but are still two games under .500 and they've been outscored by 27 runs on the season. It's time to worry more about winning baseball games than sending some ridiculous message to .180-hitting Lewis Brinson. Memo to Hunter Strickland & Co.: If you don't want Brinson to celebrate, get him out next time.
Astros' streak ends at 12: This was the way the winning streak was bound to end -- with a shutdown performance from an ace-level hurler like Blake Snell, the only ace-level pitcher the Astros will face until ... well, probably until a series against the Mariners from July 30-Aug. 1, when they might get James Paxton. They had their chances as Snell walked seven batters in seven innings and they had two runners on in the ninth, but Sergio Romo got Jake Marisnick to pop out to second base to end it.
That was an interesting inning for A.J. Hinch. Evan Gattis led off with a single off Jose Alvarado and Josh Reddick pinch ran for him. Tony Kemp, who was in the game after Marwin Gonzalez had been ejected, was due up, but Jose Altuve pinch-hit for him and flew out. Romo came on, Max Stassi struck out and Tyler White reached on an infield single. Marisnick and his .176 average were up against righty killer Romo. Brian McCann was the only player left on the bench. The Rays did have lefty Jonny Venters in the pen and he probably would have faced McCann.
If Hinch had to re-do the inning, he'd probably let Kemp bat and save Altuve to hit for Marisnick. The risk there is you don't get to Marisnick's spot if Kemp, Stassi and White are all retired. Really, this all points to the problem of these four-man benches in today's game (and some AL teams have only three guys on the bench). Yes, the Astros were down to three men because of the Gonzalez ejection -- otherwise, Kemp would have run for Gattis and Reddick would have still been available -- but the short benches inevitably lead to some bad matchups like Marisnick facing a righty with the game on the line.
Time to erase Earl Webb from the record books: Nice win for the Twins, keeping the game close against Chris Sale for seven innings and then scoring four in the bottom of the eighth against the Boston bullpen. Eduardo Escobar had the go-ahead single in that game and Jackie Bradley Jr.'s error on the play allowed another run to score. Earlier in the game, Escobar hit a two-run double off Sale:
That's 32 doubles for Escobar, putting him on pace for 75. The record is 67, set by the immortal Earl Webb way back in 1931. Escobar, in fact, leads the majors with 46 extra-base hits, two more than Mike Trout and Jose Ramirez. Others have chased Webb's record for half a season before falling off, including Joey Votto and Manny Machado in recent seasons, but Escobar's improvement at the plate is turning into one of the season's most interesting stories. He's now hitting .305/.355/.586 and looks like the best bet to represent the Twins at the All-Star Game.
As for Sale, this is now six games in which he has given up two or fewer runs and didn't get the win. He's 6-4 with a 2.74 ERA and headed to another All-Star Game, but the Red Sox are just 8-8 in games he has started. Baseball is random.
Maybe the Braves don't need a third baseman: Johan Camargo batted ninth for the Braves as they blew out the Blue Jays 11-4, and he went 4-for-5 with five RBIs, including this grand slam:
CAMAR🐐 pic.twitter.com/wn4gruMUQt— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) June 19, 2018
Camargo is hitting a respectable .240/.354/.448 and I point that out because the Braves are lacking your classic OBP guys at the top of the lineup. Ozzie Albies hit leadoff Tuesday and he has a .293 OBP. Dansby Swanson hit second and has a .303 OBP. Ender Inciarte has shown leadoff skills in the past but has just a .309 OBP this year. Maybe Camargo is an option there, with Albies sliding into the two-hole, at least until Ronald Acuna Jr. returns.
Battle of the bad bullpens: Two teams that could have used Kelvin Herrera met up Tuesday night and the Phillies and Cardinals bullpens combined to give up five runs. The Phillies tied it with two runs in the bottom of the eighth, but Matt Carpenter did this to Seranthony Dominguez in the ninth:
That was an impressive swing, turning on a 98 mph fastball on the outside corner. Carpenter has been red-hot since May 16, hitting .326/.383/.636. I keep waiting for the Cards to make a nice run -- 10-2, something like that -- but they're 9-1 against the Reds and under .500 against the rest of the schedule. They just lost two series at home to the Padres and Cubs, and dropped the opener in Philly. They're in the middle of a tough stretch here: After Philly, they go to Milwaukee, then play Cleveland and Atlanta at home, and Arizona and San Francisco on the road.
Ian Desmond is not having a good season: The Rockies beat the Mets and Desmond hit his 15th home run. He's on pace for 30 home runs. He's also hitting .214/.278/.433. In Colorado. As a first baseman. The Rockies are 28th in the majors in wOBA at first base. That's unadjusted for park effects, dear readers. Desmond's WAR entering Tuesday: minus-0.7. (Of course, there are perhaps even worse ideas: The Mets put Dominic Smith in left field in this game.)
So, we present this list of the worst 30-homer seasons, via Baseball-Reference WAR:
1. Dante Bichette, 1999 Rockies: 34 HRs, minus-2.3 WAR
2. Mike Jacobs, 2008 Marlins: 32 HRs, minus-2.0 WAR
3. Dave Kingman, 1986 A's: 35 HRs, minus-1.0 WAR
4. Tony Armas, 1983 Red Sox: 36 HRs, minus-0.8 WAR
5. Leon Wagner, 1964 Indians: 31 HRs, minus-0.6 WAR