Goldschmidt. Arenado. Kim?
It turns out the St. Louis Cardinals might have three Giants-killers, and the third one is not what you would expect. Kwang Hyun Kim is a 32-year-old lefty with unimposing stuff, but nobody has been better this season against a Giants lineup that entered the day leading the National League in OPS.
Kim threw six shutout innings on Saturday at Busch Stadium to lead the Cardinals to a 3-1 win that evened the first series of the second half. Through 91 games, the opposing starter has gone at least six shutout innings just four times against the Giants. Kim has two of those starts. The quiet effort led to just the second loss in an Anthony DeSclafani start since May 23.
"He kicked our ass for the second time and it's frustrating because we weren't able to score runs for DeSclafani, who I thought was excellent," manager Gabe Kapler said. "Obviously the home runs to (Paul) Goldschmidt and (Tyler) O'Neil being the two blemishes. That's going to happen, he's not going to be perfect every time out, but we have to find ways to step up and support him when he pitches that good."
The Giants have done a remarkable job the last two years of battling against some of the league's best pitchers, and they're never overwhelmed by good velocity. This is a lineup of good fastball hitters, but Kim is completely different.
Kim's fastball averaged just 89 mph and ranged from 86.7 to 91.8. He also mixed in a slider, curveball and changeup, but got just six total swings-and-misses. He got plenty of soft contact, though, and once again had the Giants putting a lot of balls on the ground and taking awkward swings. He has allowed just six hits in 13 innings against the Giants this year.
"I don't think he's similar to most of the pitchers that we face. He feels more like a throwback and a guy that really relies on command and control," Kapler said. "I think we train for that in the same way we train for all different types of movement, with matchup machines and use different tools and techniques to train for it, so I don't think it's impossible, but I do think it's different."
What wasn't different was what Goldschmidt did. He's a more traditional enemy for the Giants, and his 26th career homer against them gave the Cardinals a three-run lead in the sixth. A couple of late rally attempts fell short for the Giants, who did at least get one bit of good news Saturday. Brandon Crawford drew a walk in the ninth a day after suffering a hamstring cramp and Kapler said he's optimistic the All-Star shortstop will be back in the lineup Sunday.