PHILADELPHIA — The Giants did a lot wrong on Tuesday night. A lot. And yet somehow there they were, sending Buster Posey to the plate as the tying run with two outs in the eighth.
Posey rolled a Tommy Hunter pitch softly to third and the Giants went down quietly in the ninth. They lost 4-2 to the Phillies on a night when they were sloppy defensively and on the bases and did little but whiff at the plate. They've dropped the first two here after sweeping the Braves.
Here are the details...
--- The biggest surprise this season might be how sloppy the defense has been. When Cesar Hernandez hit a double to the wall in the third, Austin Jackson dropped the ball three times, allowing Hernandez to cruise into third. He scored two batters later when Odubel Herrera’s grounder up the middle got under Alen Hanson’s glove. Hanson isn’t known for his defense, but Jackson was brought here to fix the issues in center field. The Giants have 11 errors through the first five games of this trip.
--- A night after Zach Eflin set a new career-high in strikeouts, Aaron Nola did the same. He struck out 12 over seven dominant innings, allowing just a second-inning run on a Brandon Crawford groundout. Nola got 26 swinging strikes. This is becoming a bit of a trend for the Giants. They’re up nearly 5 percent from a year ago in strikeout rate.
--- Jackson struck out three times. He has 35 strikeouts in 85 at-bats.
--- With two outs in the fifth, Gregor Blanco on first, and Andrew McCutchen at the plate, Nola made a pickoff throw that was so close that the Phillies challenged the call. They were unsuccessful, but two pitches later, Nola did pick Blanco off. The Giants have had six runners picked off this season, the most in the majors. They had 11 runners picked off all of last season. Here’s another area they need to clean up.
--- It could have been worse for Derek Holland. He gave up a couple of homers in the first three innings but managed to get through five. He was charged with three earned on six hits and two walks.
When the Dodgers traded Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Reds last month, it sparked speculation that the team was clearing space in its outfield to sign Bryce Harper.
What if it was for A.J. Pollock instead, though?
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday that the Dodgers are interested in Pollock, who fits their player profile and needs in many ways.
Pollock has his issues -- he reportedly wants a five-year, $80 million contract, and he played more than 115 games just twice in seven seasons with the Diamondbacks. But, as Rosenthal noted, Pollock would provide the Dodgers with positional versatility and the right-handed bat they need. Harper, a lefty hitter who mostly plays right field, would do neither, and he’s rumored to be seeking a $300 million-plus deal.
While the Dodgers have big wallets, they could decide signing Pollock for about one-fifth the price of Harper is more prudent. That certainly would sit well with Giants fans, who don’t want to see their hated NL West rivals loading up for a run at a seventh consecutive division title.
And before you ask, no, Harper and/or Pollock aren’t options for the Giants, who also could use outfield help. It’s clear new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who came from the Dodgers, values sense more than dollars as he tackles the huge task of making the Giants contenders again.
Both the Giants and the A's reportedly had interest in acquiring Yankees starting pitcher Sonny Gray this offseason, but it doesn't appear he'll make a return to the Bay Area.
Per Fancred's Jon Heyman, the Yankees and Reds are engaged in trade discussions that would send Gray to Cincinnati in exchange for infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick.
Gray would have made sense for both Bay Area teams, as the Giants and the A's could use an influx of quality starting pitching. Gray went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 130.1 innings for New York last season, but he was far better on the road than he was at home.
Considering Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Park are far more pitcher-friendly than Yankee Stadium, a bounceback season in the Bay Area certainly could have been possible. Alas, it appears Gray could be making his home starts at Great American Ball Park, which just might be the most hitter-friendly park in the entire league.