PHILADELPHIA — How do you sum up the four games the Giants just played at Citizens Bank Park? Bruce Bochy did it in three words.
“Lot of strikeouts,” he said, shaking his head.
Bochy muttered the phrase twice more as he sat in his office and tried to digest a four-game sweep at the hands of the up-and-coming Phillies. He did not know his lineup had set a franchise record. He only knew that what he had seen could be summed up cleanly: “Lot of strikeouts.”
The final total, including two in the ninth inning of a 6-3 loss, was 55 strikeouts over four games. That didn’t just break the previous franchise record for whiffs in a four-game series, it absolutely shattered it. The 2003 team struck out 44 times in a four-game series against the Diamondbacks, but they faced Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and a young Brandon Webb during that trip.
No offense to the Phillies group, but they do not have a couple of Hall of Famer caliber pitchers and a three-time All-Star in their current rotation. The Giants struck out 55 times against Zach Eflin, Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and a hard-throwing bullpen. It’s a group not particularly known for piling up strikeouts. The Phillies entered below-average as far as National League staffs go, but they got 17 percent of their season total in strikeouts over just four games.
The Giants have seen a lot of good pitching through six weeks, but Bochy said there was something different about the Phillies. The right-handers all had firm fastballs and came right at Giants hitters. They were aggressive, and the Giants swung and missed through one 95 mph fastball after another. When that wasn’t their downfall, it was good breaking balls.
“They’re all big arms, they all hit 95-plus and have a good secondary pitch,” Bochy said. “(Velasquez) had a good curve today to go with a fastball, and then he was spotting the fastball well. You look at this club and they’ve been playing good. When you’re playing good, you probably have pretty good starting pitching, along with a good bullpen. They’re a good team.”
Whatever this series was, the Giants had better figure out their issues on the flight to Pittsburgh. Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl and Ivan Nova are waiting. None have a shiny ERA, but they have the same profile as the pitchers who dominated the Giants this week. Right-handed, good fastballs, a secondary pitch to turn to. For four games in Philadelphia, that profile meant just one thing.
“Lot of strikeouts.”