San Francisco’s 8-0 thumping of the San Diego Padres Friday night was the team’s 63rd win of the season, assuring that the 2017 Giants would not join the 1985 squad as the only team in franchise history to lose 100 games.
Given the expectations placed on the Giants heading into the season, avoiding 100 wins is perhaps the feeblest moral victory to be found. But when a team stands on the precipice of the century mark in losses, any chance for a symbolic win should be seized.
The Giants scored a trio of runs with two out in the first inning, taking advantage of a shaky Jordan Lyles (1-5, 7.75 ERA). Lyles surrendered a long RBI double to dead center to Buster Posey, then a broken bat RBI single to Brandon Crawford and an RBI double down the right-field line to Pablo Sandoval.
Bruce Bochy lauded the Giants for their two-out at-bats:
“We had some great at-bats with two outs didn’t we? At times it looked like we weren’t going to score and then the next guy would come through for us. Those are those timely hits that win ballgames for you. It’s obvious we were missing a lot of them this year but it’s good to get them, it’s good to get them for [starting pitcher Chris Stratton].”
The Giants tagged Lyles again in the fourth, again doing damage with two out. Buster Posey‘s second RBI double of the game made it 5-0 and chased Lyles from the game. The Padres brought in left-hander Kyle McGrath to face Brandon Crawford, who promptly singled in two more runs, both charged to Lyles. The single capped a four-run inning and pushed the lead to 7-0.
Meanwhile, Stratton (4-4, 3.68 ERA) made his 10th and final start of 2017, scattering seven hits and two walks across 6-2/3 shutout innings and striking out seven. Stratton said he’s proud of the way he ended his season:
“It’s always nice to end on a good note, you know … it’s a good feeling to go into next season and hopefully I can remember everything that I’ve done this year.”
“He threw the ball great. Used the whole strike zone really well, used both halves of the plate. He threw his fastball up in the zone really effectively … Any time you can work your fastball around the zone that well and throw three other pitches for strikes, you’re going to have a lot of success.”
With Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore all virtually guaranteed rotation spots in 2018, Stratton is in an unspoken battle with Ty Blach to be the front runner for the fifth rotation spot.
Bochy acknowledged the way Stratton pitched Friday as well as down the stretch:
“He’s made a really big statement, I think. You look at his body of work here after coming back up, his last seven starts, it’s just over a two ERA I think. Just watching him pound the strike zone, he’s got two good breaking balls, a changeup … he finished up on a great note tonight.”
Matt Cain (3-11, 5.66 ERA) makes his final career start Saturday afternoon, facing Jhoulys Chacin (13-10, 3.98 ERA). Cain is 8-14 with a 3.20 ERA in 38 career appearances (37 starts) against the Padres. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.
Buster Posey’s seventh inning RBI double, his third of the game, made it 8-0 and tied his career high for doubles in a game. Posey is hitting .317 with 12 home runs and 67 RBI with two games to play. … Chris Stratton threw a career-high 110 pitches Friday night. It’s been a long road for the former first-round draft pick, but he likely goes into 2018 Spring Training as the leading candidate for the fifth starter job. … Brandon Crawford increased his team lead in RBI to 76. Crawford needs nine RBI in the final two games of the season to beat his career high, 84 in 2015 and 2016. … Joe Panik raised his batting average to .290 with four hits. He’s not likely to get to .300, but considering he was hitting .240 as late into the season as June 1, the Giants have to be encouraged with their keystone infielder.