You Want Some Moore?
Buster Posey has caught three no-hitters, including a perfect game. When he’d been behind the dish, no pitcher had ever failed to record a no-hitter after taking it into the late innings. The Giants have had a pitcher throw a no-no in each of the last 4 seasons. No team has ever had a no-hitter 5 years in a row.
As it stands this morning, we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see if the Giants can make that fifth no-hitter happen.
Matt Moore was stellar, obviously. His last few outings, he’d been going after teams with just one or two of his pitches working for him. Last night, he had all three. His fastball had a lot of life to it, and he spotted it extremely well all night. His curveball had the snap to it that he needs to throw it in any count. And his changeup was a devastating off-speed pitch he threw more than once on the first pitch of at-bats. Matty Mo was dealing from pitch one.
Corey Seager’s bloop single may have ended Moore’s no-hit bid on the 27th out of the night, but Moore had the last laugh: the Dodgers were retired on the next pitch. Santiago Casilla shut the door, and the Giants avoided the sweep to stay within 2 games of the division lead.
More importantly, the Giants finally put great pitching and enough offense together on the same night against Los Angeles. They’d scored 5 runs in the first game of the series, but their pitching had been lit up for 9 Dodger marks as well. They’d squandered a beautiful 1-run start from Johnny Cueto in the second game, losing 1–0. But on a night when Moore would need just one run to secure a win, the Giants gave him four. They tagged Ross Stripling for 3 runs in the 4th inning, including 2 on Joe Panik’s 8th home run of the year, and tacked on another in the sixth to pad the lead.
Defensively, the Giants were flawless. Denard Span made two unbelievable catches in center to preserve Moore’s no-hit bid. For Giants fans who remember Matt Cain’s perfect game in 2012 (read: all of us), his performance was reminiscent of Gregor Blanco’s diving catch to preserve Cain’s spot in history. Span has said in the past that he’s a second-half player, and the Giants are starting to see that come to fruition.
What to Look For:
Hunter Pence left the game last night with tightness in his repaired hamstring. He’s listed as day-to-day, and Bruce Bochy has said that the injury isn’t serious. Obviously, though, tightness in that leg is an ominous sign for a player who’s missed significant time already this season. Pence went 0–3 last night.
Joe Panik is heating up. He homered last night to put the Giants up 3–0 in the 4th inning, and also walked twice. He hadn’t homered since he hit one off Alex Colome in Tampa Bay. That game in June was also the game in which Matt Moore plunked him in the head.
The Giants head back to AT&T to face the Braves for 3 games. Atlanta is the worst team in baseball this year with a record of 47–81. The Giants need to win the series at least, and to be honest should probably sweep the hapless Braves. The hiccup in that plan may come on Saturday, when Jake Peavy will get a spot start against Mike Foltynewicz. Peavy has not been good out of the bullpen since being relegated to the role of long reliever following the Matt Moore trade. Hopefully he can right the ship and the Giants can come away with a win.
Elsewhere in the division, the Dodgers are on their way to Chicago for a 4-game series against the Cubs. The Cubs are far and away the best team in baseball right now, with a record of 81–45. This series could give the Giants an opportunity to eat away at the 2-game lead the Dodgers now have in the NL West, provided they can take care of business against the Braves this weekend.
Gorkys Hernandez was called up in lieu of Mac Williamson to spell Hunter Pence down the stretch. Williamson has been playing in his rehab starts, but his shoulder is still giving him some trouble when he throws. The Giants will likely be cautious with him until rosters expand next month. If Williamson can come back healthy for the playoff run, he could help give the Giants some of the power at the plate they’ve been lacking in the last few series.