Ryder Jones played a game of MLB: The Show with roommate Christian Arroyo as Jacob deGrom Friday night — it was the only way the call-up could mentally prepare to face one the game’s best in his big league debut.
Jones got a hit in the video game. But, as it turned out, deGrom’s performance Saturday night was just about video-game good. Jones went 0-for-4 and the rest of his teammates floundered in a 5-2 loss to the Mets.
The San Francisco Giants (27-50) have seen the New York ace short of his sharpest recently. But this time deGrom (W, 7-3, 3.71 ERA) was “on,” and his breaking stuff was simply filthy, said manager Bruce Bochy:
“When he’s on, he’s one of the best in the game.”
A series against the Mets (33-41) seemed a good an opportunity as any for this Giants team to at least crack 30 wins — they’re the last team yet to do so. Instead, they notched their 50th loss. Despite earning the golden loss against a venerable foe in deGrom, Bochy and his team reflected on the milestone with a rare sense of embarrassment:
“I don’t think anyone saw it coming, to be honest. It just shows you that every year can be different than the one before. … We have some guys in there where it can be embarrassing, 50 losses.”
Embarrassment, in this clubhouse, probably feels a lot stronger given the make of the team’s core. The same guys who’ve won multiple World Series rings, earned monster contracts and extensions, are underperforming to a staggering degree, said Brandon Belt:
“(Embarrassing), that’s a good word to use. … When we’re losing as much as we are, it is embarrassing. It’s hard to explain, I don’t think we were expecting it.”
It’s important to note that the team isn’t playing ashamed; players are hustling out ground balls, battling for every base runner it can get in the late innings. Down four runs in the ninth and Buster Posey on, Belt hustled out a potential game-ending double play. He was deemed safe on review and ended up scoring the team’s second run on a Brandon Crawford double. The attitude that won this team three titles is still intact, he said:
“That’s how we’ve been the last eight years, we’ve shown resolve through the tough days.”
Johnny Cueto demonstrated that kind of resolve Saturday, too, putting together another dominant start following two-run outing in Atlanta, said Cueto, through team translator Erwin Higueros:
“Thank god, I think I’m in my rhythm now.”
Cueto (ND, 5-7, 4.20 ERA) gave his team a 105-pitch, 7-inning outing. Wilmer Flores leapt on a two-strike changeup, launching it into deep left for a solo homer (7) — it was the only run Cueto would allow on the day.
The Giant starter escaped a pair of hairy innings that could have put the game away early. First, forcing Yoenis Cespedes to pop-out with runners on the corners in the fourth. Then, he stranded a pair of leadoff runners in the sixth when Jay Bruce flied out and Lucas Duda lined out to Belt, who doubled off Cespedes at first. Bochy liked what he saw:
“He was right on, just made a mistake on that 2-2 count, … He’s throwing the ball very well, he should have a couple more wins.”
Cueto shook Bochy’s hand and looking primed for an undeserved loss, at worst, when Belt took the first pitch in the bottom of the seventh the other way for a game-tying bomb (14). That would be all the Giants could get off deGrom.
The tie-game would be broken soon enough, of course. Sam Dyson (L, 1-7, 10.13 ERA), Steven Okert and George Kontos couldn’t limit the damage following a Curtis Granderson leadoff triple in the Mets’ two-run eighth. Kyle Crick was hitting upwards of 95 mph on his fastball, but let the Mets ice it with two more in the ninth.
All the potential, young and old, in this bullpen is still wrinkled and has made noticeable damage to a hungry team’s chances in late innings. Bochy has noticed:
“You know there are going to be growing pains with them, but we haven’t been playing good baseball. So we get a look at them.”
The Giants, continuing to test their top talent, called up Ryder Jones. He had been batting .299 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 53 games with the Triple-A Sacramento RiverCats. San Francisco is the only team yet to get win No. 30. Bochy is trying to stay positive:
“We have a lot of baseball left … we’ll get back and figure this out.”
Belt kept it light with a positive projection:
“Way I see it, we had a good first half last year and bad second half. Hopefully we can have a good second half and reverse this.”