Bobby Evans casually announced to Los Angeles Times reporter Bill Shaikin last week that the Giants planned to exercise Matt Moore‘s $9 million option for next season, quelling season-long speculation that Moore’s unexpectedly tumultuous 2017 could cost him a spot on the squad.
Moore’s had a handful of strong starts this year and, perhaps with that self-assurance and security to lean back on, had one more:
“It clears the water a little bit in terms of knowing where I am next year. … For Bobby (Evans) to show confidence in me is, without a doubt, the best thing that’s happened all year.”
Waters cleared and slates cleaned as the Giants‘ second-to-last home stand came to a close, Moore dealt 6 shutout innings and struck out six Rockies in San Francisco’s 4-0 win Wednesday afternoon. They’ve now won three games in a row and need only avoid losing seven of their final nine to stave off 100.
Moore struggled to finish his two-strike pitches this season, but the big Rockies hitters were reaching and calls were falling his way. Nick Hundley, Moore said, worked the tight strike zone out in his favor:
“A couple of those were pretty close.”
But the third strike eluded him in the seventh; he allowed a pair of two-strike singles and got the boot. Steven Okert and Cory Gearrin struck out Pat Valaika and DJ LeMahieu, respectively, to keep Moore’s line clean.
Joe Panik was in the hole with the bases loaded in the eighth just a home run shy of the cycle. He’d tripled and doubled — scoring on both — and singled in the Giants’ fourth run in the seventh.
It was the kind of production that has come easy to Panik this month since he choked up and simplified his swing. But as he stood on the dugout stairs that eighth inning, Panik was ready to let loose:
“Normally I don’t do this, but I was swinging for it.”
Unfortunately for Panik, the inning ended abruptly with Kelby Tomlinson lining out and Gorkys Hernandez getting doubled off second. He missed out on his chance at the Giants’ first cycle since Pablo Sandoval in 2011, and his first home run at AT&T Park this season. Panik is aware of the discrepancy:
“Looking at the home run splits you wish it could be even, but that’s the way it is.”
A Panik home run Wednesday would have been a nice distraction. Still, he’s hitting .435 in September with six doubles and seven RBIs. It’s the kind of September Panik hopes will slide right into 2018, said Bochy:
“He’s seeing the ball well, using the whole field and driving the ball. … Even when he doesn’t hit it well, like on that double, it goes where they aren’t.”
Panik had some help.
Remember when the New York umpires rubbed Brandon Crawford of that home run in the right field arcade corner? Crawford found that corner again, but this time it sunk right into the seats for a third-inning solo shot. Sandoval added a two-hit game, and has now collected hits in seven of his last 11 at-bats.
The shutout was the Giants’ fourth of the season and gave the team a chance to, at least, play spoiler against an NL West foe. The Rockies are jut a half game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers in the Wild Card standings. It’s amazing what some situational hitting and strong pitching can still do in this league.
The Giants (60-93) are headed to their final road trip of the season, where they’ll first play the Dodgers (96-55) then Arizona (87-65) before returning home to finish their season against the Padres (68-83). Winning two of those games would prevent the second 100-loss in the franchise’s history.
Joe Panik finished the year with 34 hits in 19 games against the Rockies, the most by any individual Giant in franchise history.