Prior to their 2-0 loss Saturday night, the Giants took a definitive step on the path they believe can lead them back into contention next season. GM Bobby Evans declared the club’s intent to pick up left-hander Matt Moore’s $9 million option.
Do the Giants have to fix their woeful outfield defense? Of course. Must they balance out a lineup that leans too far left and lacks power? Obviously. Do they need to get more athletic? Sure. Do they require another choice or two in the bullpen beyond internal options? Ideally, yes.
But for a team that is on pace to lose 100 games, the Giants have made it abundantly clear: a resuscitated rotation must shovel the coal that will fuel any authentic hopes of a one-year turnaround. And as Zack Greinke and the Arizona Diamondbacks reminded them yet again Saturday night, the Giants play in a division where it’ll be tough for starting pitchers to measure up.
Greinke held the Giants to two hits in eight shutout innings while getting the best of Madison Bumgarner in a pitcher’s duel. Paul Goldschmidt connected for a two-run home run against Bumgarner in the first inning as the Diamondbacks (87-62) nudged ever closer to the postseason.
With all the worthy attention that the Cleveland Indians received while winning 22 consecutive games, it’s been easy to miss the fact that the Diamondbacks have won 20 of their past 25. Along the way, Arizona lowered its rotation ERA to 3.41 – dipping just below the Dodgers for the best in the National League.
A night after Robbie Ray struck out 10 in seven innings, Greinke was even better. He struck out eight, walked one and the only runner he allowed into scoring position reached on an error.
Greinke even managed to contain Bumgarner in a reprise of the opening day matchup in which the Giants ace slugged a pair of home runs. This time, Greinke got the best of the left-hander while smacking a pair of doubles.
Greinke has matched up five times against Bumgarner, either with the Dodgers or Diamondbacks, and Greinke’s team has won all five times.
The Giants played a clean game, at least. Shortstop Brandon Crawford made a series of athletic plays. He cut down Greinke trying to go from second to third on a ground ball. He also speared a sharp one-hopper and flipped to start a double play.
But the Giants lost for the 93rd time. They must go 6-6 over their final 12 games to avoid joining the 1985 club as the only 100-loss teams in franchise history.