Jon Gray pitched his best game of the season. He was almost unhittable, giving up two harmless singles in seven innings, retiring eleven straight Giants between those two hits, striking out seven and walking none.
He was only at 87 pitches after seven innings.
But baseball calls you to put in your eighth-inning guy when it’s the eighth inning and you have a narrow lead, and the eighth-inning guy will give it to your ninth-inning guy.
There’s always a chance, no matter how good the eighth-inning and ninth-inning guys are, that one of might be off.
For a brief moment it looked like that might turn out go be Aroldis Chapman. The Giants half of the eighth inning turned into an adventure, and not a fun “hey. let’s go look for buried treasure and see what we can find” adventure but a “hey, the plane is nosediving into the mountainside and hurtling out of control, I hope we don’t crash” adventure.
After striking out Austin Slater to start the inning, Chapman had a long battle with Patrick Bailey before walking him. Then he throw a wild pitch that was so far over everyone’s heads it looked like an outtake from the movie Bull Durham where Nuke LaLoosh hits the bull mascot. That moved Slater to second.
Chapman’s next pitch ended up rattling along the backstop as well. Suddenly, the Giants had a runner at third, one out, in a 2-0 game, and Chapman had totally lost his ability to throw the ball within a tri-state area of the strike zone, while Jon Gray looked on from the dugout, having thrown only 87 pitches.
His first pitch to the next Giants hitter, Mark Mathias, was in the dirt. And, it was looking like Bochy made a huge mistake not letting Gray complete this game. The count went to 3-1. Then, Chapman’s control decided to return. He threw two strikes past the overmatched Mathias for the K. He struck out the next Giants hitter on three pitches.
But that was only the eighth.
As Jon Gray looked on from the dugout, having thrown only 87 pitches, Will Smith came out to close it in the ninth.
He promptly gave up a leadoff double that turned into a three-bagger. In Smith’s defense, it was a catchable ball that Leody Taveras misplayed into a double, then, upon retrieving the ball, threw it into the ground and it rolled another twenty feet away, allowing the run to go to third.
As Jon Gray sat in the dugout, having thrown only 87 pitches, the Giants scored on a ground ball out. fortunately, three pitches later Smith was out of the inning. The Rangers walked off the field with a 2-1 victory
And Jon Gray watched it all from the dugout, having thrown only 87 pitches.