Last night the Mets and Giants played 16 innings on the West Coast, which caused me to stay up until 3:00 a.m. and tweet some very stupid things. It also allowed Brandon Belt to get eight at-bats and the Giants first baseman went hitless while striking out five times in the 4-3 loss.
Striking out four times in a game in a “golden sombrero” and I believe striking out five times is a “platinum sombrero.” Of course, striking out five times while going 0-for-8 is a whole different level of misery, so I searched Baseball-Reference.com for all the instances of a player going hitless in at least eight at-bats with at least five strikeouts.
Brandon Belt 07/08/2013
Chris Davis 05/06/2012
Jim Thome 07/02/2004
Cecil Cooper 06/14/1974
Bobby Darwin 05/12/1972
Billy Cowan 07/09/1971
Tony Conigliaro 07/09/1971
Ron Swoboda 04/15/1968
Byron Browne 07/19/1966
Rick Reichardt 05/31/1966
So last night Belt became the 10th player in MLB history to have at least eight hitless at-bats while striking out at least five times in a game, including just the third player to do it since 1975. And there are plenty of very good hitters on that list. Chris Davis is the last guy to do it, about 14 months ago, and he’s currently leading MLB in homers and slugging percentage. And the last guy before him was Jim Thome, who’s headed to the Hall of Fame.
Also of note: Two of the 10 instances came in the same game, back on July 9, 1971, when the A’s beat the Angels 1-0 in 20 innings and Angels teammates Tony Conigliaro and Billy Cowan each went 0-for-8 with five and six strikeouts, respectively. They were hitting third and fourth in the Angels’ lineup, too.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.