Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the Reds had to be particularly frustrating for Giants fans, considering that…
– Hunter Pence went 5-for-5 and the team as a whole collected 15 hits
– The team left 15 men on base, it’s high total in a nine-inning game since 2008
– Chad Gaudin, the club’s best starter of late, was roughed up for six runs in 3 2/3 innings
Reds starter Mike Leake pitched six innings of one-run ball despite surrendering 12 hits. Every last knock was a single. The Giants’ only extra-base hit came when Pablo Sandoval delivered a two-run double off Logan Ondrusek in the eighth.
Leake became the first pitcher since the Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco in 2011 to allow 12 hits and give up just one run. The last Red to do it was Tom Hume in 1978. The last time a starter did it to the Giants was the Pirates’ Bob Moose in 1972.
At least dating back to 1916 — which is as far as Baseball-reference’s wonderful play index goes — no one had ever had an outing as short as Leake’s and still managed to give up 12 hits and just one run. The next shortest was 6 2/3 innings. Which makes sense: it’s awfully, awfully hard to cram 12 hits into six innings and get just one run.
Pence’s 5-for-5 game was also pretty unusual. It was the first 5-for-5 game to feature no extra-base hits or runs scored since Detroit’s Roger Cedeno pulled it off on Aug. 15, 2001. It was also the first time a player went 5-for-5 for a team that lost by five or more runs since Adam Kennedy did so for Oakland in an 8-1 loss to the White Sox on Aug. 15, 2009.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.
The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.
Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.
With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.
Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.
Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.
The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.