Sunday, April 11, 2021

Sweeeeep!!

SF 4  COL 0

That's three straight posts with exclamation points! The fans in San Francisco got another treat this afternoon as the Giants won their fourth straight, finishing the sweep of the Rockies with a team shutout. Anthony DeSclafani put together a second impressive start, recording the first six zeroes and once again notching two big strikeouts to end a threat in his final frame. He faced 25 batters (94 pitches), allowing six hits and a walk versus eight strikeouts, and showed a lot of calm determination with men on base, keeping them from scoring.

It was a good script for a win: score right away, get a good start, score some insurance runs late, and rely on the deep bullpen to finish it. Alex Dickerson hit a long homer to center with two out in the 1st, and Brandon Belt followed with a walk and--get this--a stolen base! He took everyone by surprise as the Rockies didn't make a play. Evan Longoria got a clutch hit to drive him in and make it 2-0 off German Marquez. Belt, looking rejuvenated, hit a solo shot in the 6th to pad the lead, and walked again in the 7th to keep a rally going. That gave Longo a second chance for a two-out RBI and he delivered.

Jose Alavarez got two outs but put two on in the 7th. Tyler Rogers loaded the bases with a walk but then got a comebacker for the final out. He went back for the 8th and retired the side. Wandy Peralta was called on for the 9th. He got two quick outs, then walked two, but got a grounder to end it. Reyes Moronta was placed on the 10-day IL and they didn't replace him, so it is good to see the bullpen depth emerging. It should be a strength of the team. Speaking of a team strength, is it too soon to hope it will be starting pitching?

Aaron Sanchez takes on the Reds tomorrow night, 6:45 Pacific.

Go Giants!

--M.C.


p.s. LaMonte Wade, Jr. was called in from the taxi squad to take Moronta's spot. He got two hits and a walk in his Giants debut. Jaylin Davis was moved to the 60-day IL and the Giants picked up a middle infielder, Thairo Estrada, to take the spot on the 40-man roster. Estrada is from Venezuela and was purchased from the Yankees. He's 25, right-handed, and has 121 PA in the big leagues.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

BCraw!

SF 4  COL 3

Brandon Crawford's two-run double was the big hit yesterday, and his three-run homer was the big hit today. It was a dramatic blast in the bottom of the 6th, turning a three-run deficit into a 4-3 lead. Starter Logan Webb struggled with command and gave up a lot of well-struck balls, but kept the game in check through four innings. In the 5th Ryan McMahon's two-out, two-run homer broke the 1-1 deadlock. Rockies starter Chi Chi Gonzalez put up a zero in the 5th but was replaced in the 6th after 80 pitches. It was the first start of the year for him. Lucky for the Giants lefty reliever Ben Bowden walked two guys and with one out Craw launched one into the arcade in right field. The lineup isn't exactly lighting it up these days so it is exciting to see one of the beloved old vets deliver the goods. Speaking of beloved old vets, Buster Posey threw out two baserunners trying to steal second base!

Four relievers each delivered a scorless frame: Caleb Baragar, Reyes Moronta, Tyler Rogers, and Jake McGee. Closer McGee has four saves in the team's five wins. Also noteworthy was FNG Tommy La Stella starting at second base and leading off: he had two hits, a walk, and a run scored. That's the kind of thing the team needs.

Anthony DeSclafani takes on German Marquez tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 Pacific. Don't you love all these day games?

Go Giants!

--M.C.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Johnny!

SF 3  COL 1

Johnny Cueto dazzled the fans at this afternoon's Home Opener, twirling 8-2/3 innings of 4-hit, 1-run ball, stifling the Rockies lineup and leading the team to a 3-1 victory. We all know he's a great showman and when the stuff is working he is hard to beat. The 7,390 fans in the ballpark had a grand time.

"I like to perform and pump up the crowd," Cueto said with a smile.

Yeah, we can tell!

Rockies starter Austin Gomber was equally impressive, matching zeroes through six until the Giants finally broke through in the 7th. He walked Wilmer Flores in the 2nd and gave up his only hit, a single from Buster Posey, in the 5th. Two walks undid him in the 7th, and reliever Tyler Kinley loaded the bases with another walk before Brandon Crawford's two-run double broke the deadlock. Brandon Belt singled off reliever Robert Stephenson in the 8th, and a walk to Flores and another hit by Posey loaded the bases. Alex Dickerson plated the third run with a single to finish the scoring. Those were the second and third bases-loaded opportunities the Giants lineup has created so far this season.

But the day belonged to Johnny. He cruised into the 9th and everyone was anticipating a shutout, but Chris Owings led off with a triple. Garret Hampson brought him home with a sacrifice fly, but everyone was still expecting a complete game. Ryan McMahon lined out, but Trevor Story singled, and that's when Gabe Kapler came to get his starter. The tying run was at the plate and Cueto had thrown 118 pitches at that point, so it was the right move. Jake McGee struck out Sam Hilliard to end it. Hilliard was in the game because Charlie Blackmon had been kicked out for arguing balls and strikes! Johnny was a shimmying fool today, using every hesitation move in his book, and you have to figure he sometimes faked out home plate umpire Ben May. Cueto got 25 called strikes as well, so you know he had the good stuff going.

The Giants have had a hard time scoring runs, something I did not expect, but the pitchers have been stingy allowing runs, something else I did not expect. If Johnny Cueto can regain some of his vintage form that would be a huge lift for the team. He kept the ball down today and threw strikes. It sounds so simple but it is obviously hard to do. I hope the back-to-back big performances by the number one and number two starters inspire the rest of the fellows in the rotation.

Logan Webb takes the hill tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 Pacific.

Go Giants!

--M.C.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Giants get the getaway win

SF 3  SD 2 (10)

The Giants take two of three from the Padres and get their first series win of the young season!

Kevin Gausman out-pitched Blake Snell, going seven innings and giving up only one run on four hits. It was another excellent start. Kap pulled him after 96 pitches and trusted the 8th inning to Tyler Rogers. It worked for two outs and then Will Myers (who else?) hit the game-tying homer. This is a funny year. No one knows how the pitchers will respond to the full-season workload and teams are understandably cautious with their aces. All of their starters, in fact. I can't fault the decision to sit Gausman after a superb day's work. He'll be stretched out as the season goes on. At some point the relievers have to get the job done. Rogers made a mistake, a fat pitch up in the zone, and he paid for it. Jake McGee, who threw 25 pitches on Monday, delivered a 1-2-3 9th inning and the Giants stayed alive. I thought it was interesting that Kap used McGee there, in a tie game. Perhaps he sees some increased urgency with the new extra-inning rules, or maybe he just wants multiple guys to be able to close games.

Darin Ruf hit a two-run homer off Snell in his first at-bat in the 2nd to open the scoring. Ruf's job is to mash lefties and he has done so. The ball bounced out of the center fielder's glove and over the fence so it was nice to catch a break there. It should have been enough with Gausman dealing, but the Padres and Myers forced it into extras. The Giants, miraculously, pushed the automatic runner across in the 10th on a sacrifice fly from Donovan Sandoval.

Wandy Peralta was called on to get the save, and he got it done, stranding the automatic runner in the bottom of the 10th. Peralta got a big strikeout for the second out and has really started to emerge as a bullpen weapon. Kap seems to have a lot of confidence in him. It was his first career save.

The Giants played three pitchers' duels in San Diego and came away with two wins and finish the road trip 3-3. They've shown resilience since their opening day debacle. It was a massive win today!

Off-day tomorrow. The Home Opener is Friday at 1:35 Pacific against the Rockies. Johnny Cueto takes the hill. Both Saturday and Sunday are day games, 1:05 PDT start times.

Go Giants!

--M.C.

Pads shut down Giants

SD 3  SF 1 

Aaron Sanchez had an impressive debut when you consider he has not pitched in two years. He threw 74 pitches over five innings giving up six singles, three of them seeing-eye grounders, and just one run against a potent San Diego lineup. It's good news for Giants fans. First time through the rotation and all five starters have done a credible job, with no blow-ups or meltdowns. Let's hope that continues.

Padres starter Yu Darvish was his usual impressive self, striking out seven over six innings, allowing a solo shot to Brandon Crawford and two singles. The bullpen struck out four more over the final three hitless frames and the Giants went down meekly.

Matt Wisler gave up the game-winning homer to new Giants-killer Victor Caratini in the 7th. Wisler has faced 12 batters in 1-2/3 IP and given up five hits, two walks, and six runs. The converted starter has been an effective reliever the last few seasons but in four games for San Francisco he's been a mess. Let's hope they get that straightened out soon.

Giants hitters are trending downward. They have a .212/.272/.418 slash line. The ten home runs is the bright spot, but they aren't putting enough men on base to take advantage of the power as nine have been solo shots. And they have 51 whiffs vs. 13 walks. They have to get the bats going.

Gausman gets his second turn this afternoon at 1:10 facing Blake Snell.

Go Giants!

--M.C.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Giants homer past Padres

SF 3  SD 2

The Giants hit three solo home runs--Darin Ruf in the 2nd, Evan Longoria in the 4th, and Mike Yastrzemski in the 7th--and that was just enough to beat the Padres tonight in San Diego. Yaz had been scratched from the starting lineup but pinch-hit for Caleb Baragar with the game tied and got the big blow. Presumably his hand injury was acting up. He was hit by a pitch in the last Cactus League game and had been struggling at the plate in the early going. It was a dramatic blast but the win tonight really belonged to the pitchers. The lineup had a couple of other chances to score but could not get a clutch RBI and thus the bullpen had to step up.

Anthony DeSclafani got through the first five innings, yielding four hits and three walks on 86 pitches (23 batters), and got pipped for one run in the 2nd on a two-out hit. He showed a lot of grit and determination in the 4th to stymie a rally and got two big strikeouts to end the 5th, shutting down another big chance for the Padres. After that it was Matt Wisler who gave up the tying run on a triple that probably should have been caught in right-center. Mauricio Dubon and Austin Slater miscommunicated and it cost the Giants a big run. Caleb Baragar finished the 6th, and Reyes Moronta got three ground ball outs in the 7th. Tyler Rogers had a clean 8th and Jake McGee pulled off the save in the 9th. He put two guys on with two outs and gave up a long fly ball but it stayed in the park and the Giants had a satisfying, if nail-biting, win.

The Padres lost their superstar shortstop, Fernando Tatis, on a weird play. He struck out in the 3rd and fell down after the swing, grabbing his left arm. He was replaced by former KBO star Ha-Seong Kim. Tatis is of course a big part of San Diego's future, let's hope he isn't seriously hurt.

Aaron Sanchez gets the ball tomorrow at 7:10 Pacific and faces Yu Darvish.

Go Giants!

--M.C.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Skunked

SEA 4  SF 0

Nothing but zeroes last night. Seattle starter Chris Flexen and his bullpen mates stymied the Giants hitting attack and the Mariners prevailed. Donovan Solano had two hits of course, but he also struck out twice, and that was the story as the lineup whiffed a total of 12 times. Logan Webb went 5-1/3 and allowed seven hits, three walks, and three runs on 97 pitches (25 batters). Reyes Moronta gave up the final run, a solo shot to the first batter, but otherwise was sharp, and both Matt Wisler and Jose Alvarez pitched well.

On to San Diego where Anthony DeSclafani gets the start Monday night, 7:10 Pacific.

Go Giants!

--M.C.