Minimum Salary=Maximum Impact

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by Dr Lefty

A week ago today, I did a blog post recapping a very satisfying Friday night Giants win against the A’s. They didn’t win again until last night (OK, they did have four days off for the All-Star break, but stay with me). Here I am again, recapping a great Friday…well, hopefully we’ll sustain some momentum this time.

The Giants limped into noisy Oakland Coliseum for their rematch against the swaggering, rolling, bat-flipping, “my-housing” A’s, and honestly, they didn’t look up to the task. Their starting lineup, plus starting pitcher, consisted of four guys who began the season as River Cats (Rodriguez, Hanson, Duggar, and Jones), three guys who began the year as bench players (Sandoval, Gorkys, and Hundley), and three who were in the Opening Day lineup (Posey, McCutchen, and Crawford). The rest of that lineup from March 29 in Dodger Stadium? Well, two are injured (Panik and Longoria), one just became a father again (Belt), one has been traded (Jackson), and two have been relegated to the bench/bullpen (Pence and Blach). The closer who got the save that night?  Well…(see ya sometime in August, Meathead).

That Opening Day A-list lineup, carried by a fifth-inning homer by Panik and Ty Blach’s stout pitching, beat Clayton Kershaw and the defending NL champion Dodgers…by a resounding 1-0 score.  This “re-opening” game went a bit better for the Giants, ending with a comfortable 5-1 final tally. Sometimes less is more. Let’s look more closely at three “minimum investment–maximum impact” heroes of last night’s game.

 

Ryder Jones

Unfortunately, Ryder Jones and his baby face epitomize for many of us the disaster that was 2017. Remember how he got called up and went 0 for his first 18 last year? It’s fair to say that there was not a lot of enthusiasm here on TWG for Jones’s 2018 debut, even if it was only for one day to replace new daddy Brandon Belt.

 

So Ryder must have read all our mean comments while in the little boys’ room because he sure showed us, knocking the second-hardest home run this year for the Giants (the first was Mac Williamson’s in Anaheim, right after he was called up).

Credit to TF62 for calling himself out right away.

 

Oh, and speaking of Belt, congrats to him and Haylee on the safe arrival of “little” (9 lbs, 9 oz, yowza!) Augie, named after Belt’s coach at Texas, the late Augie Garrido.

 

Pablo Sandoval

Technically, Pablo isn’t a “minimum” player–either in salary or in, um, girth–but since the Red Sox are graciously paying for him to play for the Giants, we’ll put him on the list here. Pablo’s seventh-inning homer gave D-Rod and the Giants a bit of breathing room, and if you notice that Pablo took a moment to admire his blast and trotted very slowly around the bases, it’s worth remembering that Edwin Jackson hit him last weekend and went inside on him all night. This is the best revenge.

Pablo nearly did it again from the right side in the top of the ninth, which would have made him the first Giant to hit homers from both sides of the plate in the same game since…Pablo Sandoval in August 2012.

Pablo has now hit 14 home runs since returning to the Giants nearly a year ago. During his two-plus years with the Red Sox, he hit 14 home runs, total. Thanks much, Red Sox!

 

Last but not least: Dereck Rodriguez

Before the game, I asked here if anyone else was surprised that D-Rod and not Bumgarner was kicking off the “second half” (post-All Star) portion of the season. You’d think Bochy would want to set a tone, so…?

Well, Bochy did want to set a tone, and he picked the right guy for the job. It’s amazing how a 26-year-old rookie making just his eighth major league start can bring such a sense of calm, confidence, and poise to the mound, but that’s what he does, and that’s what he did. He’s now 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA, a WHIP of 1.151, an ERA+ of 149, and an FIP of 3.32. He does not hurt himself by walking guys (no walks last night) or giving up homers (just three this season). He did hit two guys last night, but considering that the A’s had some coming after last weekend, that may not entirely have been an accident.

Baggarly’s postgame details how Rodriguez loves Legos and Batman and does not want his nickname to be “Little Pudge.” He likes to keep it simple–“D-Rod” is a good nickname, he says–but I kind of like Tim Flannery’s contribution.

 

You have to wonder what the Minnesota Twins were and are thinking, having just let D-Rod walk as a minor-league free agent. It reminds me of a story many years ago after Rob Deer (the baseball player, not the Duck Dad) was traded away and was mashing elsewhere. As the story went, an anonymous Giants front office staffer said, “We don’t say his name around Mr. Rosen” (the Giants’ then-GM). I’m wondering if “We don’t say” D-Rod’s name around (Mr. Twins’ GM) is a thing now. Thanks much, Twins!  But before we get TOO smug about this:

Ugghhhh

 

Honorable mentions

It wasn’t all major-league-minimum types last night. Andrew McCutchen got the first hit, scored the first run, drove in another later with a sac fly, and made eight put-outs in right field (one short of Randy Winn’s SF record), including two slick sliding catches that ended two innings for Sugarman. Buster Posey drove in the first run with a little bloop single, and Brandon Crawford contributed some great glove work (when someone hit it to him and not Cutch) and also knocked in a run. Tony Watson returned to form with a no-nonsense seven-pitch ninth, and Duane Kuiper brought the shade when calling the last out:

Meanwhile, in El Paso, temporary Sacramento third baseman Evan Longoria (garishly dressed in a yellow and black Dorados jersey and Giants pants with the orange piping down the leg) went 2 for 3 with a double. It won’t be surprising if he’s on the charter for the road trip. They need him. Sorry, Ryder. Chris Stratton struck out ten Chihuahuas and would be lined up for a Wednesday start in Seattle if Samardzija can’t go (likely) and Holland is needed out of the bullpen this weekend (possible).

 

Tonight’s Game

Giants at A’s, 6:05 p.m., at the Turd Bowl
Madison Bumgarner (3-3, 2.90 ERA) vs Trevor Cahill (1-2, 3.10 ERA)

 

Belt should be back in the lineup, Posey is scheduled to catch Bumgarner, and no, Bum will not be batting for himself tonight.

Let’s keep it going this time, guys! Lefty out.