That photo above only looks like Shaun Anderson, Stephen Vogt, and Matt Herges (get well soon, Curt Young!) walking in from the bullpen after a pregame warmup. In reality, the guy in the middle is a new superhero.
The Giants’ rotation was historically bad in May, which, thank Mays, is over now. It was the worst month by a Giants rotation in the San Francisco era. It was the worst month any MLB team has had since 2015. And bear in mind that this was a month in which a fully healthy Madison Bumgarner made six starts, and while he didn’t set the world on fire, he was fine, averaging over six innings per start and more than a strikeout per inning, and ending with an ERA of 3.72, which is perfectly respectable these days. It was the rest of them that…well, “imploded” doesn’t seem quite strong enough for what happened in May. Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz lost their rotation spots. Dereck Rodriguez was demoted to AAA. Jeff Samardzija pitched like, well, himself. Younger starters Ty Blach, Tyler Beede, Andrew Suarez, and Anderson himself came up from Sacramento to make starts, and all of them were disasters until Beede’s most recent start on Thursday.
This was a rotation that desperately, DESPERATELY, needed to turn the page on a month from hell. They needed a hero, and they found one in a rookie making his fourth major league start, a guy whom Bumgarner of all people has nicknamed “Baby Thor,” and not only because he has flowing locks like Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard does (or used to). When Anderson is going well, he has a scowl and a swagger that would make the original Thor (Syndergaard) proud.
Anderson pitched seven solid innings, giving up two runs. That’s good. It’s really good. But it’s not Kershaw or even Bumgarner in his prime. However, no Giants starter has gone seven innings and given up only two runs since Bum did it on April 13, almost two months ago. Anderson left with a 7-2 lead and earned his first major league win and a Vogt Hug.
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) June 1, 2019
For his reward, well, take it away, Alex.
The Giants won 8-2. Shaun Anderson picks up his first career win with seven strong innings. Next stop: A shower of beer and soap and ranch dressing and all sorts of other weird stuff.
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) June 1, 2019
Alex went on to say this about Anderson.
Anderson is soft-spoken off the field, and teammates have already noted he’s not one for lengthy conversations, but he pitches angry, and this roster certainly could use a lot more of that in the long run.
Baby Thor? He actually sounds like–well, like Bum. Or maybe Ryan “Chainsaw Angry” Vogelsong. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more from this young man.
Brandon Belt had a great day, driving in four runs in a game for the first time in nearly two years and acquitting himself well in left field. This two-run double was my favorite because the Orioles have been cheating like hell to right-center versus lefties the whole series, clearly not thinking any Giants hitter can pull the ball to right. With the bases loaded, Belt took full advantage of those wide-open spaces.
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) June 1, 2019
Buster Posey had a busy game for a guy who was supposedly “off” DHing, scoring three runs and having to run the bases a lot on a warm day. But the incident that knocked him out of the game late was an awkward collision with the Orioles’ reliever at first base when he was trying to beat out a ground ball. Reportedly he’s just a little sore and will take the day off tomorrow and be OK to play in New York on Tuesday. Poor Buster even had to run, not trot, when he hit an opposite-field home run. Sheesh, can’t a 32-year-old catcher just coming back from hip surgery catch a break?
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) June 1, 2019
Kevin Pillar basically created Run #8 with his speed and his hustle. He busted it all the way for a double, then took third on a fly ball, then scored on another fly ball on a very close play at the plate. That guy has both speed and savvy on the bases, and the list of Giants who have both of those things basically begins and ends with him.
Evan Longoria did manage a sacrifice fly, but other than that, he and Brandon Crawford were both pretty dreadful at the plate all day long. Both are now hitting .209 for the season, and Crawford’s OPS is an anemic .581, which is by far the worst of any position player on the team except maybe Donovan Solano, and we’re not going to count him because he won’t be here much longer. Crawford did, however, look smooth and sharp (can you be both?) in the field.
Pablo Sandoval played first base and though he didn’t do much at the plate, he played very good defense and got Anderson out of a couple of minor situations.
And OK, despite my carping, Mark Melancon got through his relief inning just fine. Keep on improving that trade value, Mark!
This is three games in a row that a young starter–Tyler Beede, Dereck Rodriguez, and now Anderson–has given the team a boost, eating innings and giving the team a chance to win.
Mike Yastrzemski is looking like he wants to grab his opportunity and make th revolving left-field door stop for now. He takes good ABs and has some pop and some speed.
Sam Coonrod pitched the ninth with a big lead and looked amazing–after the first pitch where he almost decapitated the hitter, who gave him some serious stank eye. Coonrod throws sinkers and other fastballs in the 96-99 MPH range, and those pitches appear to have a nasty finish. Coonrod had 30 strikeouts in 18 innings at AAA, and from what I’m hearing about AAA numbers this season, we should ignore his alarming 7-ish ERA and focus on the stuff and the strikeouts. Looking forward to seeing more of him, too.
Camden Yards Impressions
OK, I loved, loved, loved everything about Camden Yards. It’s hard to beat our Cathedral in SF with its stunningly beautiful views, but Camden Yards just does everything right. It’s cool. It celebrates the Orioles’ history. It’s comfortable and user-friendly, from the signage to the staff to the restrooms to easy entrances and exits. The sight lines are great. You could see where Pac Bell/AT & T/Oracle got a lot of its inspiration.
There is also a personality and a quirkiness that caught me by delighted surprise. During the National Anthem, as the singer launches into the final bit: “O say, does that…”–the Orioles fans suddenly yell “O!” really loudly (I guess for the “O’s”/Orioles). It’s hilarious.
Before yesterday’s game, they had a moment of silence for the victims of the Friday shooting in nearby Virginia Beach. The PA announcer spoke of “another senseless shooting” and asked us to join in a “moment of reflective silence.” Baltimore is a gritty town that’s a little scary (“The Wire,” anyone?), and I think they take gun violence very much to heart. I also liked that they close-captioned everything the PA announcer said at the bottom of the scoreboard, making it more accessible for those with hearing or oral language comprehension issues.
But the seventh-inning stretch was the kicker. On Friday night, a guy in his Navy uniform came out, and I started rolling my eyes in preparation for “God Bless America,” thinking “Really? It’s not Sunday or Memorial Day.” But instead, he led us in “This Land is Your Land.” On Saturday, another military guy sang “America the Beautiful,” while honoring local volunteers who serve the community. The message at both moments was inclusive–we’re all people in this community/nation together. And then, after “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” they always play John Denver singing “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” and everyone claps and sings along with tremendous enthusiasm. And OK, it’s the state song of West Virginia, which borders Maryland, but we weren’t in West Virginia. We were in the middle of downtown Baltimore. Anyway, it all added up to a warm-hearted, good-natured, and fun experience.
If you ever find an excuse to get here–maybe during a trip to DC, or on the way to see the Richmond Flying Squirrels?–I highly recommend it. There are a half-dozen major hotels within a 10-minute walk and plenty of places to eat and drink. The Inner Harbor is three blocks up from the park, with boat rides and frozen custard stands and museums and an aquarium.
TWG Outing in July!
When/where: Friday, July 26, Raley Field in West Sacramento (for the River Cats game), first pitch 7:05, fireworks to follow
Why: Totalfan62 and his wife are making the trip from Atlanta to California for his high school reunion. He’s going to see the Giants at Oracle for the first time, and I’m arranging the River Cats game for us and any other TWGers who want to join. We already have 11-12 people “in”–let’s make it more!
To RSVP: Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how many tickets you’d like (or any other information you need). I’ll arrange tickets for the group and get them distributed. I’ll probably get them around mid-June and will leave several more reminders in the comments section as we get closer.
Giants at Orioles, 10:05 a.m. Mays time, Orioles Park at Camden Yards
Jeff Samardzija (2-4, 3.83 ERA) vs. Gabriel Ynoa (0-1, 5.40 ERA)
Actual conversation between us and an Orioles fan on Friday night.
Orioles fan, loudly: LET’S GO, GIANTS!
OF: I want that first pick next year!
Us: Oh, yeah? Well, we’ll see, buddy. Our team SUCKS.
OF, smiling: I think we got this.
Anyway, the Giants can take the series with a win today and go 2-0 in June. And we’re not getting that first pick in 2020, so we might as well hope the Giants win. I’ll be on a flight back to California during most of the game, so I’ll need the rest of you to bring it home. Lefty out.