It’s been a week of great nostalgia in the Lefty household, starting with our wedding anniversary on June 25 (which we’re happy to share with Tim Lincecum’s second no-hitter in 2014 and Brownie’s birthday) and culminating with moving out of our home of nearly 21 years and yesterday receiving the keys to our new one.
We’re not actually into the new yet, and I’m writing today from the lobby of the Hyatt Place on the UC Davis campus, but that’s a story for another day.
Enough about me. Let’s segue into the Giants, who hit the halfway mark in their season last night. They finished the first half with a 35-46 record, and that projects out to…oh, never mind. It doesn’t fit my theme. They are also 13-12 in June with two games to play, but to achieve a winning record for the month, they’ll have to get past either Zack Greinke or Robbie Ray. In hindsight, it might have been better to get more than three hits in that game started by the rookie with a 6 ERA in AAA, but oh, well.
Last night’s win, the Giants’ first in five tries at home vs. the Diamondbacks this year, was a good mixture of the old and the new.
*Notice the title of the post wasn’t “Out with the old and in with the new.” Prepositions matter, people.
Out of the old
Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford had three hits last night. For Buster, it was his first three-hit game since last August. For Crawford, the third hit was his career 1000th.
— From the Clubhouse (@SFGAuthentics) June 29, 2019
Buster was the subject of two different replay reviews, and he batted .500. In the third inning, he absolutely smoked a ball off the right field wall, and–it’s a double! No, it’s a homer! No, after review, it’s a double! The double scored Belt, but Posey died on second, so the replay cost the Giants a run and Buster an RBI. In the seventh, when Buster was initially called out on a tag play at third base, replay proved him safe–and he then scored from third on an extremely wild pitch.
Anyway, it sure was good to see Buster swinging the bat like that, and as for Crawford, he’s quietly heated up at the plate, hitting .353 over the last week and .308 over the last two weeks. For this season (and the next several to come) to be even moderately bearable, we need both of those “old” guys operating a lot better than they did in the first half.
Into the new
The most interesting storylines in the month of June involve several of last night’s heroes. Shaun Anderson had another solid start, picking up the win with 5.1 innings pitched and two runs allowed. Anderson kicked off the month of June with his first major league win in Baltimore on June 1, and in six starts, he’s gone 3-1 with a 3.47 ERA and averaged over six innings per start. And if that sounds like “solid mid-rotation starter” to you, you’re underestimating him: that ERA, if he had enough innings to qualify, would put him in the top 15 in the NL. Anderson is a good reminder that a shrewd July flip of an expiring asset (2017 free-agent-to-be Eduardo Nunez, for whom the Giants received Anderson from Boston) can really pay off down the line.
Two other newbies, Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson, also made big contributions last night. Dickerson got the “Dickerson hit chant” (hat-tip: Mike Krukow) going early with this bomb.
Dickerson picked up an RBI single later, and yes, the “hit chant” was going in the dugout and in the stands. He has 14 RBIs in a week, which is…a pretty good week, I’d say.
They don't have to move the fences in. They just need a couple more Alex Dickersons.
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) June 29, 2019
Mike Yastrzemski had cooled off a bit over the last week, but he had two hits last night, and in the last 30 days has hit five homers (starting with his first major league homer in Baltimore on May 31). For a 2019 Giants outfielder, Yaz is practically a veteran by now, but he actually just made his major league debut a little over a month ago, on May 25.
In with the new…someday
Now that the short-season leagues are fully in swing, it’s getting to be a lot of work keeping up with the Giants’ prospects. There are the four full-season affiliates, two AZL rookie league teams, Salem-Keizer, and the DSL Giants. But there were some really intriguing performances by minor leaguers this week, and I thought I’d highlight a few.
- Alex Canario: Canario is a 19-year-old Dominican centerfielder who was signed for a modest $60,000 in 2016. He immediately caught scouts’ attention with a strong DSL season in 2017 and had a more modest go-round in the AZL in 2018. This year he’s on the AZL Giants Orange team, and so far he’s destroying the league. In 41 plate appearances, he’s hitting .410/.452/1.000/1.452 with six homers–which not only leads the league but is more homers than ten teams in the league have hit! Canario has actually put his Giants Orange teammate Marco Luciano, the Giants’ #3 prospect, in the shadows for the moment.
- Sean Hjelle: Hjelle was the Giants’ second-round draft pick in 2018, and he’s having a fantastic first full pro season. Between two levels (A/A+), he’s pitched 80.1 innings (16 starts), with a 2.35 ERA and 84 strikeouts. A bit surprisingly, he’s doing even better in the hitter-friendly Cal League than he was in the pitcher-friendly South Atlantic League. He’s been dominant in San Jose so far, and it will be interesting to see if the Giants are aggressive in moving him along even further before the season ends. It could be nice to see how he does in a month of AA starts. After Conner Menez (who has now moved into the Giants’ top-30 prospects, as I predicted in this space last week), he may be the next homegrown starting pitcher to crack the major league rotation in a year or so. (I guess there’s still Logan Webb, too.)
- Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos: Both have slumped a bit lately, but both had good games last night (two hits for Ramos and three hits for Bart), perhaps celebrating the news that they were named to the Futures Game in Cleveland a couple weeks from now.
- Sam Selman: I’ve mentioned this lefty reliever before, and he’s continuing to have a dominant season (AA/AAA). Since coming to the River Cats last month, he’s pitched 36 innings and has an ERA of 1.74, a WHIP of 0.65, and 51 strikeouts. For the year he has 64 strikeouts in 38 innings and a .117 batting average against. Selman has long been a high-strikeout guy who walked too many hitters (lefties–SMH 🤦♀️), so his K/BB ratio of 64/9 for the season is encouraging indeed. Selman is 28 years old and was a 2012 draftee out of Vanderbilt like Mike Yastrzemski.
- Zach Green (note: it’s “Zach” with an “h,” not a “k”): Green is a right-handed hitting 1B/3B playing in Sacramento, his hometown. Last night he hit his 17th home run, and June is not over yet.
- Honorable mention: Chris Shaw, Austin Slater, Marco Luciano
Change is coming
With June almost in the books, that means–it’s almost July, almost the All-Star break, almost the trade deadline. The team that finishes June will not be the same team that finishes July. There will be anxiety, intrigue, excitement, and heartbreak.
Change can be hard sometimes, but it’s OK! Here at TWG, we’ve got each other’s backs, and I’ll be there for you…/ducks
🎶 I'll be there for you 🎶
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) June 27, 2019
Don’t like that one? OK, how about this one to take us out?
Just like the 2019 Giants, I’m halfway there. Lefty out.