Greek Giant

On his 1975 album Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan sings a beautiful song of love destined to be lost in “A Simple Twist of Fate.” Last night the Giants experienced the baseball version of that song.

In the Giants 10-6 loss to the Blue Jays last night in San Francisco things appeared to be going very smoothly for the hometown heroes in the first two innings with Toronto starter Chris Bassitt pitching his way into disaster. But, this is baseball and you have to play all nine innings, sometimes even more. Bassitt gave up two first inning runs and threw 26 pitches in the opening frame. In the bottom of the second he walked three consecutive batters with two outs to bring Matt Chapman to the plate with the bases loaded, the Giants up 2-0 and the fans looking for a knockout blow from their slugger. But alas, Chapman swung at an 0-1 fastball that was too fast and too high for his bat and he popped it up to end the inning and the threat. My guess is he may have been a bit overanxious but that’s baseball.

While Bassitt was having one of his worst games as a Blue Jay Logan Webb was cruising and doing Logan Webb things: getting quick outs on soft contact when he was not striking out an aggressive Toronto batter. Through four innings Webb was fantastic and did not allow a run. The Giants were leading 2-0 with Bassitt finding his legs, his rhythm, and in a sign of extreme professionalism, pitching excellent baseball. He would end up throwing five innings and allowing three runs while walking four and striking out six. Oh, and he would also get the win because of what happened in the top of the sixth inning. Those two first inning Giant runs came courtesy of singles by Michael Conforto and Thairo Estrada, each with two outs.

After Logan Webb gave up a three-run homer to Ernie Clements in the top of the fifth inning, the second such blast by the Blue Jay third baseman in as many nights in San Francisco, the Blue Jays took a brief 3-2 lead. That homer was phenomenal because it came on a superb Logan Webb splitter down in the zone and in. Usually most mortal hitters miss that pitch. At best, they drive into the ground for a routine out. But Clements dug it out and sent it out of the park, to the shock and dismay of Logan Webb, the Giants ace.

What happened in the top of the sixth inning was worse. The Blue Jays scored six runs with balls in the power alleys, opposite field singles, a weird bounce on a ball hit to Brett Wisely as he was playing in, and various other misfortunes that sent Logan Webb home packing and wondering what on Earth was going on. The inning is too long and too ugly to recap but suffice it to say Logan Webb did not pitch as badly as you might think. A better play here, a more fortunate bounce there and it is a 2-run inning instead of a six run debacle that gave the Jays the lead they would never relinquish. Webb’s final line was eight hits, seven runs allowed, one walk and four strikeouts in five innings.

What a turnaround from the first four innings when Chris Bassitt was floundering and Webb was cruising! I have seen this move before. It happens often. In Major League Baseball when you have a good starting pitcher on the ropes early and you don’t land the knockout punch you may live to regret giving said starter another life. I remember one game in particular in 2016 in San Francisco against the Dodgers. Johnny Cueto surrendered five first inning runs but ever the warrior, would not allow another and pitch five innings in total saving the Giants bullpen and allowing his team to comeback and win the game. It was a great game.

But back to last night’s game.

Solo home runs by Patrick Bailey and Matt Chapman in the ninth were fun, but too little too late. Those came off Blue Jays reliever Bowden Francis and prompted the line of the night from Duane Kuiper: “Four more of those and the Giants are right back in the game.”

With the loss the Giants are now 45-48, ten games behind the dreaded Dodgers and in fourth place in the National League West, a division that, apart from Los Angeles, is filled with three mediocre and perhaps under-achieving teams (Arizona, San Francisco and San Diego) and one team that is ripe for relegation to the Texas League (Colorado). So much for a powerful division of contenders.

The Highlights

and Bravo to the Masons of California

Today’s Game

The third and decisive game of the series takes place today at 12:45 PM. The starting pitchers are listed as Kevin Gausman (6-8, 4.64) against Jordan Hicks (4-5, 3.47) .