Greek Giant

That’s what Gabe Kapler called the Giants 6-5, 10-inning win yesterday over the Guardians to take two of three games from the Clevelanders and make some progress in the National League Wild Card race. Nobody every confused Gabe Kapler for a brilliant orator but his words were apropos. Yesterday’s win was at times ugly, ehausting, exhilarating and always entertaining. It was baseball at its worst and best.

The day started very badly for the Giants when Kyle Harrison gave up a four-spot in the top of the first inning. Two of those runs came on a Jose Ramirez homer off a 92 MPH cutter/Slider up in the zone. The other two came on a hideously ugly throwing error by Casey Schmitt on a routine play with two outs and runners on second and third. All Casey has to do is make an easy throw to first and Harrison and the Giants are out of the first inning giving up only two. Instead, his low throw skipped by J. D. Davis in a rare start at first. Let me go out on a limb and say both Brandon Belt and LaMonte Wade Jr. likely make that scoop. But since Davis never plays first he was not ready for it. And just like that it was 4-zip Cleveland before the Giants even got to swing their lumber.

But the boys battled back in the bottom of the first inning thanks to a two-out RBI single by Luis Matos, who is quietly becoming one of my favorite Giants. Matos would advance to second on the hit when the Cleveland right fielder Laureano over-ran the play and allowed the ball to skip by him. Matos was nearly thrown out at second because he made the assumption, incorrectly, that the play would be fielded cleanly by the outfielder and it wasn’t. Patrick Bailey walked to load the bases with two outs but J. D. Davis grounded out to the Guardians pitcher, Logan Allen who reversed and used his backside to knock the come-backer down. It took him a while to locate the ball but he recovered to make the throw to first to get the out. But it was a terrible throw in the dirt that was scooped up by the Cleveland first baseman. If he does not make that scoop it’s a 4-3 game with the Giants rallying. All this action and terrible defense took place in one inning!

In the top of the second inning the Guardians added another run on a Naylor single (The Giants could not get him out for most of the series!). But those were all the runs the Guardians would get off Harrison and the rest of the Giants staff. Kyle Harrison ended up pitching four innings allowing seven hits and three earned runs with one walk and three strikeouts. It was not his best day and it likely will not be his worst. It was, in short, unimpressive for a highly-talented rookie against a fairly light-hitting team.

Alex Wood was one of the stars of the game. He came in to pitch to start the fifth inning and would go four innings total allowing only three hits and striking out one. He did not allow a run. Neither did Tyler Rogers or Camilo Doval, who would earn his sixth win of the year. Gabe Kapler brought his closer in to pitch the final inning and a third in a tie game because every game is a must-win for the Giants. Bravo Kapler. He has to manage every game as a postseason elimination game, more or less.

The Guardians threatened to score many more times but each time the Giants pitchers would find ways to avert disaster. There was a nice double play turned by Paul DeJong, who can still play a very good shortstop.

The big hit in the game for the Giants was J. D. Davis’s three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning after Pederson reached on a hit-by-pitch and Patrick Bailey singled (boy did the Giants miss him!). The homer was a sky-high affair that just barely cleared the left wall and brought the 12,000 Giants fans to a euphoria not seen since… well, the last time the Giants won.

In the bottom of the 10th inning the Giants won on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by LaMonte Wade Jr. It was not a sure thing and Guardians left fielder Steven Kwan, a player I enjoy watching, made a superb throw that nearly nailed Patrick Bailey at the plate. It should not have been that close but Kwan is a gamer and a great all-around player.

The celebration ensued!

A Word About Defense

As I watched the condensed game this morning I kept shaking my head at the horrible defense in the game. The Giants were terrible with Cleveland not far behind. There were only two official errors but trust me, this was a slopppppppy game to watch from a defensive standpoint. Want an example beyond the two I already mentioned? In one inning a Guardian hit a ball that looked like a routine single to right center. The batter ran hard all the way and made the outfielder throw to second. The throw was on the money but because Thairo Estrada assumed the play was a single and his back was to the runner, he was way out of position when he fielded the throw and just like that the Guardians had a runner on second. They took extra bases all day long on the Giants. There were other classic fundamental mistakes I could point out but the bottom line is for much of yesterday’s game the Giants looked disinterested and just plain bored. They played very badly. That they won is a testament to their resilience.

The win gives the Giants a record of 75-71. It also puts them only 1/2 game behind the Reds and the Diamondbacks for the final Wild Card spot. The Giants are tied with the Marlins for that honor.

Today’s Game

The Giants begin a four-game seres in Colorado tonight. Logan Webb and Chase Anderson are listed as the starting pitchers. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 PM, Denver time.