Johnny Black

Happy Monday Giants fans. What a weird and wacky weekend it has been for our Giants. On Friday night, after their second-straight spanking at home by the Mets, we are all ready to write the obituary on this 2023 season. There was open talk about canning Zaidi and Kapler. The commentariat in Giants Nation was seething.

Fast forward to two wins!

Are the Giants back from the dead? Are they doing their Lazarus impression?

Yesterday’s Game

Thanks to last night’s exciting 5-4 triumph over the National League New Yorkers the Giants won two consecutive games for the first time this season. What a win it was. The Giants took an early 2-0 lead with single runs in the bottom of the first and second innings With Joc Pederson smoking an RBI single in the first (in his first at bat back from the IL) and Thairo Estrada hitting a booming homer in the second inning. Estrada’s hit came on a big loopy curveball off Tyler Megill. Thairo eats those pitches for lunch.

Then the Mets answered with a run in the top of the third and two in the top of the fourth to take a one-run lead, 3-2 off Ross Stripling, who would end up pitching 3 2/3 innings and allowing three runs, two earned, on this day. Speaking of Ross, he was not sharp. He retired only eight of the seventeen batters he faced and ya gotta think the Giants were hoping for more value when they gave Stripling a contract worth $25 million over two years! Ouch! Kevin Gausman, he ain’t.

The Giants countered with a run in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game on an RBI knock by Brett Sabol before winning it with a clutch hit by Yaz in the bottom of the eighth inning.

His double came on a fastball on the outside corner that he yanked into his power alley in right-center with Joc Pederson on first base and one out. Mike Yaz was only the second Giant to reach base off the Mets bullpen, at the time. Pederson read the hit beautifully and motored around second, and third and slid well ahead of the throw at the plate to score the winning run. It was superb base-running by Joc and example of his baseball acumen.

I remember the days when he was a Dodger rookie. He looked like he was going to be a perennial MVP. It was that speed and baseball smarts along with his power that gave me that impression. I wonder what would happen if he got into slightly better shape? But I digress.

The Giants and Camilo Doval would hold down the Mets in the top of the ninth inning and that was all she wrote for the New Yorkers and their national tv audience on ESPN. The win gave the Giants some momentum and confidence after a very ugly first two games.

It needs to be said the Giants made two more errors yesterday, one by Stripling who gaffed a come-backer. The Giant pitchers have five errors this season and Brett Sabol has three catcher interference calls to account for three more of the Giants 17 total errors this season, second-most in baseball.

Saturday’s Game

The story of Saturday’s 7-4 Giants win was Logan Webb, The Ace looked like an ace for the first time this season as he pitched seven sharp innings allowing only two runs and recording eight strikeouts against one walk and five hits. That effort added up to the first win of the season for Webb. It was a start the Giants needed as they were able to rest their bullpen middle relievers enough to restore order in the pitching staff.

The big hit was Brandon Crawford’s Three-Run homer in the bottom of the first inning, the 100th splash homer at Willie Mays Field. It came as part of a four-run first that gave the Giants fans something to get excited about before they could even bite into their crab sandwiches.

Wilmer Flores hit his third homer in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Scott Alexander worked the eighth inning and allowed a run. Camilo Doval also allowed a run in the ninth in his inning of work. Because he allowed the fourth run he could not get the save.  This was, according to Logan Webb, the best game the Giants played all year. I am inclined to agree. For once the team played as designed with their ace, acing and their bats slugging as the defense was defending. Everything was clicking, more or less and it added up to a desperately-needed Giant “W”.

Impending Roster Moves

The Giants will need to make some roster moves in the next day or two as Austin Slater and Mitch Haniger are both expected to return to active duty and make their season debuts. For Haniger it will also be his Giants debut. The word on my street is Darrin Ruff and Brett Wisely will be sent packing to Sacto with a “thank you” note written by C.J. himself. That’s “Charles Johnson” for those of you just tuning in.

The Defense Rests

Raise your hand if you predicted that J. D. Davis (3 runs saved) and David Villar (2 runs saved) would be the most valuable Giants of the season so far in terms of their defense. It’s true. It’s interesting. Lefty and GG have already written about Davis’s work at the hot corner. It turns out we need to give Villar some props as well for his glovework at third and second. If the kid could cut down on some of those strikeouts I see a bright future for him.

The Black Monday© Weekend Wrap

With the Cardinals coming to town for a four-game series it appears the Giants are in a good place following two wins in a row and a series split against the Mets. I’m not so sure. I think the Giants have serious starting pitching problems with Alex Wood on the shelf and Gabe Kapler’s swing-man, opener addiction that uses arms like inter-changeable socks. I just do not see the logic of such a move. Why not let Manaea and Stripling both have two or three turns in the rotation and get their rhythm? With regards to the return of Slater and Haniger the skeptic in me says “Let’s see how long they stay healthy.” It’s not exactly like either player is Mike Trout so all those Giant fans expecting this team to suddenly peel of twelve wins in a row because of their return may be in for a disappointment.

At this stage of the season the Giants are 8-13, three games behind the Diamondbacks and Dodgers who are both 12-11 in what appears to be, for the moment, a very mediocre division. But don’t expect it to stay this way much longer. I expect the Dodgers to be running away with first place within two weeks. I will save my deadline deal-making predictions until May but right now we are kind of in a wait-and-see place psychologically, Giants fans. Maybe Slater and Haniger will bring more wins? Maybe Stripling will find a fastball? Maybe Crawford will get on a roll?

All I know is Kevin Gausman is killing it in Toronto; Madbum got DFA’d and Thairo Estrada is the Giants MVP so far this season.