Johnny Black

Sunday’s Game

As the Giants were down 1-0 going to the bottom of the eight inning in yesterday’s series-ending game after losing on Friday and Saturday, I was about to write this team’s obituary, after the ninth game of the season! But the that magical, illogical, wonderlicious eighth frame happened and the Giants came back to win 3-1 and salvage a game against the lowly Royals, a team who may not be a bottom-feeder anymore if the pitching they showed the Giants is any indication of their talent on the mound.

Bryce Johnson scored on a wild play following a double down the left line line and just inside the third base bag by Wilmer Flores. Johnson was stealing on the play and actually slid before he popped up and realized he should keep running, and run he did. Bryce should have held at third but would end up scoring on a super duper close play at home after the Flores double took a Philly carom off the left field bullpen wall and bounced between short and left field.

That extra bounce added about one or two more seconds to the play which enabled the Giants to tie the game. Johnson was on board because he singled with one out.

Michael Conforto, the next batter, then slammed a 72 MPH slurveball over the wall in right faster than you can say “Giants avoid the sweep.” It was a stunning turn of events and it gave the Giants their first home win of 2023 after Tyler Rogers earned the save in the ninth inning with a scoreless frame.

Raise your hand if you think Conforto opts out of his Giant contract after this season.

Before I turn my attention to Saturday’s Sh^tshow we need to talk about Anthony Desclafani’s second straight super start. The right hander made his home debut with the Giants in need of a win and he produced a 6 1/3 inning, one run gem in which he struck out seven Royals and did not walk a batter. He was composed and confident the whole game with a beautiful fastball that moved in and out and that was locating where Royals batters did not want it. His start was much-needed as Kris Bubic was one tough lefty facing the Giants. He pitches six shutout innings and made the San Francisco baseball club LTD look like a high school team as he allowed only two hits and struck out nine Giants.

The Giants are striking out waaaaaaaaay too much, ladies and gents.

Apart from the burpy top of the 4th inning in which Anthony D. allowed a double and an RBI single to Giant-Killer Salvador Perez, Desclafani was lights out and was pulled in the top of the seventh inning after tossing eighty-eight pitches. Job, well done sir.

Saturday’s Game

Saturday’s game was one of the all-time lows in recent Giant losses. Am I being a bit too dramatic? a bit too cranky? NO! I am not. The Giants were looking for their first home win of the season after Friday’s crapfest. In this game they had leads of 4-0 and 5-1 and would end up losing 6-5 thanks to Camilo Doval’s wild pitch in the top of the ninth inning that allowed the winning run to score after Salvador Perez tied the game at 5 with a three-run home run off Ross Stripling in the bottom of the 8th inning. Stripling was struggling at the time of that bomb and he was simply kept in the game too long by Giants Manager Gabe Kapler.

We could blame the Giants skipper for mis-handling the pitching staff on this day. It would be easy too. I sure do not see the logic in using Stripling, unproven at best, in late-inning high-leverage situations with a bullpen full of Brebbias, Rogers and Dovals. I just do not understand it and I presume Kapler answered a few questions regarding this matter at his postgame press conference. I would have loved to watch it but I was unfortunately detained by a few Vodka martinis. Yes, it was thaaat kind of loss.

The game started out promisingly enough with LaMonte Wade Jr hitting his first homer of the season in the bottom of the fourth inning. It was a rocket and it was a splash homer!

The Giants would get three more runs in that inning on an Estrada single, a Crawford single and a Pederson sac fly. Brandon Crawford would add another RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning and it extended the Giants lead to 5-1. Everything appeared to be proceeding according to plan until it wasn’t.

It needs to be said that Sean Manaea pitched a strong game, going six innings and looking mighty impressive in the process, allowing only a lone run. He allowed only three hits with eight strikeouts against one walk in total and it was an auspicious way for the big fella to begin his Giants career. I could see him doing well this season.

One more thing: The big Samoan made history when Blake Sabol was catching:

Black Monday Wrap

With Sunday’s win the Giants are now 4-5, in fourth place in the National League West. They begin a three-game series tonight agains the Dodgers in San Francisco. What can we surmise about this team after nine games?

Hell if I know!

One game they look like juggernauts swatting home runs left and right the next game they look like a high school team getting shut down by the Royals. Defensively the team appears to be the same as last year, maybe a bit better in the outfield. The catching is a major question mark following Roberto Perez’s injury and with Joey Bart still hurt but expected to return any day now. Austin Slater and Mitch Haniger are still on the shelf and Heliot Ramos simply does not appear to be Major League material. Did you see his throw from left yesterday?

What gets my gruff is the Zaidi and Kapler philosophy of baseballing has not appeared to adjust much in light of last season’s failings. I don’t see any attempt at bucking the numbers and letting a hot hitter play the next day, platoons-be-damned. I see over-managing by moving players around the diamond as if they were chess pieces. I see under-managing with the principal example being the Stripling fiasco Saturday.

I guess my point is that it is simply too early to draw too many conclusions obviously, But, we do have nine games of empirical evidence to draw on and right now, this Giants squad is at best, inconsistent and unpredictable, kind of like my black jack game in Vegas. That usually equates to sad faces and walking home with a much lighter wallet. For the Giants we shall have to wait and see. Until next week, Johnny Black is outta here!