Johnny Black

Hola, Giants fans. It’s been a disappointing weekend of Giants losses South of the Border. Going into the weekend I loved the idea of this series. I loved the choice of teams by MLB. Watching the games it sure appears as if the Mexico City fans enjoyed their taste of Major League Beisbol. I saw little kids and men and women of varying ages with huge smiles on their faces grabbing foul balls. I heard the electric music and the overall vibe I got through my TV here in Cole Valley is that it was a fun time for all, except for the Giants pitching staff.

Too bad about the Giants though.


You knew it was going to be a long weekend when Giants Manager Gabe Kapler (Aka “Zorro) got lost on the way to the ballpark before Friday’s workout because he wanted to take Public Transit. Kapler, a man of the people, as Javy Lopez would say, picked the wrong time and the wrong city for such an adventure. At least he dressed the part!

I knew I picked the wrong weekend to stop drinking Margaritas.

Yesterday’s Game

It’s ironic that the Giants lost yesterday’s game in Mexico City to the Padres on a Texas Leaguer. The 6-4 setback followed the 16-11 slugfest on Saturday to add up to a Giants sweep at the hands of the San Diego Padres at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú.  More ironic still is that the two-run, seeing eye blooper that fell between Thairo Estrada and Mike Yastrzemski came off the bat of Matt Carpenter, the former Cardinal who could not get a job in professional baseball a little over a year ago. That hit in the bottom of the eighth inning was nobody’s fault. It came in a tough at bat on a high fastball off Camilo Doval. It found a spot on the grass, two runs scored.

Ball game.

You could say the Giants deserved better after taking a 4-0 lead early on, thanks to a lead off blazing homer down the right field line by LaMonte Wade Jr.; a second inning homer to the opposite field in right by J. D. Davis, and a booming, moonshot of a long ball off the bat of Mitch Haniger in the top of the fourth inning. You could say that but you would be wrong. The Giant bats went down quietly after those runs. Perhaps a few too many tequilas were had the night before?

Here is the Wade dinger:

Mr. Haniger goes deep:

Yaz would add an RBI single in the top of the fourth as well when the Giants had runners on first and third with nobody out. All those homers and that threat came off Padre starter You Darvish, who, for my money, is having the strangest career of any pitcher in MLB history, minimum two seasons.  One start and one inning he looks unbeatable, un-hittable and simply invincible. The next batter or the next start he looks like he’s throwing batting practice to the ’27 Yankees or the 2012 Giants.

He’s a head-scratcher if there ever was one. On this day he was both mortal and god-ike against the Giants. After allowing those four early runs he rebounded to hold the Giants scoreless the rest of the way through six innings and he never walked a batter. You have to admire Darvish’s perseverance. This was a gut-check game for him as a starting pitcher and he checked his gut and got the job done by not allowing any more runs. This is what tough and resilient competitors do when they are not at their best. On a team with so much hitting prowess like the Padres, a starting pitcher could get away with a rough early outing and still find a way to help his team win. They sound a bit like baseball cliches but on this day they were true.

As for the walks…Why do I mention walks? Because for the first time since I can remember both both Darvish and Cobb (five innings, three runs) completed their starts without allowing a walk. In fact, there was only one walk in the game and that came from Camilo Doval in the bottom of the eighth inning who was pitching in a save situation because the Giants really needed this win and Gabe Kapler managed like it. In Saturday’s loss the Giant staff gave up ten walks, many of which scored. I’m too lazy to look it up but you get the idea. With a team, again, like the Padres, you just cannot issue so many walks and expect to reach the handshake line.

In Mexico City, at 7,000 feet elevation and the balls flying out of the park faster than you can say “adios, pelota”, that’s a key part of any pitcher’s strategy and that stat helps account for the fact that this was more like a classic, close, tense baseball game.

Alex Cobb pitched well enough to win. In fact he was cruising until the top of the fifth when Austin Nola hit a two-run homer to wake up the Padres. Later that inning Juan Soto would hit a two-out RBI single to make the game 4-3. Until that point Cobb had a superb fastball and a curveball that was good enough. Until that fifth inning Cobb was picking up right where he left off on his last start (a complete game shutout). But on this day, a deep Padres line up and an unusually high altitude for a baseball field would eventually get to him.

Cobb’s last recorded out in the bottom of the fifth inning was a strikeout. It was the 1000th of his career.

Congratulations to Alex!

Scott Alexander and John Brebbia pitched three up, three down sixth and seventh innings respectively and from there we had hope that the Giants pen would seal the deal. They could not. It happens. The Giant bats were quieted by the Padres pen and that was that.

To make matters worse, Yaz was hurt while diving to get the Carpenter hit. At press time there was no word yet on the severity of the injury but it is listed as a hamstring issue. Mike is expected to be evaluated today and perhaps placed on the Injured list.

Saturday’s Game

You could write a considerably large work of non-fiction that sounds like fiction about Saturday’s 16-11 Padre win over the Giants in the first ever Major League Baseball game played in Mexico. There were eleven home runs in the game, combined. Yes, “11”. It’s not a typo! Back to back homers took place four times, an MLB record. The weak pitching, superb (mostly, because Tatis Jr. hit a homer that would be an easy out in any other MLB park) hitting and high altitude makes for a display of runs that harkens back to the old days when… well, hell if I know but you get the idea! It was a weird game from start to finish and the Giants blew another lead, this time holding an 11-10 margin in the bottom of the 7th inning. The Padres had just too much firepower on their side and the mismatch of San Diego slugging against the San Francisco bullpen was the difference in the game. I really do not want to recap the whole game because I do not want to make your Monday any more depressing than it already is, Giants fans. But let’s say that game was just crazy.

The Giant home runs came from Brandon Crawford, Mitch Haniger, LaMonte Wade Jr., David Villar and Blake Sabol. Crawford’s travelered an estimated 485 feet to left center, deep into the stands, and may have been the longest home run of his career, adjusted for altitude inflation.

What about the Giants pitching in this game, you ask?

Don’t ask!

The Giants pitching allowed ten walks in the game, as I stated above. Every pitcher making an appearance except Taylor Rogers allowed a run. Sean Manaea, the starter, allowed five runs, four earned, in two innings of work. He was also hit by a scalded line drive, on his knee. It looked very bad but he was able to stay in the game. Jakob Junis relieved him and allowed five runs of his own in 2 2/3 innings. Despite those freak show outings the Giants battled back at the plate to take the lead but Brebbia, Alexander and Tyler Rogers were not good enough on this day against a San Diego Club with a ridiculously loaded line up that may eventually need to be broken up by the Commissioner of Baseball or the United States Congress.

For a team to have Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts and Nelson Cruz in the same line up is just unfair to the opposition. Even with Sunday’s win the Padres are only 15-14 at this point of the season and one has to see them as either the greatest under-achievers of all time or a team that will eventually figure it out and just bludgeon teams as the season progresses.

Speaking of Nelson Cruz, did you know that he has over 462 home runs in his career? Raise your hand if he was the player you picked on that 2010 Rangers team to have a productive career up to and through 2023. That’s what I thought!

But I digress.

The Black Monday© Weekend Wrap

Just admit it, Giants fans. The Padres are just better, bigger, deeper, and stronger. When facing the likes of Sean Manaea, it’s a mis-match of Mexican proportions. When Alex Cobb is at his best, or even pretty good, the Giants have a shot. The equalizer against deep, talented line ups is superb pitching. The Giants never got that this weekend and that’s why they were swept. The bullpen blew two late leads. It’s simply too much to expect the likes of Alexander, the Rogers, etc. to shut out the Padres line up for long, especially when the games are contested in a 7,000 foot bandbox that makes pop-ups home runs and routine line drives sail over the wall. That’s my take on this series.

The Giants were just out-talented.

It’s a bummer. Nobody likes to hear their team is just not good enough. It’s also a kind of quasi-journalistic cop-out to come to such a dead-end conclusion. But you read Together We’re Giants because you want your Giants truths unvarnished and untainted by the myth of “journalistic neutrality”. That’s what brings you hear and that’s what I feel like writing.

Where does this weekend’s series leave the team going forward? That’s another question. The Giants are now 11-16, four games behind the Bums and DBacks in the NL West. They have lost three in a row after a five-game winning streak. They have significant injuries in Alex Wood and Yaz (maybe) on the shelf. After 27 games we can still say it’s too soon to write the story on the season but what we do know is this Giants club does not appear to have the pitching quality or the pitching depth to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Dodgers or the Padres. It means their best hope is to play well defensively and get enough quality pitching starts to keep the games winnanble and interesting, beating bottom-feeders. The Giants also need to acknowledge the elephant in the room: They need Logan Webb to start winning games.