If you are going to attempt a steal of second base in the ninth inning down by a run with nobody out you better be sure you can make it. Unfortunately Blake Sabol did. not, right after driving in Patrick Bailey for the Giants first run of the game and cutting the deficit to 2-1. His was not a bad gamble but it’s one that is best made with two outs when the situation is a bit more desperate. What happened after the caught stealing is what hurt. Austin Slater would strike out but an uncharacteristic throwing error on a grounder by Luis Matos would keep the Giants hopes of tying the game alive. If Sabol had not attempted his steal it would have put runners on first and third with one out and Brandon Crawford at the plate. His line out to center probably would have scored the tying run.
That’s baseball and as they say: “Hindsight is 20-20” or something like that.
The three saddest words in the baseball lexicon, says GG.
Keaton Winn’s First Major League Start Is a Smashing Success
There are many other story lines to last night’s game. Keaton Winn made his first start in the Big Leagues and went six innings allowing three hits and the two runs that came off Vladimir Guererro Jr.’s very angry bat (I’ll get to that at bat in a minute). Winn appears to be a mostly two-pitch pitcher with an electric fastball at 97 that dances and moves better than the shakes and bakes, gyrations and ministrations of Cyd Charisse. That’s saying something, trust me!
Winn has a very good splitter and he is able to throw it for a strike. The Blue Jays were mostly overpowered last night. Yes, there were a few hard hit balls (and the Giants played great defense on them) and yes, the homer he gave up to Guererro was almost predictable because Winn was tiring in the sixth. But, he looked solid and the future is bright for this young man.
Guererro’s homer was, from a Blue Jay’s perspective, poetic justice because in his previous at bat by Keaton Winn the Blue Jay slugger was nailed smack dab in the middle of his rib cage with a 97 MPH heater that zeroed in on him like a heat-seeking missile. It was an ugly and very dangerous hit by pitch and Guererro was fuming about it. His next at bat proved to be the difference maker in the game. His body language revealed a vendetta streak big enough to make Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood proud. Vlady Jr. fouled off several pitches of various types and locations before connecting for a looooong home run with a Blue Jays on base on a sinker belt high and down the middle. That homer shattered the tranquility of what was, up to the pitch before, a scoreless pitcher’s duel. It was a tape measure shot and the Blue Jay DH stood at home plate for about five seconds to admire it. Normally such behaviour would call for a beaning in the next at bat in the GG Old School Book of Baseballing. But because of the previous HBP, I could live with it. Winn kind of deserved it and my only question is why Kapler did not remove the rook after the Merrifield walk with such a dangerous hitter coming to the plate in a scoreless game. The fact is I know why acting Manager Kai Correa did not remove Winn and I applaud the spirit behind the move, despite questioning its reasoning.
That walk to Merrifield was only the second in the series by the Giants pitching staff!
Hopefully Winn’s excellent debut as a starter will give him more opportunities and fewer Giant bullpen games down the road.
Ode to Blake Sabol
I like the aggressiveness of the steal attempt all the same and Blake Sabol is a gamer. He is a player, a Farhan Zaidi special, that has become an interesting piece in the Giants winning ways these past two months. I see a bright future for him as a Giant. His catching is much improved, enough to have thrown out a runner trying to steal second last night, on a very close play. Sabol has enough power to be a dangerous hitter and a sweet swing that makes hard contact enough of the time to justify the strikeouts. Thrown in his improved defense in the outfield and at catcher and you have a player molded in the Zaidi philosophy of baseballing: Defensive versatility, capability behind the plate, some pop in the lumber. Sabol was an un-discovered gem overlooked by other MLB teams. Those are your three classic Zaidi ingredients.
Joc Plays Defense!
Last night Joc Pedeson had to play left field because of the injuries to Mitch Haniger and Yaz. And play defense he did. He made three very strong plays, the last of which was a spectacular backhand grab in power alley in left while he was running at full speed. It came off the bat of Whit Merrifield in the bottom of the fifth and if it gets by Joc it’s two or three bases at least in a scoreless game.
J. D. Davis and Gabe Kapler Get Tossed from the Game
J. D. Davis was thrown out of the game after arguing balls and strikes in the end of the top of the third inning. Home plate umpire John Tumpane who had a pretty quick trigger. Gabe Kapler came to Davis’s defense soon after and he got ejected as well. The Giants were hot and the game took on an edgy quality from there.
“I just lost it a little bit, said some words that I probably shouldn’t have said, and it cost us me getting out of the lineup,”
-J. D. Davis
“I never expect umpires to be perfect. do expect them to have patience, though, and I didn’t really feel like he had a lot of patience with J.D.”
Kapler is right. the home plate ump was too quick on the draw.
The Blue Jays Series Was a Match-Up of Similarly Talented Teams
Last night Blue Jay starting pitcher Christ Bassitt dominated the Giants going six innings and striking out twelve Giants in the process of putting up zeroes in each frame. It appeared the Giants were out of whack (yes, it is a technical baseball term) with their timing against Bassitt thanks in part to his rather odd delivery in which he never really pauses and makes an awkward quasi-flailing motion as he delivers his pitches. Bassitt retired the first five outs all on strikeouts. His stuff, quite frankly, did not appear to be as good as Winn’s but his command and selection of pitches was superb. The Giants missed or fouled off many fastballs in the 92-93 MPH range that one would expect would end up in the outfield seats. But credit to Bassitt for using his Ryan Vogelsong style talents to baffle and bemuse the Giant batters with location and a mixture of pitch types.The Giants had no answer for him. In fact this whole series saw very good starting pitching in every game by every pitcher, with the exception of Logan Webb’s bad first inning on Wednesday.
The Blue Jays and the Giants were evenly matched teams with similar approaches to starting pitching and hitting. They both have a balance of power and contact hitting up and down the line up and they both have played strong defense, especially in the outfield. In fact the argument could be made that the blue Jays should have a better record than they do with this roster but that’s a discussion for the Toronto fans.
The three games each had a playoff-intensity aura about them with drama and intrigue.
With the loss the Giants are now 45-36. Since the Dbacks lost as well the San Francsico club is only 2.5 games behind the NL West division leaders.
The Giants begin a three-game series tonight in New York to face the reeling Mets. Alex Cobb comes off the disabled list to start for the Good guys. The Mets will offer Carlos Carrasco in what should be a very good game. First pitch is at 7:10 PM, Big Apple time.