Greek Giant

Yes, you read that headline correctly. The Giants are shift-disturbers and that opposite field hitting approach was the difference on this night in St. Louis. The boys from San Francisco recorded, to my count, four shift-beating hits through the infield that if the position players were playing where they should be, the balls are caught and the outcome is a Cardinals win instead of a victory for the Giants.

The Giants won a game that had a playoff thrill to it with twists and turns and finally a rally and a nearly-blown save. It was a heart-attack win, 4-3, against a struggling but talented Cardinals team in St. Louis. With two outs in the top of the seventh inning the Giants were trailing 3-2 and things were looking a bit bleak in the Midwest for Giants fans. Just at that critical moment, Wilmer Flores drew a walk before J. D. Davis hit an opposite field bouncing ball past the shift where the second baseman should be playing. That would be the second of four shift-beating hits for the Giants on the night. If the Cardinals play a standard infield defense on any of them they win the game. Imagine that!

Wilmer Flores, an under-rated base runner moved to third on the Davis single and suddenly it’s first and third with two outs and Mitch Haniger up. Haniger promptly hit a hard grounder to the glove side of right-handed playing first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

If Goldy is playing a proper first base that’s a routine play. Because he was shifting towards center the Haniger hit tied it as Flores scored easily.

The Giants took the lead in the top of the eight inning on a one out double by Patrick Bailey, a beautiful line drive to left center field that Cardinals left fielder George Walker valiantly cut off from getting to the wall. But because he was so deep and his momentum was taking him to center Bailey was able to cruise into second with a double to set up the heroics of Brandon Crawford who hit a single right to the shortstop position.

But, once again, because of the Cardinals shift with DeJong playing on top of the second base, Bailey raced around third and scored the winning run, ahead of Walker’s throw.

The Giants started the scoring with two runs in the top of the third inning. With Austin Slater on third (he reached on an infield single on a call that was initially ruled out but was overturned) and Estrada on second who reached on a hit by pitch and advanced on a wild pitch (a key play in the inning), J. D. Davis hit a hot grounder down the line at third that Nolan Arenado fielded on his backhand. On that critical moment Arenado made a judgement call to throw to first and get the sure out, generally the correct choice. But, on the play Austin Slater, rather than run hard and commit to going home, decided to turn his head completely around to watch the play. That momentary lapse of reason slowed his momentum enough, in fact, by a LOT, that if Arenado had fired home, the Cardinals get Slater.

Memo to Austin: Run the bases! Don’t be a spectator.

Now with two outs Mitch Haniger roped a double down the left field line.

It’s 2-0 Giants. The Cardinals would take the lead in the game on a two-run homer by Paul Giant-Killer Goldschmidt after Paul DeJong hit a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth. Both blows came of floating sinker/slurves by Logan Webb down the middle. They had “hit-me” written all over them.

Other than those mistakes Webb pitched a solid game and earned the win since the Giants scored when he was still the pitcher of record after finishing the bottom of the seventh inning, his last of the game. On this night Webb allowed seven hits, no walks and recorded six strikeouts to go with the three runs allowed. Note that “No Walks” line, a key ingredient in this winning recipe.

Camilo Doval pitched in and out of trouble in his 1 1/3 innings of work to get the save, his 17th of the season. It was a thriller in St. Louis and a hard-earned win for the Giants that included a beautiful throw to second base by Patrick Bailey to get George Walker trying to steal in the bottom of the third inning.

Way to go kid!

Tonight’s Game

Game two of the series is tonight with Cobb facing Flaherty at 6:45 PM in St. Louis.