Greek Giant

Youth and a strong pitching performance were the key ingredients in the Giants 4-3 victory of the Toronto Blue Jays last night at Willie Mays Field. Yusei Kikuchi is an interesting pitcher. Last night’s performance against the Giants was impressive. This young lefty has some fight in him and wears it proudly. Against the Boys from San Francisco he pitched 7 1/3 innings and allowed only two runs, the first from Heliot Ramos’s solo home run and the second, a long ball from Tyler Fitzgerald. Kikuchi has a mix of pitches and likes to pitch hard stuff up in the zone. It works very well and he has a very good repertoire with his slider/slerve. In fact, Kikuchi was so impressive that he struck out 13 Giants. That’s a huge number in only 7 1/3 innings.

There is no need to recall what a horrific start to his Giants career Mr. Snell is having. But last night, in his second return from a stint on the Injured List, Blake Snell pitched his best game in a creamsickle uniform (The Giants were those City Disconnect monstrosities). He would pitch five innings allowing only one hit, no runs and recording three strikeouts on three walks with many weak outs. He looked quite impressive in controlling his slider and making the fastball look like a slider with the same movement. Only Snell’s heater comes in at 97 MPH. So yes, both starting pitchers pitched very well and this was a good old fashioned pitcher’s duel between two dominant southpaws.

But everything changed once the bullpens took over. When Snell was lifted and replaced by Randy Rodriguez you can just sense the sigh of relief from the Blue Jays hitters. Well Rodriguez did his part in recording a shutout in the top of the sixth. But Ryan Walker gave up a three-run homer run to Ernie Clement in the top of the seventh and just like that the game turned on a dime. It was especially painful to watch after seeing the Giants put runners on first and third with nobody out in the bottom of the sixth, only to see them score zero runs. Tyler Fitzgerald had a rough at bat, striking out for the second time in the game.

But in the bottom of the eighth inning Fitzgerald smashed a home run to left field to make the game 3-2. That gave new life to the Giants. Once Kikuchi was replaced after striking out Brett Wisely, who hit after the Fitzgerald homer, the game would take a different turn. In the bottom of the ninth the Giants started a winning rally that went like this:

  • Flores ground out
  • Bailey single
  • Yaz fly out
  • Fitzgerald Walk

That walk was huge to keep the inning going. That put runners on first and second and set the stage for Brett Wisely’s clutch hit up the middle that tied the game. Then, with runners on first and third and Thairo Estrada at bat, Blue Jay reliever Trevor Richards threw a hard slider into the dirt. The pitch ended up by the first base dug out and went way beyond the catcher’s grasp, more than far enough to  allow Fitzgerald to score the winning run and the Giants to celebrate. It was a fun win.

The Youngsters Come Through, Again!

Make no mistake, Giants fans. We are witnessing a watershed moment in Zaidi’s tenure and in front of our eyes. With the promotion and excellent play of the youngsters like Heliot Ramos (All Star, no less), Luis Matos, Brett Wisely, Tyler Fitzgerald, Patrick Bailey (his first full year as a starter), the Giants not only played much better and won more games, they are now much more fun to watch. The team has more speed, more athleticism, and an essential ingredient for any winner: an infusion of energetic chemistry that translates to winning. These are things that cannot be easily quantified or qualified by they are real and we are seeing the dividends.

Heliot Ramos’s homer last night was a sensational display of power on an inside fastball. He took the pitch to right of center field, on a line, and showed excellent plate coverage and balance against a pitcher that was dealing.

Eight of the nine hits in the game came from young blood (Wisely, Ramos, Matos, Fitz, and Bailey. The young blood is doing it again. I am now 100% convinced that Farhan Zaidi reads TWG and has our suggestions to let the kids play, to heart. Good on him. Good for the Giants!


The Highlights

Tonight’s Game

It’s Chris Bassitt (7-7, 3.34) of the Blue Jays versus Logan Webb (7-6, 3.09) in Game two of the series tonight at 6:45 PM at Willie Mays Field.