Greek Giant

For the first time since 2016 The Giants won a series in Miami. Yesterday afternoon the boys from San Francisco secured a 3-1 victory in a very exciting game. Keaton Winn earned his first win of the season against three losses. He pitched exceptionally well going six innings, allowing only four hits, one walk, one run and recording four strikeouts. The lone run he gave up was an opposite field homer by Jorge de la Cruz on a low and away slider. It was a very good pitch but de la Cruz demonstrated tremendous extension and power. He is a player to watch for the Marlins and he happens to be their hottest hitter at the moment.

The Giants scored first in the top of the second inning thanks to a Thairo Estrada double down the third base line after a Jorge Soler single. With Soler racing from third and Marlins left fielder Nick Gordon having difficulty picking up the ball cleanly as it rolled around the corner, The Giants were able to plate their first run in what I consider one of the most exciting plays in baseball: the runner on first scoring on a double.

The Giants would take the lead in the top of the seventh inning when Nick Ahmed hit into a double play with runners on first and third with nobody out. This was no routine double play, ladies and gents. With the Marlins infield in for a tie game Luis Arraez was playing close to up the middle when Ahmed hit a hard smash past the pitcher that looked like it would be an RBI single. But Arraez made a sensational diving back-handed stop on a short hop no less then with full extension touched second base and threw to first base for the double play. It was one of the best double plays I have ever seen and it prevented a big inning for the Giants.

And they say Arraez is all hit, no field!

The Giants added an insurance run on Matt Chapman’s opposite field double down the right field line in the top of the eighth inning that scored Jung Hoo Lee from second base. That made it 3-1 and the bullpen held firm with Miller, Rogers and Doval recording shutouts in their inning of work. Camilo Doval earned his fourth save of the year with a three-up, three down stress-free ninth, just the way I like them. Tyler Rogers had some traffic after giving up two hits in the eight but the Giants would turn a big double play to quash the threat from the fishy Miamians.
Here is Thario’s double:

Here is the Chapman double:

Patrick Bailey threw out a runner trying to steal second. His throwing mechanics and footwork make me cringe but the results are what matter.

Keaton Winn Looks Legit

I was watching Keaton Winn’s outing fairly closely when I was trying to think of the pitcher he reminds me of. I may guess and say Ryan Vogelsong. He has firm command of his mid-90s fastball but he is not really the type A power pitcher. Instead he spots his pitches in and out very well and rarely leaves the slider over the plate. He has good composure for such a young player and he looks ready to have a strong season provided his arm is 100% healthy. In yesterday’s game he was very efficient throwing 81 pitches in six innings with 53 of those going for strikes. It was a strong outing and one we should all be encouraged by.

The Giants Are Taking Too Many Pitches

There is a virus, an off-shoot of the Analytics-first approach to baseball, that has struck and lingered with the Giants hitters. That virus is called being too passive. The Giants are taking way too many pitches, I mean fat meatball pitches right down the middle, in every count and it is inexcusable and an example of their failed organizational philosophy prioritizing working counts over you know, actually hitting the baseball hard and not striking out! It stinks and it is a big reason the Giants are terrible with runners on base. In yesterday’s game they had at least two caught looking strikeouts that I can recall. Patrick Bailey was called out on strikes on a slider by Marlins pitcher Trevor Rogers, who by the way was very good. Bailey complained about the border line call but it was on the line of the strike zone and just too close to take. It is one of the fundamental tenets of baseball, from TBall to the Show, that a hitter must do everything, at all costs, to avoid striking out and put the ball in play. Very few hitters understand or execute this philosophy today. Guys like Pete Rose and Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Wade Boggs did it. Today, with Analytics favoring the theory that what must be prioritized is working counts and looking for your pitch to drive for a home run in every count, neglects this tenet and hitters, and baseball suffer for it. Baseball is lesser for it and it is a disaster.

Last week Grant Brisbee wrote about the Giants taking fastballs right down the middle. He did not address the larger issue at play but his article was on point in pointing out that a recent stat showed the Giant hitters taking 43 first pitch fastballs, all right down the middle. They were the number one ranked team in MLB at taking first pitch strikes. It’s a terrible stat and an illustration of a flawed organizational approach to hitting. The Giants lead the league in called third strikes and the second place team is far behind them. Read the article and the comments and you will see that I am not alone in my view.

As a hitter your primary duty is to look for a pitch and drive it, in any count with the exception of when a batter has two strikes. That’s when he must think about contact and look fastball and react to soft stuff. This means you must be ready from the first pitch. That first pitch from a good pitcher may be the first and last good hittable pitch you ever see. By always taking that pitch, a la LaMonte Wade Jr. and others, you are usually putting yourself in a 0-1 hole and often letting go by you the best pitch to whack in your at bat. This philosophy over-values working a pitcher at the expense of aggression and taking the initiative in an at bat, a very important mindset for both home run hitters and table-setters. When you give up the initiative by going up to take pitches, you have usually already failed. The Giants with their disastrous record with men on base, are a case in point. Now that the whole world knows the Giants approach hitting in this manner no wonder pitchers are starting counts with first pitch fastballs right down the middle to gain leverage in the count and maintain the initiative. Every at bat is a battle over initiative. When your hitting philosophy is to relinquish it then you already failed.

This is an issue I would address were I the hitting coach. It needs to change and it is costing the Giants, who are not good enough or deep enough in their lineup to let every pitcher dictate the at bat. Passivity never works in sports, especially not in baseball. Hoping your pitcher wears down and throws many pitches out of the zone is not a winning philosophy unless perhaps you are facing a pitcher with obvious control issues.

Today’s Game

The Giants return home to face the Diamondbacks. Tonight’s game begins at 6:45 PM at Willie Mays Field. Arizona will send Ryne Nelson to face Logan Webb.