Greek Giant

Hayden Birdsong’s First MLB Win!

The lead story of the Giants 5-3 win over the Braves in Atlanta yesterday could easily gave been the big home runs by Heliot Ramos and LaMonte “The Babe” Wade Jr. who hit a round-tripper than was estimated at 443 feet! But instead I wanted to begin this very happy post with words about Hayden Bridsong and his first Major League win in only his second career start. Let’s begin with the fact that he beat the Braves in Atlanta, one of the best teams and one of the toughest parks in the Majors. Yes, he gave up three runs on two homers and nearly a third, but after that rocky bottom of the second and before it, Birdsong was very strong, mixing his changeup, fastball and slider in key situations, particularly with a second and third one out spot in the bottom of the fourth inning. In his five innings of work he only gave up four hits and struck out five Braves while walking two.

Birdsong has demonstrated high quality stuff and first class Major League poise. It’s not enough to have a great arsenal of pitches in the Major Leagues. To be a consistent winner you need mental toughness that I define as such: limiting damage, getting outs and wins when you don’t have your best stuff, getting shutdown innings, keeping your team in the game after giving up early runs, and getting a win when your team really needs it. Birdsong did all of that and more last night, against one of the best offenses in The Show.

You want to hear how critical starting pitching is to win in today’s game and how rarely the Giants get wins from the starters? Read this post from our very own Dr. Lefty (who was quoting Andrew Baggarly):

This might be hard to fathom: Combined with Sunday’s homestand finale against the Dodgers, when Spencer Bivens exceeded all expectations to make it through five innings in a 10-4 victory, the Giants have received a winning decision from a starting pitcher in consecutive games for the first time in almost seven weeks. Kyle Harrison and Jordan Hicks were the last Giants starting duo to win in consecutive games when they accomplished it May 18-19.

Here’s an even wackier factoid: The Giants haven’t gotten a win from a starting pitcher in three consecutive games since May 3-6 of last season. Webb, Sean Manaea and Alex Cobb were the winners over that three-game stretch.

Giants to Braves: So You want to Play Back-to-Back Homers? We Can Play too!

It’s no secret that Atlanta’s Dale Murphy Stadium is one of the best hitter’s parks in the Major Leagues. So when the Braves hit back-to-back homers off Hayden Birdsong in the bottom of the second off the bats of Austin Riley and Sean Murphy (and a top of the wall double by #ForeverGiant Adam Duvall, it would have been easy to think Birdsong was in a little over his head and was probably rushed to the Big Leagues because of the injuries to the Giants pitching staff. But nope, he recovered beautifully and his teammates supported him with back-to-back homers of their own in the top of the fifth inning, first by Jorge Soler on rocket line drive over the left field wall, and then by LaMonte and the aforementioned Ruthian bomb.

Those blasts really made a statement and instilled life back into the Giants while helping their starting pitcher get the win. In the top of the sixth inning the Giants scored the go-ahead run when a hard smash by Luis Matos to third baseman Austin Riley was not fielded cleanly and a run scored. I would have scored that a base hit and RBI, it was hit so hard and Riley was playing in. Nevertheless that made it 3-2 with Birdsong still the pitcher of record.

The Giants added an insurance run in the top of the eighth inning on an Ahmed sac fly to left that scored Wisely and on a solo homer to right off the bat of Heliot Ramos in the top of the ninth inning. Ramos may now officially be in the running for the Giants MVP of the season in my book. His homer to right was unusual in that during his swing Ramos lost sight of the ball and did not know it was a homer. He apparently believed it to be a foul ball, and delayed his home run trot.

Rodriguez, Walker, Tyler Rogers and Camilo Doval preserved the win with Doval getting his 15th save of the season in a clean bottom of the ninth inning.

This was a very big win to start the road trip.

The Highlights

and this is not a highlight but it is very cute and very cool!

Tonight’s Game

The Giants continue their series in Atlanta against the Braves with a game at 7:20 PM. It will be Jordan Hicks (4-4, 3.36) against Chris Sale (10-3, 2.79) in an interesting matchup of two pitchers who have re-generated their careers from different starting points.