Some Losses Hurt More Than Others
As losses go last week’s heartbreaker against the Royals for the home opener felt like a cheap horror film, the kind where the villain just kills for no rhyme or reason. That loss felt gratuitous. Last night’s 10-5 loss to the Dodgers that decided the three-game series in favor of the Los Angelenos felt like a Russian Tragedy, one that shocks you with its sad, ugly turn of events. It all began with four straight walks by Taylor Rogers in the top of the sixth inning that turned the game. Mr. Rogers was unmade and has had a horrible start to his Giants career.
After three innings the Giants are cruising with a 3-0 lead despite weirdness and sloppy play in Alex Cobb’s start. Clayton Kershaw was very hittable and the Giants were able to escape jams to keep the Bums off the board. We are feeling good. We’re dreaming of a series win and a victory that propels the Giants into a win 10 of 12 run to get them going.
Cobb’s Wild Night
The Dodgers would tag Cobb for two runs in the top of the fourth inning and then tee off the the Giants bullpen one night after getting shutdown by the relief corps. It’s baseball. It’s baseball against the Dodgers, a team with basically an All-Star line up that was not going to be shut down two nights in a row. That inning started badly when on the first pitch J. D. Martinez hit a triple to center on an inside corner curveball that had a bit too much loop to it. That hit would be just out of reach of Bryce Johnson, who was brought in to play for his defense and made a super effort on the play. The ball was hit hard. It was loud.
Cobb had trouble with his command all night and would end up surrendering eight hits in 3 2/23 innings of work but allowing only two runs. He was part escape artist and part beneficiary of timely defense (despite some issues I will get to later). The key play for Cobb came with two outs and one on in the top of the fourth with the Giants leading 3-2. Miguel Rojas hit a hard come-backer right to Cobb, who could not field the ball. It caromed away far enough for the Dodger to get an infield hit. The next batter was Mookie Betts who made Cobb pay with a run-scoring double. Cobb’s play has to be made and it wasn’t.
The key inning was the top of the sixth inning after the Dodgers would tie the game with a lone run in the top of the fifth that came from a homer by, yes, that guy: Max Muncy. Here is how the sixth went:
TAYLOR ROGERS PITCHING FOR SF
Thompson hit for Peralta
Thompson scored, Betts to second, Taylor to third.
Just like that, it’s an 8-3 game. Taylor Rogers had one of the worst innings of his career and then was seen slamming his glove into the dugout trash can. Who can blame him? The key at bat in that fateful top of the sixth was Freddie Freeman’s 15-pitch walk with the bases loaded with Scott Alexander pitching, that gave the Bums the lead for good and was then followed by a sacrifice fly and then a three-run home run by Giant-Killer Max Muncy. Muncy would end up with 11 ribeyes against the Giants in the series, tied for second-most all-time against the Giants. The record is 12 by Frank Howard in 1962.
The Giants, and Taylor Rogers were shell-shocked and never recovered. Our boys would put up a valiant fight with an RBI hit by Wilmer Flores in the bottom of the eighth inning and a solo homer by Thairo Estrada in the bottom of the ninth. It was too little too late as the Dodgers would tack on two more runs in the top of the seventh inning off Ross Stripling, who has having a hellish start to his Giants career with an ERA of 9.00. He may need an Exorcist or something because he just cannot get people out.
Wilmer Flores would have three hits on the night.
Unbalanced At the Plate
The Giants have a weird trend happening in this young season: They are sensational against righties, with an OPS of .864, and sub-par against lefties, with an OPS of .533. That disparity is a result of missing some key righties in the line up, namely Austin Slater and Mitch Haniger. Don’t forget that Joey Bart only returned to action on Monday.
Darrin Ruf Returns
Darrin Ruf, making his return as a Giant, had two hits and an RBI double with two outs in the bottom of the first inning off Clayton Kershaw, that was nearly a homer. Ruf likes playing in a Giants uniform.
THE BARK IS BACK pic.twitter.com/yCLoerjwDK
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) April 13, 2023
If you recall, Darrin Ruf was traded last year to the Mets in what was perhaps the most lopsided (in favor of the Giants) deal in the Zaidi era. To say he was a bust would be an understatement. His hitting talents simply vanished and he was nursing some chronic arthritis in his wrist. Mets fans were not happy. To make matters worse for the Mets, they are paying part of his salary this year. In that trade the Giants received J. D. Davis, Nick Zwack, Carson Seymour and Thomas Szapucki, the last three of whom are highly-regarded pitching prospects in the Giants system.
It turns out Ruff was going through many personal issues, namely the unexpected death of his father. It shows you how human baseball players are. Life happens. Andrew Baggarly’s profile also demonstrates how much Ruff and his family loved playing for the Giants organization. It’s a good read. Welcome back Mr. Ruf. I’ve always been a fan.