If you want to see the difference between good and bad defense, and good and bad situational hitting watch last night’s Giants 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. The Giants were able to overcome a strangely uneven and wild Alex Cobb to win a game in which the Phillies had more traffic on the bases than I-280 on a Friday evening. It was a remarkable job of Cobb’s to escape a first and second nobody out situation in the first and a bases loaded situation in the second, all without surrendering a run. It was also an example of how the double play can be a pitcher’s best friend and bad defense, in this case for the Phillies, can be a pitcher’s best fiend.
A Pitcher’s Best Fiend
The Giants started the scoring in the bottom of the third inning thanks to a Sabol single and a one out Wade single to center with Sabol that became the play of the game, in my book. That hit, a routine drive to center fielder Brandon Marsh, if fielded routinely would have put runners on first and second with one out, a threat to be sure but no big deal for a cool dealer like Zack Wheeler. Well, the Phillies center fielder had different plans. He would bobble the ball like it was a grease-smeared angry hog in heat in July. That bobble would allow Sabol to easily advance to third. To make matters worse, Marsh then air-mailed a throw into the Philadelphia version of the Bermuda triangle – no-man’s land where the second baseman and shortstop weren’t. The ball would end up skirting between third and home and that meant Wade could advance to second base. That’s disastrous defense by an outfielder and that set up Thairo Estrada’s single up the middle. Michael Conforto, who had three hits in the game, then hit an RBI single as well.
Just like that it’s 2-0 Giants.
Thank you Phillies defense!
Cobb’s Wild Night
That Giants lead would prove to be shorter-lived than a Philly cheesesteak sandwich in my hungry hands. That’s because the Phillies capitalized on some Alex Cobb strangeness when, after allowing singles to Marsh and Clemens in the top of the fourth inning with one out, Cobb would balk in a run after his pickoff attempt appeared to get Clemens at first. He went ballistic and argued the call (Cobb, not Clemens) to no avail. The next batter, Trea Turner reached base on a wild pitch after striking out and the inning was un-raveling for Sir Alex. Gabe Kapler elected to bring in Taylor Rogers to stop the bleeding and that he did, getting Harper to whiff and Castellanos to ground out to second base. Inning over, 2-2 game.
Cobb was not as bad as his line and my guess is he was pitching a bit too carefully to this powerful Philadelphia line up, which resulted in the five walks in only 4 1/3 innings of work.
The Giants Answer
The Giants countered in the bottom of the fourth with another gift from the Phillies defense. In this case it was a weird play that lead to mayhem and Giant runs. Yaz lead off and struck out but Casey Schmitt reached base on an infield single. Joey Bart then hit a non-routine fly ball with two outs, into that famous Philadelphia triangle, the outfield version down the right field line. Neither the first baseman or right fielder could reach the hit while still in flight but Philly second baseman Bryson Scott nearly made a diving catch to save his first baseman who played the pop up like he wanted no part in it. Scott’s dive was a miss and his momentum slapped the ball into foul territory, far enough away to score Schmitt who alertly scampered all the way from first. Joey Bart ended up with a gift double.
Kudos to Schmitt who was not dogging it around the bases and did not take the out for granted.
3, 4, let’s tack on some more pic.twitter.com/ERPC4yEFdq
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) May 17, 2023
La Monte Wade Jr. then singled home Joey bart and suddenly the Giants were up 4-2. It would stay that way till the top of the ninth inning when with two outs and Camilo Doval working on his tenth save of the season, was rudely rocked by a Kyle Schwarber home run to center fielder. That hit came on a 100 mph fastball. That Schwarber sure can turn on the heater. Doval recovered to record the final out and a Giants win that pushed the San Francisco record to 19-23.
Former Giant prospect Zack Wheeler struck out eight San Francioscans in six innings, but allowed four runs on nine hits and a walk in the loss. If the Philly defense played as well as Wheeler pitched the Giants would have been losers on this night.
Game Ball to the Bullpen
In all the Giants bullpen allowed that lone Schwarber solo homer in 5 2/3 innings of work. That’s an impressive stat any time, especially against this Philadelphia team, the defending National League champions. Taylor, Tyler and Brebbia were the hero relievers on this night to join Doval in saving the game.
Today’s finale of the three-game series takes place at 12:45 PM. It will be Walker against Stripling on the mound. The Giants are playing for the sweep.