Greek Giant

Game Ball Goes to J. D. Davis

Before I get into the clutch homers by Michael Conforto and Mike Yazstrzemski that gave the Giants a dramatic and desperately-needed 5-1 win in 11 innings over the Marlins in Miami, we need to talk about J. D. Davis and his Mike Schmidt-like defense at third. If J. D. Davis does not make that spectacular pick and throw to end the bases-loaded threat in the bottom of the fifth inning with two outs and Brian De La Cruz at the plate in a 1-1 game and Alex Cobb on the ropes the Giants lose that game. The ball hit by De La Cruz was smashed, I mean, hit a ton and a ball that easily clears the bases if it gets by the Giant third baseman. Instead Davis made a spectacular grab on an in-between hop, a degree of difficulty beyond extreme. His throw was on target and the Giants were out of the jam, alive to fight another inning. If he does not make that play it is a 4-1 game with the Marlins cruising and the Giants on their way to their fifth consecutive loss on this trip, along with a series sweep in Miami.

Game Ball goes to J. D. Davis. His defense has been just breath-taking this season. From short hops and smashes down the line to dribblers by the mound and pop ups in short left, Davis has shown a remarkable level of speed, athleticism and a strong arm. I have always believed that third base was the most difficult position to play in the infield, not shortstop. Because the ball gets to you so quickly and most of your throws are the longest in the infield, you have to have a combination of soft hands, agility, speed, and a cannon arm to be a top-level third baseman in the Major Leagues. Right now my quintessential prototype for a three-bagger is Nolan Arenado and the way Davis is playing the hot corner for the Giants he may challenge Nolan for a gold glove this year, IF THE GIANTS LET HIM PLAY EVERYDAY!

Alex Cobb Gives the Giants a Chance

In the Major Leagues it does not take much for a good start to end up a disaster. Witness the bottom of the fifth inning in last night’s game against the Marlins. After Jacob Stallings struck out Hampson would single on an infield hit, a ball hit so weakly it was embarrassing for a Major Leaguer. Cobb was just dominating the Marlins and showed no signs of fatigue or vulnerability. But Hampson would steal second base before Jazz Chisholm Jr. struck out. The next batter, Cooper would single to left to tie the game. That ball was a routine grounder that got through the infield between second and short. Again, no signs of cobb struggling. The run was set up by the steal. It’s what good teams do, especially in the National League: They create runs without homers. MEMO to the Giants hitters!

The inning would not end, however when Luis Arraez hit a hard single to right to bring up Jorge Soler, the most dangerous home run threat on the Marlins roster. He would walk, perhaps intentionally. That loaded the bases for De La Cruz and set the stage for Davis’s amazing play at third. In the blink of an eye the Giants and Alex Cobb went from cruising to disaster to game-saving play. Alex Cobb would end up pitching five innings allowing only one run and recording eight strikeouts against seven hits. He was very good with his deceptive, tailing sinker. He was able to locate it mostly on the corners and flummox the Marlins hitters with changes of speed and location up and down, in and out. His performance was very Greg Maddux circa 1996-like. The stuff was not dominant but the results super and the defense behind him held.

Finally, the Giants get the Big Hit but Not Before the Bullpen Sizzles

What may have been lost in the big win was the superb work of the entire Giants bullpen corps that entered the game. The law firm of Brebbia, Alexander, Tyler Rogers, Doval, Hjelle, and Taylor Rogers was superb, allowing only one unearned run in six innings with the game on the line each inning. Camilo Doval had a nervy inning with two walks but he would strike out two to escape the tenth.

Conforto and Yaz

And now for the homers.

They were beautiful. Both Conforto and Yaz went deep on 75 mph curveballs that were the equivalent of batting practice fastballs down the middle. Both came off Marlins lefty Brian Smeltzer. Both came with a runner on base.

In the end, this game was won because the Giants bullpen and defense were both superior to those of the Miamians. One such example: Darrin Ruf’s RBI double in the top of the fourth that got the Giants started on the scoreboard was a ball that could have been caught by De La Cruz in left against the wall. It would have been a good play but not exceptional. Instead the Marlin left fielder mis-timed the grab and the Giants scored a crucial run in a low-scoring game.

Let’s remember that Conforto cannot run and is nursing an injury. The Giants elected to keep him on the roster because of all the injuries going around, despite many grumblings by the Giants fans who said Conforto should be on the IL. This was a situation they were hoping to see from that decision. Bravo Giants brass.

This is also a game where the Giants homer-happy philosophy worked, despite the lefty-lefty matchups.