Johnny Black

Goooooooood Monday everyone! It’s great to be a Giants fan! Yes, the Giants dropped a strange game, 5-2 yesterday to the Snakes (I’ll get to that game in a minute) but I want to take a step back and look at the entire home stand, a 5-2 record against a very hot Padres team and the first place Arizona squad that I mentioned above. I am thrilled with the record and I hope you are too! There is much to discuss about this weekend, including Dr. Lefty’s outstanding piece on Saturday that touched on some key points concerning this improved Giants team.

The one item I want to reiterate is the Giants record since Patrick Bailey was called up. The boys from San Francisco have now gone 24-11 in that span, with a record of 18-8 in games he has started!


I think not.

Right now, with yesterday’s loss, the Giants are 44-34, 2.5 games behind the Diamondbacks, in second place and one half game ahead of the third place the Dodgers. The Giants have the third best record in the NL. Who would have thought that possible in April?

The Giants have a game in hand over the Diamondbacks so that’s good too. With 78 games played the Giants are three away from the half-way mark of 81 games played. This season sure feels like its going fast! The Giants had that fantabulistic ten-game winning streak and have won 12 of 14 to tie the Reds for the honor of being the hottest team in baseball. Keep in mind they have been doing it without Yaz lately, without Cobb in the past ten days and with a starting rotation composed of relievers for nearly half of the games in that span.

And they keep winning!

And they keep beating the top dogs of the National League!

This Giants team is for real. That’s Johnny’s conclusion.

Let’s say the Giants win one of the next three games on their schedule (They travel to Toronto).  That would give them 45 wins for the first half. Multiplied by 2 that would result in, if things play out in the second half the way they did in the first half, a 90-win season (90-72 record) which is more than good enough for the playoffs. But, as Dr. Lefty said, this Giants team can absolutely win the NL West!

But before I get ahead of myself Let’s look at this weekend’s games.

Yesterday’s Game: A Lost Opportunity for a Sweep

As I mentioned, the Giants lost a tough game yesterday to Arizona by the score of 5-2. Anthony Desclafani pitched a very solid game, going six innings and allowing only two runs on five hits with no walks and three strikeouts. The zero walks were a key. The problem for the Giants was Arizona starter Ryne Walker, who was just a bit better than Desclafani in his seven innings of work in which he gave up only three hits and one run while striking out six Giants in the process.

The Giants battled to make a game of it in the ninth inning where they scored two runs and could have had more but the truth is once the Diamondbacks added on three runs off Tristan Beck, including a two-run homer from Ketel Marte, the game was largely decided.

We could get into Blake Sabol’s base-running gaffe in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs while he was on first and with J. D. Davis on second base where he over-ran the play from second and headed to third base with Davis on the bag after Patrick Bailey’s infield hit. It was a strange play because it looked to be a run-scoring single down the line off the bat of the Giant catcher but Evan Longoria made a fine play to stop the ball from going into the corner and prevent Davis from scoring. Sabol was not able to track it and got caught in a run-down briefly before being tagged out trying to go back to second base. No big deal. It happens. Manager Gabe Kapler rightly defended Sabol in his post-game comments.

J. D. Davis had two hits and two runs batted in to reach 44 on the season. He may be the Giants MVP for the first half, with a strong competitive showing by Thairo Estrada for that honor.

Injury Front

Luke Jackson was placed on the 15-day Injured List with a low back strain. Jackson left Saturday’s game because of the injury. … RHP Ross Stripling returned from a rehab assignment and was reinstated from the 15-day IL. … 1B/OF LaMonte Wade Jr., who was also pulled from Saturday’s game because of lower back tightness, was held out of the lineup as precaution. The Giants are getting thin in the infield. In fact, yesterday Isan Diaz played third. I wonder why Casey Schmitt did not start? hmmm.

Saturday’s Game: Matos Goes Deep!

In hitting his first career home run Luis Matos contributed to a very fun 7-6 Giants win over Arizona. His was a go-ahead two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Giants a 7-5 lead.

The Giants beat a very good pitcher in Merrill Kelly, roughing him up for five runs in five innings.

This was a bullpen game for San Francisco with Walker, Winn, Manaea, Jackson, the Rogers Twins and Doval all pitching. Camilo earned his 22nd save. Keaton Winn gave up three runs in his three innings of work but after the fourth inning the Diamondbacks were only able to plate one run, it came off Doval in the ninth. This is a tough and Athletic Diamondbacks club and they’ve  shown it throughout the series. Pederson and Sabol each drove in a pair for the hometown heroes.

Luis Matos: Giant Unicorn

I want to get back to Matos for a second. He may end up being as big a revelation as Patrick Bailey. His smooth play in center field has solidified the outfield defensively. His ability to make contact and his speed have become weapons in themselves. Throw in a dash of power and we have ourselves one hell of a center fielder. You know what else makes Matos so special? His maturity. He, like Bailey, appears unfazed by The Show. He is Mister cool, calm and collected and I love it. You know one more thing I love about Matos? He hits from the right side! He is a unicorn for Giants prospects: a strong right-handed hitting outfielder with speed and a bit of pop!!!! He is the answer to the question: When will the Giants ever develop a right-handed hitting outfielder? At least, I am hoping he is. Let’s give the young man a chance to develop and blossom. Right now he looks ready and he has also been a big contributor to this hot streak.

The Black Monday© Weekend Wrap

In my enthusiasm about the Giants I kind of gave you all my summary in the first few paragraphs so to make things a bit different this weekend I want to talk about the week ahead and stuff going on around the League. Today the Giants are off. Tomorrow the Giants begin a three-game series in Toronto before traveling to the Big Apple to play the Mets on the weekend. The Giants have been decimated relatively by injuries to their entire roster, albeit, most of them are not serious, Thank Mays!

My point is this team is resilient and has shown true depth. Depth in a roster and in a farm system is when players you were not expecting to play, come up and contribute to wins. It’s not enough that the young players and over-looked roster-fillers can fog a mirror. For a team to win a Division, those types of players need to actually play will, pitch will and get the occasional big hit. It’s a key part of MLB on a team without any or many superstars. Perhaps it’s a key to winning for any team, nowadays.

My biggest worry is the lack of starting pitching depth. I worry about the relievers being over-used from all these appearances but Gabe Kapler and his staff appear to have the long view in assigning who gets how much work. The one exception being Camilo Doval who is shouldering a big load so far this year. Let’s hope he gets a few games off this week.

This Week’s Poll

I want to start a new tradition and add a poll. I like polls. They make for good conversation starters. So, with the Giants on a roll and breathing down the necks of Arizona for first place in the NL West, here we go:

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How Many Wins Will it Take to Win the N.L. West in 2023?

JB Out!