Don’t get me wrong. After watching it rain all day, I was grateful to be at a baseball game at all instead of in some Phoenix movie theater. Indeed, we were lucky. Six of the eight games scheduled for the Phoenix area yesterday were canceled. Scottsdale Stadium had no vendors and only half their concessions stands open (maybe couldn’t get staff to come in after the rain delay?), but baseball was played there, and I must say, the field looked great, considering. Good job, grounds crew.
But after the first 2 1/2 innings, I was thinking of mean titles and mean things to say in Out of Left Field (“Little League vs. Big League”; “Trust the Process, My Ass”; “The Kapler Era Begins with a Fumble or Three”–you get the idea). At that point, the Giants were down 5-0, had no hits or even baserunners, and they’d made three errors in the first inning that had led to three unearned runs. Oh, and Scottsdale Stadium, my beloved home-away-from home for lo these past 11 springs, was positively overrun with blue-clad, arrogant, noisy, obnoxious Dodgers fans.
Reader, it was ugly.
And then Mauricio “Bright Spot” Dubon came up, and this happened.
— M (@thrllsnsplls) February 22, 2020
They liked it back in Honduras, too.
— Mauricio Dubon (@Mauriciodubon10) February 23, 2020
I’m not sure this is going to catch on, though.
— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) February 22, 2020
Dubon finished his day 2 for 2 with 2 RBIs, later driving in Austin Slater, who’d hit a triple. And though his was the third of the three errors in the first inning that sunk poor Dereck Rodriguez (we’ll get to him in a minute), he made a couple of solid-to-slick plays at shortstop later.
Buster Posey caught four innings, somewhat to our surprise. My recollection is that Bruce Bochy wouldn’t even have played him in the first spring training game, let alone made him spend four innings in the squat. It’s a new era. But after Buster came out, Joey “The Future” Bart came in, and in the bottom of the seventh, we Giants fans finally had some non-Dubi-inspired fun.
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) February 23, 2020
That was quite a bat flip for a spring training homer, but afterward, Bart wasn’t too impressed with himself.
A fully indoctrinated Joey Bart wasn't too excited about hitting a homer in the Giants' 10-4 exhibition loss to the Dodgers: "Unfortunately, we lost to the bad guys."
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) February 23, 2020
Dodger fans around us, right after the homer: “Who was that, again?” Joey Bart. Remember that name. Coming to a Latrine near you very soon. That was just the trailer.
Both Dubon’s and Bart’s homers came on their very first swings of the 2020 season. That felt like a good omen, or harbinger, if you will. Ryan Howard, over from minor league camp, also went deep a few minutes after Bart did. He seems to have fallen completely out of the prospect picture for the Giants, so that was a nice highlight for him.
Other than the Dubon-Bart-Howard homers and the Slater triple, there wasn’t much offense to get excited about. The Giants used ten pitchers, starting with D-Rod. Thanks to the three errors, he was pulled after 28 pitches with two outs in the first inning, but he deserved better. He was hitting 93 consistently with his fastball, which is good news after he had one of the lowest velocities in the majors last season. He also struck out reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger. (“JUST LIKE IN THE PLAYOFFS, CODY!” I yelled. “MVP!” another Giants fan jeered. Well, we had to take our fun somewhere, right?)
Three relief pitchers who stood out in a good way were Carlos Navas, Matt Carasiti, and Rico Garcia. Navas and Carasiti (and yeah, I had to look him up, too) both struck out all three batters they faced, and Garcia fanned two of his three. Navas, whom the Giants signed as a minor league free agent before the 2019 season and had a decent year between Richmond and Sacramento, in particular appeared to have good stuff.
Three who stood out in a bad way were the three who were “announced” to pitch before the game: Melvin Adon, Tyler Cyr, and Raffi Vizcaino. Adon is on the 40-man roster (maybe not for long), and Cyr and Vizcaino are non-roster invitees who have both come through the Giants’ system for a few years. Adon looked terrible. He’s known for his triple-digit stuff, but it appears to be Hunter Strickland/Ray Black straight-as-string heat, and Max Muncy and Enrique Hernandez both took him deep. Muncy trotted like he was facing Bumgarner again. What a jerk. Typical Dodger.
In all, the Giants pitchers struck out 15 Dodgers and walked four, so that’s not bad overall.
Dodger fan in front of us after Muncy, Hernandez, and Taylor had all gone deep: “Dodger bats look ready, don’t you think?”
Me: “I can assure you they will be seeing none of these pitchers (Adon and Jake Jewell) during the regular season.”
Gabe Kapler reportedly got a charge of bringing out his first lineup card with his old Dodger colleague, Dave Roberts.
Those of you #Never-Belters hoping Chris Shaw is going to supplant Belt at first base should just forget about it. A tale of two ABs yesterday: Belt grinded out an AB for about seven pitches, getting it from 0-2 to 3-2 before flying out. Shaw, during a late-inning rally with two runners on where a homer would have brought the Giants within a run, took a called third strike on a high fastball that the ump had been calling a strike all day, including two pitches earlier, and he jawed and whined at the umpire all the way back to the dugout. I’m sure Shaw is a fine young man, but as a lefty 1B, he’s a pale, inferior copy of Belt in every way. Belt is a better hitter and a better defender, and go look up the differences in their minor league records. Unless Belt gets hit by a Muni bus or something (God forbid), Shaw is not replacing him.
I have a popcorn bet with Ryan that Brandon Guyer is not going to make the team, and he made one of the worst throws from left field I’ve ever seen. If this were 30 years ago, we’d be saying he throws like a girl, but he certainly has a pie arm. I am totally winning that bet. Speaking of “throws like a girl,” it was fun to see Alyssa Nakken in uniform, up against the dugout rail with everyone during the game. (I guess that rule about too many coaches in the dugout doesn’t apply in spring training.)
There was a brief Chadwick Tromp sighting, and the poor guy got plunked by some AA pitcher. Looked like it hurt, and they even came out to first base to check on him. Hope he’s OK. True story: A Giants fan a couple of rows behind us was all “who the heck is Chad Tromp?” and MrLefty pointed to me and said “She knows!”–and I did and filled the guy in, except I got it wrong saying he’s from the Bahamas. He’s from Aruba.
Some guy wearing Astros gear was walking around the third base side of the park, and every time the Dodger fans saw him, they would boo loudly and angrily. It’s going to be a long season for Astros-representing fans at enemy ballparks. But we were wondering if it might have been a Giants fan, trolling. The Astros don’t even train in Arizona. Why would an Astros fan be at a Dodgers-Giants game in Scottsdale?
When the Dodger fans got especially annoying with “Let’s go, Dodgers” chants (which they did several times), one Giants fan in front of us would respond with “Let’s go, Astros” chants in response. From the conversations we had, Dodger fans are very bitter and angry about the Astros. Can’t say as I blame them.
I got to do a little fangirl/blog reporter stuff before the game since we were sitting near the press box. Said hi to Marty Lurie (whom I’ve met a couple times), waved to Duane Kuiper, and introduced myself as “leftydana, the blog reporter” (@leftydana is my Twitter handle) to Henry Schulman, Andrew Baggarly, and Alex Pavlovic.
Giants at A’s, 12:05 p.m. PST, Hohokam Stadium (Radio: KNBR)
Andrew Suarez vs. Mike “The Snitch” Fiers
We’re headed home on an afternoon flight, but all looks good for the game in Mesa. It’s a little overcast today but is predicted to be partly cloudy and 61 degrees at game time. As per usual for a road game on a Sunday, there are few regulars in the lineup. (In fact, MLB had to institute a rule that road teams must bring at least four players from the major league roster.) But it would be fun if the Great Yazoo also hit the first pitch he sees for a homer.
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) February 23, 2020
MrLefty and I will be back in Scottsdale March 6-8, seeing the Saturday game against the White Sox and the Sunday game against the Mariners. At least the ballpark won’t be overrun with visiting fans. That was pretty unpleasant, honestly, and it really gives you the sense of how far the Giants’ stock has fallen with their fans. Here’s another marker: The River Cats still haven’t sold out their exhibition game against the Giants in Sacramento. In previous years, that’s been an impossible ticket to get. Wonder which side Joey Bart will be playing for that night…
Anyway, all that said, baseball is back, and that’s always a good thing. Lefty out.