Until the last two games, I didn’t think it was a good week for the Giants. They came off the humiliating sweep at home last weekend by the Dodgers–which their obnoxious beat writer, Molly Knight, smugly described as having “restored order” in the NL West–and barely got by the lowly Diamondbacks for a two-game sweep in Arizona. (OK, they won easily on Tuesday but needed a late rally to win Wednesday’s game.) Then they came into Dodger Stadium on Thursday and managed a lackluster three hits in what was a bullpen game for the Bums. With Buehler-Urias-Kershaw lined up for the rest of the series, it sure looked like the Giants would be 0-7 against the Dodgers and proven to be the pretenders everyone has assumed that they are.
What a difference 48 hours makes. I haven’t been a big fan of the infatuation with Mike Tauchman, but that was a huge catch on Friday night. He robbed a first-ballot Hall of Famer of homer #669 (which Pujols got last night), saved the game, and swung the momentum of the series. It’s just one game, in May at that, but given the batter, the game circumstances, and the larger context–it was amazing.
Let’s watch it again, shall we?
MIKE TAUCHMAN WITH THE CATCH OF THE YEAR 😱 pic.twitter.com/PmGZbeV6oZ
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) May 29, 2021
What did you think about that catch, Albert?
The Dodgers, of course, were all ready to celebrate a dramatic comeback victory, and then…
That felt like the most important win of the year to date, but then last night’s win felt like the most impressive. Let’s review what happened:
- Logan Webb returned from the injured list and dominated the Dodgers, despite some shoddy defense behind him.
- The Giants’ offense beat up on Julio Urias, who’d been absolutely rolling, including a 10-strikeout game a week ago against the Giants in which he took a perfect game into the sixth inning. It was the first time the Giants had beaten Urias since his rookie season of 2016. It was also the worst start of Urias’s career (most hits, tied for the most runs allowed).
- Webb was pulled after five innings and 62 pitches out of an abundance of caution, since he’s coming back from a shoulder injury. The Giants had a five-run lead when Webb left, and by the time Scott Kazmir finished his nightmare of a sixth inning, it was a three-run lead. Given how bad the Giants’ bullpen is, it just seemed like too big of an ask for them to get 12 outs to protect a five-run lead against such a dangerous lineup. You could just see it slipping away.
- Steven Duggar had arguably the biggest hit of the game in the top of the seventh, a two-run double that gave the Giants back some breathing room.
- The Giants kept adding on (something it seems like they almost never do), and even after Jose Alvarez gave up a two-run homer to Pujols, they had a big enough lead for Matt Wisler to cruise the last 1.2 innings for a convincing victory.
So to review, the Giants won easily despite bad base running, bad defense, and bad relief pitching. They beat a really, really good starting pitcher who has owned them for the past five years. That was a great win for them. So whaddya think, Molly? Now that the Dodgers are back in third place, has order been restored?
Some standouts this past week
- Logan Webb: Counting last night, that’s three really good starts in a row for him. I cannot stress enough what a big deal it would be if this 24-year-old homegrown youngster becomes a rotation mainstay for the Giants for years to come. I’ve had my doubts, especially after last season. I’m not completely convinced yet. But I’m more hopeful than I’ve ever been about him.
- Steven Duggar: Duggar is quickly becoming the feel-good story of the 2021 Giants. Duggar’s been around awhile, has struggled with injuries, and has scuffled in the majors, especially at the plate. He seemed destined to go the way of guys like Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson, other AAAA outfielders of the previous regime, and many speculated that he’d be DFA’d off the 40-man roster before spring training ended. But he wasn’t. And injuries to others gave him his opportunity, and he finally appears to be putting things together. The raw stats alone are impressive (.310/.355/.569/.924, 3 HR, 11 RBIs in 62 plate appearances), but the clutch hits are off the charts. Oh, and the homer he hit off Walker Buehler on Friday night? That’s the first homer any Giant has ever hit off Buehler. I mean–ever.
- Matt Wisler: Wisler has quietly been rebuilding a season that got off to an awful start. In his last 7 games (8.2 IP), he’s 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA, a WHIP of 0.69, 12 strikeouts, and only 1 walk. His last 15 games are respectable (3.38 ERA) and include 22 strikeouts in 16 innings and a WHIP of 0.81. It would be huge if Wisler could be the reliable bullpen piece they hoped they were signing.
Others of note
- Wilmer Flores returned from the IL last night and was 3 for 3. He’d finally started hitting right before his injury, so it’s good to see him pick up right where he left off.
- John Brebbia (a free-agent reliever signed this winter) made his first appearance in a game for Sacramento this week and pitched a clean inning. Brebbia is coming back from Tommy John surgery and is eligible to come off the IL in a couple of days. He could be a big boost to the bullpen before much longer. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2019, but he’s had a nice career.
- Tyler Beede, also returning from TJ surgery and also eligible to return as of June 1, has made 5 starts for Sacramento. He’s 0-1 with a 2.61 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 10.1 innings. He’s also walked eight and has a 1.258 WHIP, so he seems to have some work to do.
- Sam Long made his first start for the River Cats last night, and it was electric. He went 3.2 innings (55 pitches), gave up 1 hit, 0 walks, and struck out 9, including the first 7 hitters he faced. They’re carefully stretching him out as a starter and monitoring his pitch count. I’m not going to be surprised if he makes his major league debut this season.
- Marco Luciano hit a monster home run for San Jose last night and after a slow start is clicking along now (.284/.341/.556/.896). His 5 HRs are tied for the lead in his division. He has 19 strikeouts in 87 plate appearances (not bad) but only 6 walks (that could be better).
One of the most impressive home runs I’ve ever seen in San Jose. https://t.co/6emrYld7gQ
— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) May 30, 2021
Giants at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m. at Chavez Latrine
Kevin Gausman (5-0, 1.53 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (7-3, 2.94 ERA)
This may be one of the best pitching matchups of the season so far. Neither pitcher appeared in last weekend’s series. Gausman is in the top 5 to 10 in almost every pitching category (third in NL/fourth in MLB in ERA at the moment), and while Kershaw’s numbers are not as stellar, he’s still a great pitcher having a very good year. Since the Giants’ lineup teed off on a lefty (Urias) last night, it will be interesting to see if they can find similar success against their old nemesis Kershaw.
Worst case, the Giants will conclude their road trip 4-2 with a split at Dodger Stadium. Best case, 5-1 and winning 3 of 4 from the Dodgers. Order has been unrestored. Lefty out.