by Dr Lefty
OK, confession time: We didn’t make it all the way through last night’s game. It was c-c-c-old. Props to the Sarcastics–Mr. S. sent me a photo of them with the postgame fireworks behind them, so I know they stuck it out. We bailed to the Legacy Club after the fifth inning (and we were not alone up there) and drove home in time to see the end of the eighth inning and the top of the ninth on local TV. More on that in a minute.
It was a packed house, the game having sold out weeks ago. This exhibition game–we went to the one in 2016, too–can be a bit confusing. For one thing, it’s hard to remember who’s playing for which team. Jerry Sands, hero of the last two Giants games in Scottsdale, was playing for the River Cats–and hit a two-run homer off Cory Gearrin, making Gearrin the losing pitcher. Steven Duggar, who’s not even on the 40-man roster, was playing for the Giants. An A-ball pitcher started for the Giants. Starting for the River Cats was a journeyman named Casey Kelly who made a handful of appearances for the River Cats last year, and he shut down the Giants pretty well for the first few innings.
This general confusion led to the following exchange on TV during the bottom of the eighth, which inspired the title of this post.
Sacramento play-by-play guy: Pitching for the Giants is…uh…Derek Law!
Bill Laskey (doing guest analyst duties): That’s not Derek Law. (He was right. It was not.)
PxP guy, fumbling through his media guide: OK, #95…it’s Reyes Moronta! (It was not Reyes Moronta. It was a white guy with a beard and less girth than Reyes Moronta. Oh, and Moronta was on the River Cats last night, not the Giants. Indeed, if you look at the line score above, he earned the save for Sacramento.)
Laskey: Right. It’s Moronta! (Nope.)
They never did figure it out, and neither did MLB At-Bat. In fact, if you look at the box score for last night’s game, it still lists Derek Law as the guy who got the last out in the eighth inning. It was not Derek Law, I assure you. Mr L and I went scrambling for the list of who was available to pitch for the Giants last night. By process of elimination, we’re pretty sure that the guy who came in and quickly struck out his one hitter, stranding a couple runners, was Pierce Johnson. EDIT: It was NOT Pierce Johnson, who pitched today in Oakland. So I’m stumped now. #95 for the Giants last night, who ARE you?
Similarly, after bailing like the California wimps we indubitably are, we were listening to KNBR’s broadcast in the car on the way home from the park.
Jon Miller: Now playing center field for the River Cats is…uh…
Me: Ronnie Jebavy!
Miller: Ronnie Jebavy.
Family members in the car with me: How did you…?
Me: I remembered who was in the pregame introductions. Had to be Jebavy.
Mr. Lefty: Remember, she counts cards, too. (I’m an excellent Hearts player, if I do say so.)
My sister: That’s right. She does.
A couple of notable River Cats
I know nobody really cares about the outcome of the game. It was long, sloppy (22 hits, six errors between the two teams), and–did I mention?–COLD. But here are a couple of minor leaguers who caught my eye.
- Shaun Anderson: Anderson was obtained from the Red Sox last July in the trade for Eduardo Nunez, and he finished the season in high-A San Jose. According to MLB.com, he’s now the Giants’ #8 prospect. The Giants decided several days ago to scratch Cueto from the game in Sacramento because the forecast was for rain, so Anderson got the start. I was looking forward to seeing him pitch. Overall, I thought he did pretty well. Eight hits in 3.2 innings is a lot, but he also struck out four and walked none, and some of the hits came right at the end of his outing. So an A-ball guy pitching for the major league team and facing the AAA lineup–two earned runs is not bad. He gave up an opposite-field home run to Big Bopper Kyle Jensen, but who hasn’t done that this spring?
- D.J. Snelten: Snelten is a AAA lefty reliever. His inning was very impressive, as he struck out all three hitters he faced.
- Pierce Johnson, assuming that’s who it was: He came in with two on and two out in the bottom of the eighth and struck out his guy on three pitches. EDIT: Nope, someone else. However, Pierce Johnson DID pitch the bottom of the ninth against the A’s in Oakland today, and he struck out the side.
- Reyes Moronta: When Moronta came in to try to close the game for the River Cats, Bill Laskey finally figured out that it hadn’t been him pitching for the Giants in the bottom of the eighth. It didn’t start out well for Moronta. Kelby Tomlinson led off with a single, and then Jonah Arenado hit a liner to right that Daniel Carbonell brutally misplayed into a double. The only reason Kelby didn’t score the tying run from first is that he had to hold up to see if the ball would get caught (probably should have been). So Moronta had runners at second and third with nobody out and a one-run lead…and he proceeded to strike out the side. Now, by then, the “Giants” consisted of Gorkys Hernandez, Chase d’Arnaud, and Alen Hanson, but still, credit it where it’s due. Moronta kept his head and got it done right in front of former and prospective boss Bruce Bochy, also making the hitters look silly flailing at pitches in the dirt.
- Austin Slater: Slater started in CF for the River Cats and made two excellent plays out there–caught a sinking liner and made a great running catch on a deep ball.
#2-4 are all worth noting. The Giants are going to need to add pitchers to the major league staff, and all three of those guys are already on the 40-man roster. Remember those names.
Ty Blach: Opening Day starter?
Madison Bumgarner had “successful” surgery yesterday (good–they didn’t accidentally cut off his pinkie), and the Giants hope to have him back by early June. Jeff Samardzija hopefully will miss just 2-3 starts, but it’s hard to tell with that kind of injury. According to Alex Pavlovic, through April 10, the rotation will go like this: Blach, Cueto, Stratton, Holland. Yes. That means Ty Blach not only gets the ball for Opening Day at Dodger Stadium but also for the home opener on April 3.
And we ask: why? Of the four ambulatory members of the rotation (which includes a guy who 72 hours ago wasn’t even sure to make the team, let alone the rotation–Derek Holland), Blach has arguably pitched the worst in his late Cactus League outings. Why didn’t the Giants juggle things after the two injuries so that Johnny Cueto, who has pitched many Opening Days and started off playoff series for the Reds, could take the ball against Kershaw?
The only thing we (Mr. Lefty and I) can figure is that the Giants don’t want to burn Cueto in a Kershaw start. And to be fair, Blach’s career numbers against the Dodgers are excellent (7 games, 4 starts, 36.1 innings, 2-2, 2.23 ERA). Or maybe they just feel they need his bat in the lineup.
Giants not ready to announce it yet, but Ty "I have a .600 batting average against Kershaw" Blach will start opening day.
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) March 24, 2018
At this point, the Giants’ rotation is such a mess that you almost have to shrug your shoulders and say “Yeah, whatever,” and just hope for a few surprises–kind of like Warriors games recently, with all four of their All-Stars injured. Alex’s article (linked above) also says that the Giants are not looking to sign free agents and plan to promote from within (mentioning Beede and Suarez in particular). On the radio last night, Dave Flemming was saying the same thing–the Giants tried very hard to stay under the CBT this winter, and they’re not likely to give up on that now. I concur. No need to make short-term panic moves that are unlikely to move the needle much and that might hurt the future.
This odd/sad state of affairs led to this Dan Brown tweet last night (answer at bottom of the post):
A little #SFGiants trivia … Who was the last pitcher not named Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum to make an Opening Day start?
— Daniel Brown (@BrownieAthletic) March 25, 2018
Giants at A’s, 1:05 p.m., Cueto vs. Gossett, Radio: KNBR, TV: NBCS-CA (or MLB.TV)
If you’re a Giants fan going to the game, I advise you to either wear neutral gear or take BART:
Be careful what you yell entering the parking lot tomorrrow, Giants fans: pic.twitter.com/Hv4jMZZiiN
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) March 24, 2018
(Answer to Brown’s trivia question: Barry Zito, Opening Day starter in 2007-08 before Cy Timmy took over in 2009.)
Enjoy your Sunday. Lefty out.