The Giants managed to split a series in which they allowed the opposing team to score 27 runs. That’s not a great formula for success, but with the way things have been going this last week, I’ll take it.
The Giants almost wasted another great outing from Dereck Rodríguez. After Rodríguez threw seven innings of one-run baseball, the normally excellent Reyes Moronta and Tony Watson combined to give up two runs after a leadoff walk and a double off the wall. Miraculously, the Giants had scored more than three runs, so they still had the lead. After Monday’s game against the Astros and Tuesday’s game against the Astros, I don’t think I could have handled the bullpen blowing another seven-inning, one-run or fewer outing.
Rodríguez ran into some trouble in the second. He had trouble throwing strikes and went 3-0 to both Josh Bell and Elias Díaz. Each hitter wound up doubling down the left field line. Díaz eventually went to third on a grounder to bring up the eighth-place hitter Jordy Mercer. The Giants decided to pitch to Mercer despite Joe Musgrove being on deck. The thinking is that if Rodríguez gets Mercer out, Musgrove would lead off the next inning.
It seemed like a risky move with a runner on third, but it wound up working out because Rodríguez is really good. Rodríguez struck out Mercer to end the inning. I suppose the Giants also took Musgrove’s batting abilities seriously. Dude doesn’t use batting gloves and he tried to bunt for a hit. He had only had 22 major league at-bats before today, but he was one base hit away from Mike Krukow proclaiming, “He can hit.”
Musgrove did not get that hit. In fact, no other Pirate got a hit off of Rodriguez. Even without his best command, Rodríguez carved through the Pirates’ lineup. He only walked one over seven innings. We’ve seen Rodríguez pitch better than this—last Monday for instance when he didn’t have a single three-ball count—but this outing almost makes me more confident in his abilities. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, for him to get hit hard, but he continues to dominate even on his “bad” days. Good pitchers can get by when they don’t have their best stuff, and today, Rodríguez shone even though he only got five whiffs on the day and 6 of his 19 curveballs went for strikes.
Any other year, and he’d be a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year, but Juan Soto is the next Ken Griffey Jr. apparently. Rodríguez has at least made an argument against Soto which should say enough about how excellent Rodríguez has been. I suppose Rodríguez will just have to settle for the Cy Young.
Triples Alley is dumb most of the time. It takes away 5-7 Brandon Belt dingers a year, and Belt dingers are good. However, as Triples Alley taketh, so too does it giveth in the form of catcher triples. Catcher triples are fun because you can watch a slow guy run as fast as he can, and you can giggle until you remember that he would still beat you in a 100-meter dash by two seconds.
In the third inning, Nick Hundley and his catcher’s legs tripled home Steven Duggar from first. I hope you enjoyed those 13 seconds of Hundley running in proportion to 5-7 Belt dingers.
In true Giants fashion, that triple with no outs didn’t score.
Hundley played a part in the fourth inning rally as well. He nearly doubled down the left field line, but Colin Moran knocked it down. It wound up just being a single, but it scored Gorkys Hernández. The only thing hurt was Hundley’s slugging percentage then.
Hernández was on third because of heads-up baserunning the play before. Musgrove had to cover first on a ground ball and he missed the bag. While Musgrove argued with the first-base umpire, Hernández took off for third. It can be hard to evaluate whether a decision to try for an extra base is a good idea or not because results can skew narrative, but this looked like a good idea. Sure, if he got thrown out he would have made the final out at third, but Musgrove reacted quickly and made a good throw. Once he started to argue I’m not sure there’s anything he could have done to throw out Hernández.
It’s nice when the Giants make the other team look dumb for a change.
Hernández wasn’t done showing off though. After Ramon Laureano doubled off a runner with the most insane throw I’ve ever seen, Hernández wanted to demonstrate that he can do that, too. Mercer lined out to left and the runner at first went halfway to second. Hernández threw it from normal depth to first on a line. He didn’t throw out the runner, but it was still an impressive throw.
Joe Panik added another run in the sixth on a flare base hit. Panik, whose BABIP is .237, has hit into some awful luck, so it was nice to see him get a hit on a ball he only hit at 69 MPH. He’s owed some dinks and doinks and duck snorts.
I’m very much into Steven Duggar: Everyday Centerfielder. He didn’t even do anything that noteworthy today. He beat out that grounder to first that was part of the rally. The catch to end the game was a nice play, but it’s not going to make any highlight reels. I mostly enjoy Duggar in center because when a line drive is hit out there, I’m not filled with trepidation and terror. I just assume it’s going to get caught. This sense of calm and general ease is so foreign after watching Denard Span for the last two years. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do with these neutral (and sometimes good) feelings.
Seriously, what do I do with good feelings?