On the night before the September call-ups, two Giants rookies made their Major League Baseball debuts, and it was a night they will remember their whole lives.
Aramís Garcia and Chris Shaw were each 0-for-2 early in the game, all four on strikeouts, and it was looking to be a night of uneventful baseball for everyone except the starting pitchers.
Andrew Suárez pitched seven innings of two-hit ball with five strikeouts. He is now at 14 scoreless innings between his last two games. But it was looking like it was going to go to waste, a pain we all know way too well.
Andy Suárez is through six innings on just 72 pitches...Giants bats are all like, "Nice shutout you got there...'d be a shame if something like run support were to happen to it..."— Julie Parker (@insidethepark3r) September 1, 2018
Zack Wheeler seemed even more formidable, striking out nine in seven innings. However, he became mortal in the seventh inning, as Brandon Belt hit a lead-off double down the right field line, then Austin Slater grounded out and Belt made a gutsy run for third. Thankfully, the play was made to first and Belt was safe on Slater’s out. This brought up Chris Shaw, with one out, who hit a sacrifice fly to score Belt.
This was, of course, overshadowed by the later offensive smorgasbord, but in a game that had about as much offensive firepower as my kitten trying to fight the laser pointer, this was a big deal.
This felt like a one-run game. Heck, probably even a good old fashioned Cain-ing in progress. Shaw’s RBI was the first moment since Andrew McCutchen was traded where it felt like the rest of this season might not be as much of a painful slog as we thought it would.
And then, of course, the magic happened.
Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and think this was some huge turnaround moment. Temper your excitement by remembering that they were, in fact, playing the Mets. Let’s meet the Mets (bullpen).
The Mets bullpen is not great. They have given up 76 home runs this season. Going into today's game they had a 4.91 ERA which was the second worst in the league.— Carmen Kiew (@carmenkiew) September 1, 2018
Wheeler’s night was done after the seventh inning, and here they came. It’s almost not a surprise what happened next, but it sure felt good. On a 2-1 count, Garcia hit a home run deep into the left field bleachers. With his mom, dad, grandparents and fiancee looking on. And they could not have been happier.
Welcome to the big leagues, Aramis Garcia. pic.twitter.com/T3eCTPyR8r— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 1, 2018
And it got even better, because that was only the first of two plate appearances Garcia would have in this inning, and he went 2-for-2 with two RBI.
The Giants sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs. Three pitching changes were made. Five runs were scored with two outs. The Mets went Full Mets. And one should never go Full Mets.
Let’s break it down:
- Garcia home run (2-0)
- Gregor Blanco double
- Joe Panik strike out (1 out)
- Alen Hanson strike out (2 outs)
- Evan Longoria intentional walk
- Brandon Belt triple, Blanco and Longoria score (4-0)
- Pitching change
- Austin Slater single, Belt scores (5-0)
- Hunter Pence walk
- Gorkys Hernández single, Slater scores (6-0)
- Garcia single, Pence scores (7-0)
- Blanco strikes out.
I mean, technically they struck out the side...? If you squint and take three shots and watch selective highlights.
Anyway, the point is, baseball can still be fun. Even in these trying times, when half the fanbase wants them to tank, gut the team and let the rookies play. The rookies did play and they were great! But many will still complain that the Giants didn’t lose this game because...
There are 14 teams with worse records than the Giants at this point so tanking isn’t even a meaningful option unless you’re tanking for the best of the middle of the pack. That said, there are 15 teams who are better so they aren’t exactly playing for October.
If they’re going to flounder in the middle, I’ll take rookie surprises over soul-sucking losses on a death march to the draft any day. But to each their own.
Anyway, aside from the rookies, Brandon Belt had quite the night, and he needed it. Including tonight, he has 19 hits in his last 112 at bats, with 30 strike outs, one home run and a .170 average over his last thirty games. That’s...not great. Tonight, he was 2-for-4, with two extra-base hits and two RBI. Not that there is any particular urgency for him to get hot, but it would still be nice to see him get his swing back.
Honorable mention goes to Tony Watson and Ty Blach who pitched the eighth and ninth innings, combining for three strikeouts and one hit to keep the Mets to three hits and complete the shut out.