In hindsight, Dereck Rodríguez’s sensational first inning should have been a red flag.
Rodríguez set down the side in nearly as efficient a manner as is possible. Manuel Margot only wanted to watch one pitch before he started swinging, grounding out on the second pitch of the game. Josh Naylor was even less patient, sending the first pitch he saw against the shift for a single. And Manny Machado shared Naylor’s approach, hitting a weak comebacker on the first pitch for an easy double play.
Just like that, the inning was over, on a mere four pitches.
From where I was sitting, it felt special. Rodríguez induced weak contact and needed only one more pitch than the bare minimum to get through an inning.
But perhaps I should have looked at the fact that Rodríguez threw four pitches, and the San Diego Padres hitters deemed three of them worth swinging at. Perhaps that was the story.
Narrator: Yes, Brady, thanks for the dramatic setup with all of hindsight on your side. That was, in fact, the story. Duh.
Rodríguez managed to make it through the second unscathed, in part due to some nice defense. Mauricio Dubón, making his San Francisco Giants debut, got a chance to make a highlight on his first play, and, with the help of Brandon Belt, he did.
The Giants won the Mauricio Dubon trade. pic.twitter.com/QJsc19ZaFJ— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) August 30, 2019
It was only one play, but my goodness he absolutely exploded out of a cannon for that ball. What athleticism!
Mike Yastrzemski followed that up with a diving catch that was just beautifully, poetically, adorably awkward. Yaz let his entire body flop back onto the earth before he bothered to make the catch.
Ahh, it’s glorious.
But things got away from Rodríguez in the third inning, and again in the fourth, as he kept throwing those pitches that the Padres hitters were drooling at.
He had good control all night, as he didn’t walk anyone, and didn’t really flirt with the notion of walking anyone. But in five innings, Rodriguez gave up three singles, two doubles, a triple, and two home runs, putting the Giants in a 5-0 hole after the fourth.
Thursday was Dubón’s debut with the Giants, the team he grew up rooting for. It was not his Major League debut, no matter what the broadcast said, as Dubón had two plate appearances earlier in the year for the Milwaukee Brewers (including one against the Giants).
In addition to making his Giants debut, Dubón made the first start of his career, and collected his first hit. A good day for him.
Most of this game was not entertaining if you’re a Giants fan, but there was quite an exception when Evan Longoria hit a high pop-up. Second baseman Ty France had no idea where the ball was, which led to this spectacular moment of misdirection:
Dude had zero clue where the ball was pic.twitter.com/rHJ4QYCQAa— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) August 30, 2019
We were all gifted a glorious gif to use for years, while Longoria was gifted with a double, because yeah. Fielding stats, everyone.
Also, Brandon Belt had a splash hit, which was a wonderful thing. He’s been struggling something fierce, so it was good to see him smash a ball out of the yard.
The Giants did have an opportunity to make things interesting. Down 5-1 in the eighth, Donovan Solano and Joey Rickard led off with back-to-back pinch-hit singles. Belt followed up with a walk, loading the bases with no outs, and bringing the tying run to the plate.
But Longoria ground into a double play, scoring a run but effectively ending the rally. An Alex Dickerson lineout ended the inning.
In the ninth they again made things mildly interesting. With two outs and trailing 5-2, Brandon Crawford worked a walk. Stephen Vogt crushed a pinch-hit double into the corner, scoring Crawford, and bringing the tying run to the plate. Alas, Solano ground out to end the game.