With the MLB season suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, there are no baseball games and limited baseball news. So I’m creating a hypothetical season — complete with news and recaps — until baseball resumes. All news and recaps will have the hypothetical tag, so you can at least know when you’re suspending reality. And you can click “hypothetical season” above the headline to see everything that has happened in this “season.”
San Francisco Giants fans are still mad about the Matt Moore trade.
They’re mad that Bobby Evans gave up Matt Duffy, even though Duffy only got 809 plate appearances into his Floridian tenure before the Tampa Bay Rays designated him for assignment, and is now on a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers. They’re mad that Evans gave up Lucius Fox, even though Fox doesn’t yet look the part of a future major league player.
They’re mad even though Moore did one of the best things a Giants player can do, falling one out short of a no-hitter against the hated Los Angeles Dodgers, which played a big role in the Giants making the 2016 postseason.
I don’t bring this up to suggest that Evans nailed the trade and you should all be more appreciative. Not at all. I say it to remind you that, for quite some time now, the Dodgers (relative) weakness has been left-handed pitchers, and that if the Giants can find someone like Moore (a previously good, not currently good, left-handed semi-reclamation project pitcher) without giving up someone like Duffy (then an important part of the lineup), and someone like Fox (then an important part of the farm) it could play dividends against that team you all hate so much.
Enter Drew Smyly.
The Giants signed Smyly to a one-year, $4 million contract over the offseason, with incentives that could run the price to $7 million. Last I checked, that’s significantly less expensive (in baseball terms) than Duffy plus Fox plus Moore’s contract.
On Saturday at Dodger Stadium, Smyly endeared himself to the Giants faithful, which, admittedly, will be a much easier task for him than it was for Moore, since no one has negative connotations with the acquisition.
Smyly did what neither Johnny Cueto nor Jeff Samardzija could do in their starts, and got out of the first inning without allowing Cody Bellinger to hit a home run. Hey, that was a good start.
And then it kept going. And going. And going. He didn’t twirl a one-hitter like Moore did, but he shut down the Dodgers entirely, allowing just three hits and one walk across seven innings, while striking out six. No Dodger was ever in scoring position, and no contact made you think “uh oh” off the crack of the bat.
Meanwhile, the Giants offense found a little bit of rhythm, spraying hits all over the field. They had a hard time finding the big hit, but they still managed 12 hits on the game, which felt like an offensive outburst relative to Thursday and Friday’s contests.
The got the scoring going in the third inning, when Brandon Belt hit his first dinger of the year off
Kenta Maeda Ross Stripling. It was a two-run shot that was oh so very Brandon Belt: It had a nice crack off the bat, Belt didn’t complete his follow-through before dropping the wood, and he had that familiar short-stepped, slightly-constipated trot around the bases that we all know and love so much.
A few innings later, Alex Dickerson roped a double into the gap to score Buster Posey, and the Giants had a commanding 3-0 lead. I don’t even say that sarcastically; with Smyly pitching as well as he was, that lead felt commanding.
The Giants would add on in the seventh inning with an old school small ball rally - single, stolen base, productive out, sac fly - and they’d give up a run in the eighth when Mookie Betts doubled off of Jarlin Garcia, and scored on an RBI single.
So there would be no shutout. But there would be a win. A 4-1 win, which is the first of the Giants season.
They’re now 1-2. They avoided the sweep. They Beat LA.
Always beat LA. Always.