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Hypothetical recap: Giants miraculously beat Rich Hill, Twins

A change of jersey has done Hill well.

San Francisco Giants v Atlanta Braves Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

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.”

The San Francisco Giants had to be ecstatic this offseason when Rich Hill signed with the Minnesota Twins.

For the first time since the first half of 2016, Hill is no longer a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mind you, the Dodgers will be fine — they keep a stable of about 15-20 high-end starters at all times, it seems — so the Giants aren’t ecstatic because their hated divisional foes have been weakened.

They’re just ecstatic to not have to face a guy who seemingly is a Cy Young winner every time the Giants are on the other side of him.

Prior to Monday’s game, Hill had made 17 career starts against the Giants. In those 17 starts, he’d allowed just 23 runs in 92.2 innings — good for a 2.23 ERA. He had earned a losing decision all of twice.

So the Giants were happy to have him in the rearview mirror, until, of course, they bopped over from Cleveland to Minnesota on their continental tour of teams they’re not supposed to play. And there was Hill, just waiting for them.

Great, you thought, sarcastically.

Great, you thought, enthusiastically, a few hours later when the game was over and won.

The Giants did more damage than I can recall them ever doing against Hill before, and they did it early. Mauricio Dubón drew a leadoff walk, and Evan Longoria — on the seventh pitch of the next at-bat — blasted a two-run home run. Just like that, the Giants were off and running.

Hunter Pence added a two-run double later in the game. Buster Posey had two singles and a walk. Wilmer Flores plastered a double off the top of the wall. The Giants put 5 runs on Hill, who lasted only 4 innings. The late swings and looping breaking balls that we’ve grown so accustomed to in this matchup were nowhere to be found. The pitches that look like they might get by the catcher, only to flop into the zone at the absolute last second for a called strike weren’t there.

Hill was not the Hill that the Giants were accustomed to seeing, and for one brief evening, the Giants were not the Giants that Hill is accustomed to facing.

Jeff Samardzija held the Twins lineup at bay enough — though the home runs remain an issue for him — and the Giants coasted to a 6-3 win. Life is good. For now, at least. A few notes:

  • Brandon Belt got the day off against the left-handed Hill. After his rough 2019, and the inclusion of Wilmer Flores, Austin Slater, and Darin Ruf on the roster, I kind of expected Belt to be something of a platoon player. He hasn’t been! He’s playing most days, which I quite enjoy. But he deserved a day off.
  • Brandon Crawford also got the day off, and he has been a bit more of a platoon player (which makes sense, as the Giants are getting to have some looks at Dubón in the hole).
  • Samardzija continues to do a good job of avoiding free passes, as he issued just 1 walk in 5.2 innings.
  • Billy Hamilton got a start, reached on an infield single, and stole second on the first pitch. What a very Billy Hamilton thing to do.
  • The Giants are now 15-20.