For reasons I still can’t figure out, they were better at the former than the latter.
Despite their best attempts to sabotage things, they took a 5-1 lead into the eighth inning, and it briefly looked like they might have a win by a semi-sizable margin. Mind you a win is a win, but after sporting a staggering negative-15 run differential after two games, there was some allure in the team grabbing a few runs back. That would have been nice.
But asking the team to go seven innings without a big mistake was a tall enough task, and asking for an eighth was out of the question.
Tony Watson took the mound for the first time this season, and promptly plunked Max Muncy. Mind you, that might be better than pitching to Muncy, but still not ideal. After Mookie Betts lined out — a good bit of luck there for the Giants — Cody Bellinger grounded into a fielder’s choice, and suddenly things were on the up and up. But Justin Turner hit a grounder to third base, and Donovan Solano did the surprised face one makes when they realize their mitt is two inches shorter than they thought it was.
That put runners at second and third, and moved the Giants third base error total into the triple digits. Please come back, Evan Longoria.
A Corey Seager single scored a pair of runs, and that was enough to get Watson out of the game.
In came Tyler Rogers, whom the Giants are very high on, but who was horrendous on Thursday. He got wildly unlucky when Chris Taylor putted a ball through the shift, and then, in a fit of anger, missed the strike zone and instead hit Joc Pederson.
The bases were loaded, and, with a 5-3 lead hanging in the balance, no one expected the Giants to win at this point.
But Rogers got a ground ball from Kiké Hernández, the defense managed to not botch it, and the Giants survived to see the ninth.
Trevor Gott made his season debut in the final frame, tasked with protecting a 2-run lead, which feels like a deficit against the Dodgers. The ninth place hitter, Will Smith (no, not that Will Smith ... and no, not that Will Smith either) came up, and no sooner had the broadcast mentioned the importance of getting Smith out, given that Muncy, Betts, and Bellinger were the next three batters, than Smith broke the neck of a poor cardboard fan in the bleachers.
And then Gott got the next three batters out, and the Giants won 5-4, securing their first victory of the year.
Corey Seager hit two fly balls to deep left field that turned into highlight adventures for Austin Slater. The broadcast gave Slater high marks for his defense after the catches, though from the admittedly limited camera angles, it really felt like a horrible route that was saved by some good glove work.
Slater also walked three times, which is sure to keep him on the good side of the Giants front office.
Logan Webb got the start, which means that he and Tyler Anderson have made starts this year, while Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly have worked only in relief, and Jeff Samardzija hasn’t appeared at all.
I don’t think Webb was all that good, though every pitching performance against the Dodgers requires a good bit of context. Webb gave up 6 hits and 1 walk in 4 innings, and struck out 2. He threw 40 strikes to 30 balls, and earned just 4 swinging strikes.
But he allowed just 1 run. If the Giants want to have any hope of succeeding this year — even in a shortened season, and even with an expanded postseason — they’ll need to overperform. They’ll need ERAs that are better than FIPs. Limiting damage is a skill, and Webb deserves a positive grade for doing that.
Mauricio Dubón has had a nightmare start to the season in the batter’s box, going 0-10 and striking out in half of his at-bats. But the defense has been excellent, both in the infield and in his new spot in center field.
The Giants could not find a big hit in the first two games of the season, but that changed on Saturday. With two outs and two on, and the Giants holding onto a 3-1 that felt (and proved) to be not enough, Solano smashed one off the wall in left-center to open up the game.
And that was after Wilmer Flores mashed a solo shot to left.
That’s more like it.
Jaylin Davis struck out three times, but he also hit a hard opposite field single against a right-handed pitcher. That came after an opposite field home run against a right-handed pitcher on Friday.
The Giants don’t have enough left-handed batters to us an all-lefty lineup against right-handed pitchers, and Davis is certainly doing his part to be one of the righties in the lineup on those days.
The Giants defense has been laughably bad through three games. They had two errors on Saturday, and twice Flores, playing second, threw a ball that drew the first baseman way off the bag.
The outfield defense has been okay, but the infield defense has been stupendously bad.
Joe McCarthy and Dany Jimenez made their MLB debuts on Thursday, and they did not go well at all. On Saturday, a third Giant made his MLB debut: lefty Caleb Baragar, a late addition to the player pool who wasn’t even invited to Spring Training.
Baragar’s debut went in a different direction. He inherited a runner, but got out of the inning by getting Muncy to fly out, and Betts to line into a double play. Then he had a clean sixth inning, getting Bellinger to pop up, Turner to strike out, and Seager to line out.
What a story he’s turning out to be.
The Giants have been outscored 21-7 through three games, but they have a chance to earn a series draw on Sunday. As bad as they’ve looked, splitting a road series against the best team in the league would be a hell of a way to start the season.
We’ll wait to see who the Giants send to the mound. Could be Pablo Sandoval for all we know. Might be the best option, to be honest.