Why should I? Sure, it’s my job, but what do the first eight and a half innings have to do with actually covering the team?
From Friday through Monday, the Giants led going into the ninth inning three times, and they lost all three times. What happens in innings one through eight is all academic.
So I didn’t watch.
But if I had watched, here’s what I might have noticed:
- Mike Yastrzemski led off the game with a home run, which it feels like he does at least once a week. It was a beauty, as all Giants home runs are.
- After the Giants relinquished the lead in the bottom half of the inning by giving up a solo home run to Giants killer Tommy La Stella (thank goodness they don’t have to face him again until ... /checks notes ... tomorrow), the Giants retook the lead on a two-run home run by Pablo Sandoval. It was not only Sandoval’s first home run of the year, but his first extra-base hit of the year.
And it came on a spectacularly Sandovalian swing.
Yup. Just your run of the mill, flat swing home run on a 91 mph fastball at the shoulders. Sandoval has 149 career home runs and I’m pretty sure at least 145 of them are hilarious looking.
- The Angels once again tried to tie things up in the bottom half of the inning, aided by Jo Adell taking a 3-2 pitch that was a no-doubt strike to literally everyone (Adell included), except the umpire. After a bunt (what’s that?), the Angels had runners on second and third with just one out.
A David Fletcher line drive looked like it had the game tied, but Yastrzemski saved the day. You’ll have to sit through his home run again to see the highlight, but I’m guessing you’re OK with that.
I have no idea if Yaz took a good route on that catch, because it’s nearly impossible to tell with the broadcast angles. Maybe it was a spectacular catch, or maybe it was a routine play that he made look impressive.
Either way, it looked impressive.
- The Giants kept the Angels’ two-out magic at bay, but they had their own to offer. In the fifth inning, after Sandoval struck out looking on a pitch a pitch that was roughly one shoe of Shaq’s outside of the zone, the suddenly-hot (err, check that: the always hot, suddenly hot-hitting) Brandon Crawford came up with two on and two out and roped one down the line to score both runners.
- That gave the Giants a 6-1 lead, which didn’t feel sustainable at all, considering that they blew a five-run lead in the ninth inning just a few games ago. So they did the reasonable thing and added on.
With two outs in the top of the ninth, and nobody on, Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria, and Sandoval hit back-to-back-to-back doubles, pushing the lead to 8-1. Comfortable? Hell no. But better. Much better.
So now we arrive at the bottom of the ninth, when I finally turned the TV on.
And look, I’ll be honest, it didn’t start so hot. Shaun Anderson took the mound, and promptly sent a pair of mid-90s fastballs at Mike Trout’s head.
Here’s the first:
Here’s the second:
"We don't throw at people. It's not who we are." - Gabe Kapler on this pitch from Shaun Anderson to Mike Trout pic.twitter.com/0evekh0dlX— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) August 18, 2020
Trout hadn’t hit a grand slam on a 3-0 pitch, so there was no reason to be throwing at him* — the only possible reason for Anderson to be upset was that Longoria took a heater to the ribcage a few innings earlier.
*In case it is not clear, this is a joke. There is never a reason to throw a fastball at someone, let alone at their head.
So hopefully it was just Anderson not having control, which is what Gabe Kapler claimed postgame.
Kapler on Anderson: " I'm just going to be very direct. Shaun hasn't been on the mound in five days. He got a little jumpy. We don't throw at people. That's not who we are." #SFGIants— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) August 18, 2020
I have no idea if Trout has another level — I don’t want to know what that would look like — but angering the best player in baseball before playing him two more times is not really an advisable strategy, though it’s abundantly clear the Giants don’t have advisable ninth-inning strategies.
Anderson later walked Trout, and followed it up by allowing a single to Anthony Rendon. If you had visions of the Giants finding a way to blow a seven-run ninth inning lead, you weren’t alone.
But alas, Anderson allowed just a single run before closing the door, and giving the Giants their first win in a week.
A few notes:
- The Giants veteran bats are starting to come around. Crawford now has four extra-base hits, after not having any entering Sunday’s game. Sandoval had his first two extra-base hits of the season, and Belt now has one in each of the last three games.
- Trevor Cahill made his second start of the season, and looked pretty good. He gave up 4 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run in 4 innings, while striking out 4.
- On the other side of things, the Giants became the first team this year to rough up Dylan Bundy. Bundy entered the game having given up just 2 home runs in 5 starts — the Giants matched that total. He’d walked just 3 batters in 28.2 innings — the Giants walked 4 times. He’d allowed a mere 5 runs, but the Giants tacked 4 onto his total. This offense is occasionally good?
- Finally, I leave you with some great photos from the game: