Sometimes one swing is the difference in a baseball game. One pitch, in a game with 294 pitches, is what decides the outcome.
On Monday, that swing and that pitch came courtesy of Brandon Belt and Chase Anderson, respectively.
I particularly enjoy the caption that the San Francisco Giants social team came up with for that video: “Belt gets us started.”
It was kind of like when you’re watching the 100 meter sprint and the commentator says “they’re off!” and by the time that sentence is over, they’re done. Belt’s dinger made it 2-0. The final score was 2-0.
That was the pitch, and that was the swing.
Of course, it’s not really that simple.
If you (or in this case, me) are going to make the case that the game was decided on one out of 294 pitches, then it only follows that it was not decided on 293 of the 294 pitches which, in it’s own way, means that the game was decided on 293 of the 294 pitches.
And that’s fitting, really, because it felt as though Kevin Gausman won the game by throwing 293 very clutch pitches.
Gausman pitched six innings, and as you can probably surmise by the final score, didn’t allow a run. But here’s the situation he did allow in each of those six innings:
First inning: Runners at first and second, two outs
Second inning: Nothing
Third inning: Runners at the corners, two outs
Fourth inning: Runners at second and third, no outs
Fifth inning: Runners at first and second, one out
Sixth inning: Runners at first and second, two outs
It was the fourth inning that was most impressive, as Gausman stared down two runners in scoring position, with no force play and no outs, and proceeded to go strikeout, strikeout, groundout to end the inning. Not only was it a masterful job in securing the lead but, because the first two hitters were unable to get a run in, the Philadelphia Phillies opted to use a pinch hitter for the final batter, and roll with their bullpen for the final five innings. That could pay off for the Giants over the next two days.
Gausman was far from his sharpest, as is probably obvious from looking at the situations he was in all day. He allowed 6 hits and 4 walks in 6 innings, while striking out just 5 out of 28 batters. But just as we often say the mark of a good team is the ability to win even when you’re not playing well, the mark of a good pitcher is often the ability to limit an opponent even when your filthiest stuff got left in the hotel room. That sentence came out wrong. Oh well, too late to edit that one. Let’s move on.
The righty pulled enough rabbits out of a hat to keep the Phillies off the board, and it allowed the Giants to win in a game where they had trouble scoring. If it were a performance from a mediocre or bad pitcher, you’d say they got fortunate and wait for the other shoe to drop in five days.
But it happened with a good player, which means the Giants simply stole a win on one of the few days this year where Gausman won’t have it.
And that’s a much nicer narrative.
The bullpen did its job, even missing a few key arms. Matt Wisler had a strong seventh and, a day after making his MLB debut in a high-leverage situation, Camilo Doval was once again trusted with a small lead in a late inning (this time the eighth). He passed, once again. It’s officially time to get way too excited.
Wandy Peralta shut the door for his second save of the season, and the Giants secured their second straight shutout.
The Giants did not have a single shutout in 2020.
You have to go back to the end of the 2018 season to find a time when the Giants recorded shutouts in consecutive games.
The Giants are supposed to win with hitting, but if their pitching wants to do this while it waits for the offense — and better yet, maintain it when the offense arrives — they’ll be in pretty good shape.
A few notes:
- Austin Slater — who appears to have taken the role of right-handed center fielder who plays against righties from Mauricio Dubón — had a stellar game. He had two hits — including a perfect bunt single — a stolen base, and a highlight defensive play. He’s having a lovely season.
Slater takes the hit away pic.twitter.com/K7hKUWT6N1— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 20, 2021
- Jean Segura had a double for the Phillies, and stopped the game so that he could collect the ball and bat, and receive a tribute on the scoreboard for ... hitting his 200th career double. I’m all for finding any and every reason to smile and celebrate, but that is a reason to smile and celebrate that I had never heard of before.
- The Giants have 10 wins, and it took them 16 games to do so. It took them 26 games in 2020, 24 games in 2019, 22 games in 2018, and 27 games in 2017. This season looks better. I like better.