Despite having played fewer games than most teams, the San Francisco Giants are tied for the MLB lead with nine home runs.
Of those nine, eight have been of the solo variety.
The Giants are doing the most, but they’re also doing the bare minimum. They’re reliant on the most valuable play in baseball, but they refuse to maximize it. They have eight one-run home runs, one two-run home run, and zero three, four, five, or six-run home runs.
Sometimes it’s infuriating, such is in the opener, when they hit four solo home runs which kept them from having a deep enough cushion to not blow the game. But other times, such as in Monday’s 3-2 win over the San Diego Padres, it’s comically efficient.
The Giants are not as good as the Padres, but on Monday they were the cat and San Diego was the food that was being played with (dear kids who may be reading this: always play with your food, despite what your parents say. It’s fun. It’s not just for cats.).
The Giants started the scoring on a second inning home run from Darin Ruf.
They were content with that one-run lead, but the Padres tied it up in the bottom half of the inning.
So they answered back with a fourth inning blast by Evan Longoria, his third of the year (all of which have gone the other way).
They were once again content with a one-run lead, until the Padres tied it up in the sixth. You could almost sense the angst from the Giants. It spilled off of them like it spills off of a 13 year old who just discovered music that their parents don’t listen to. They seemed annoyed that the Padres would muck up the tidy one-run lead they kept putting on the shelf.
So they put the one-run lead up one final time, courtesy of a pinch-hit home run by Mike Yastrzemski, who was a last-minute scratch from the lineup, and who had been struggling to start the season.
And that was enough.
But only barely. The Giants bullpen squandered a solo homer-induced lead in Game 1, and they threatened to do so in Game 4, once again using silliness as their primary tool.
It started in the sixth inning, when Matt Wisler became the first name out of the pen. With one out, Jurickson Profar hit a ball to right-center field, and both Mauricio Dubón in center and Austin Slater in right took horrific routes to the ball. Dubón’s was the less-horrible route, but he ended up diving when he had no chance at the ball, letting it easily get past him. Slater’s route was so bad that he was in no way, shape, or form prepared to back up Dubón.
Dubón could have held it to a single. Slater could have held it to a double. Either could have caught it. Instead it was a triple.
Profar's triple had a .110 expected batting average. A play both Dubón and Slater should have made.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) April 6, 2021
Costly mistake as a Caratini sac fly ties this game at 2-2 in the sixth.
After Profar scored on a sacrifice fly (that Dubón almost overran), Wisler gave up a jam shot change up single to ... wait for it ... a reliever.
That led to Caleb Baragar entering the game, and he gave up an infield single on a play that Brandon Crawford makes 9 times out of 10 while sleeping and/or inebriated.
But somehow they got out of the inning with just a single run allowed, rather than the six-piece that was served up in Seattle. Progress!
And then it continued in the ninth inning, after stellar innings by Reyes Moronta and Tyler Rogers. Jake McGee entered and quickly got two outs, then walked a batter and hit a batter. Then, as the broadcasters told us that the batter on deck was 4-8 with 3 home runs against McGee, he fell behind in the count 3-1 to Tommy Pham, before a warning track fly ball became out No. 27.
Never in doubt.
A few other notes from the game:
- Anthony DeSclafani made his Giants debut and was ... I don’t know if there’s a word for what I’m trying to say. We need a baseball word for when someone’s descriptive stats are good, even if their predictive ones are not.
DeScalfani’s xFIP for the game was 5.35, the result of walking a trio of batters. He allowed 7 runners in 5 innings while striking out just 4. He also worked his way out of trouble time and time again, and managed to only give up 1 run against a deadly offense. He was an enormous part of the Giants win — arguably the largest part of the win. He also did very little that made you feel particularly confident about him going forward.
- Fernando Tatís Jr., was injured early in the game while swinging and missing at strike three. He appeared to be in a ton of pain, so the news that it was “just” a left shoulder subluxation seems good.
Update from the clubhouse: Fernando Tatis Jr. left tonight’s game with a left shoulder subluxation. He will be re-evaluated tomorrow.— San Diego Padres (@Padres) April 6, 2021
Hopefully he’s back on the field soon. Baseball is better with Tatís.
- With all respect to Adrián Morejón, who is a fine young pitcher, this was a rather important win for the Giants to get. The Padres have already played five games, so they turn their rotation over for the final two contests in the series. That means the Giants get the joyful honor of facing Yu Darvish and Blake Snell on Tuesday and Wednesday. Those aren’t arms you want to face when you’re already losing the series.
- The Giants only induced 14 swinging strikes all night against one of baseball’s best offenses, but still held them to 2 runs.
- For the first time this season, Donovan Solano did not have a multi-hit game. But he did have a hit, so he has a four-game hitting streak to start the season.
- The Giants could win this series. That’s cool.