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Pitchers dominate, Steven Duggar homers, Giants win

Anthony DeSclafani was brilliant and so was the bullpen

San Francisco Giants v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

I had half an article written up before some news broke on Twitter. Now I have a different article.

The original headline was this: Gabe Kapler’s bullpen gamble pays off as Giants beat Pirates.

This was the article picture:

Texas Rangers v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

I wonder what he did to his middle finger.

This was the part of the article I had written:

If I asked you to name two facts about the 2021 San Francisco Giants thus far, you would probably tell me this: their starting pitching has been surprisingly masterful, and their bullpen has been predictably wobbly.

So it was pretty noteworthy when Gabe Kapler gave up on the former in favor of the latter on Thursday night.

Anthony DeSclafani was having one of the Giants best pitching performances all year. Through 5 innings he’d allowed just 1 hit and 1 walk, while striking out 5 and not allowing a run. He’d thrown first-pitch strikes to 14 of 17 batters. He’d retired 13 hitters in a row. He even had a 3-0 lead.

And then Kapler removed him for pinch-hitter Darin Ruf, hoping to add some insurance runs that felt only necessary because it would be the bullpen, not DeSclafani on the mound.

And then this tweet came across my timeline:

First off — and maybe I’m reading way too much into the wording of this tweet — I just want to say how cool it is to have a player be open and honest about that. We’re so used to athletes pushing through injuries and fatigue in the faux name of toughness only to hurt not only themselves but the team. The idea of a player going to his manager and saying, “hey, I don’t feel like I’m the best version of myself today, so you might want to consider using someone else” makes me smile. Maybe that’s not what happened, but it makes me smile, and I’m all for running with things that bring me happiness.

Second off, DeSclafani retired 15 of 17 batters, on the road, while feeling “sluggish.” Call it an endorsement of the pitcher or an indictment of the opposition, but it’s impressive regardless.

More importantly, it worked. While we sat around worried that the bullpen would squander a delightful start, Caleb Barager worked a perfect sixth inning to keep his 0.00 ERA intact. Zack Littell — aided by some hard-hit balls that found gloves — pitched the seventh to keep his 0.00 ERA intact. Camilo Doval gave up a dinger but otherwise looked good. Tyler Rogers handled business in the ninth, and, after already erasing my half-article due to a post-game anecdote from Kapler, found myself erasing a note about Jake McGee not getting a closing opportunity due to ... you guessed it ... an anecdote from Kapler.

And just like that, all my precious, beautiful drama was stolen from me, and all I have left to enjoy is just a clean, devoid of drama, high-quality baseball performance. Woe is me.

Steven Duggar — who was a late addition to the lineup after Brandon Belt was scratched — homered for the first time since June 11, 2019, and it got the Giants on the board.

A few batters later, after Mike Tauchman had singled, Buster Posey had done the same, and Tauchman had scored on an error, Mike Yastrzemski drove in a run with his second triple of the year. And while I do genuinely enjoy watching Yaz hit the ball for extra bases, I enjoy watching Gregory Polanco try and make a play on the ball even more.

And that was it for the Giants. That fifth inning was all the runs they would score, and all the runs they would need. Anthony DeSclafani and a questionable move by Gabe Kapler sensible approach to managing the realities of human bodies handled the Pirates hitters.

Giants win 3-1, and now they’re 23-14. Cool.