I would not call the San Francisco Giants season boring, but it has become a touch formulaic. You know the drill by now: the starting pitcher will be somewhere between good and dominant, either mowing down hitters or pulling a Houdini act to escape stressful innings. The offense will put runs on the board — not as many as you grew accustomed to in 2020, but certainly enough. And then the keys are handed to the bullpen, and that’s where the excitement comes in.
Think of each Giants game like a Sue Grafton novel. You know what’s going to happen for the first two-thirds. Read the first two-thirds of one book and you can start with the final third for any of the others. Watch the first six innings of any Giants game, and you can start with the seventh inning for any.
Of the Giants 16 losses, they’ve entered the seventh inning with a lead or a tie half of the time.
If you watch baseball for the calming catharsis of the event, tune into innings 1 through 6. If you watch it for the thrill of the unknown, do something else for the first hour and 45 minutes, and check back in when the seventh is getting started.
The Giants followed their formula perfectly on Monday against the Cincinnati Reds, taking advantage of a dinger-friendly ballpark in the process. They scored a run in the first inning, courtesy of loading the bases and letting the Reds do the rest with fielding shenanigans.
And then in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, they used the power of the long ball.
First it was Wilmer Flores, who appears to be breaking out of his slump.
It’s always nice when the Giants get to go to hitter-friendly yards and hit homers that would be singles back home.
An inning later it was Mike Yastrzemski, who had his second home run in as many games.
Spoiler: I like watching Yaz hit.
And then finally it was Mauricio Dubón, who has been having better at-bats than the numbers suggest, and it’s starting to show up in the box scores.
On the other side of things, Logan Webb continued to ease your concerns about the injury history of the Giants starters (post-publish edit: in a cruel twist, it turns out he left the game with shoulder soreness). He belongs in the rotation, and while he’ll be forced out anytime the other five are all healthy, he seems ready to go when they invariably are not.
Webb showed what kind of night he was going to have in the second inning, when he got in a small amount of trouble, which his defense exacerbated into a large amount of trouble after he had seemingly worked out of it. A pair of singles put two on with one out when Webb worked what seemed to be an inning-ending double play.
But a Flores error instead resulted in the bases loaded. Webb bit down on his mouthpiece and struck out the next batter — admittedly the opposing pitcher — and then retired Jesse Winker, who’s hitting .380/.431/.700 against righties this year.
From there it was mostly smooth sailing. Gray allowed a fair number of meek hits but never looked over his head, and repeatedly worked double plays.
Webb went 6 innings and finished with 6 hits (all singles), 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, and 0 runs. He was far from dominant — he worked just 9 swing and misses — but shutting a team down when you’re not at your best is a pretty good skill to have.
And then Jarlin García allowed a run in the seventh and Matt Wisler gave up back-to-back dingers in the eighth inning, and suddenly you thought ‘here we go.’
Here we did not go, as Caleb Baragar got Wisler out of trouble, and Tyler Rogers handled the ninth. The Giants even added an insurance run in the eighth on a rather hilarious play: with runners at the corners and two outs, Austin Slater attempted to steal second, but got caught in a pickle. Slater kept the rundown alive long enough that Darin Ruf could have scored from third and then ran the bases and scored a second time, all the while with Cincy utterly oblivious to the fact that preventing runs is actually an important thing to do.
6-3 was the final, and the Giants now have a winning record on the road trip with three games left.