Not because you’re pessimistic about the Giants offense, which is just fine. Rather, you would have expected a low-output showing due to the opposing pitcher: Max Scherzer. The same Scherzer who entered the game with 104 strikeouts in 77 innings. That Scherzer.
When you know Scherzer is on the mound, you mentally prepare yourself for a non-existent offense, and that’s what you got.
There’s always an except. In this case there are two.
The first except is that the Giants didn’t actually face Scherzer, who exited the game midway through his second batter, after throwing just 12 pitches. Let’s hope he’s OK.
The second except is that Anthony DeSclafani was even better than the Nationals bullpen arms that scrambled to cobble together a shockingly accurate Scherzer impression on the fly.
I’m going to show you two videos that tell the story of the game. Neither of them include DeSclafani, the most important player in the game, but oh well. That’s the way the (base)ball bounces.
The first video is Buster Posey hitting a home run for the 11th time this year. I already mentioned that the Giants only scored one run, and that they won, so you can probably surmise what percentage of the game’s runs this single swing accounted for.
If you’re counting, that’s number 11 for Buster pic.twitter.com/X5CK4nfIq6— SFGiants (@SFGiants) June 12, 2021
That ball was aaaalllllmost caught.
The second video is Juan Soto hitting a baseball to the exact same spot, but with Mike Tauchman doing what Kyle Schwarber couldn’t.
Tauchman is not having a very good season, but he has a walk-off saving robbery, a 7th-inning game-tying robbery, and a go-ahead grand slam, all in the course of a few weeks. For a player with a batting average looking up longingly at the Mendoza Line, with a slugging percentage not far off ... he’s having a remarkable season. And in a few decades when he tells people that he robbed Albert Pujols and Juan Soto in a span of a few weeks, everyone will be mighty impressed.
Another 0-for has Tauchman hitting .183/.299/.286, yet it’s not weird to suggest that the Giants might have three fewer wins without him. And he does it so casually.
The game may have been defined by dominant pitching on both sides, but it was decided by those two plays. Those two baseballs hit by those two biggest of baseball stars. Those two baseballs hit very far, but with one traveling a vital three feet further, despite a slower exit velocity.
Those two swings, and that one catch.
Now, onto DeSclafani, who has two complete game shutouts in his first 13 starts with the Giants. Disco was remarkable, in a simple way. Your eyes didn’t pop at the movement. You didn’t blurt out laughter at how silly the Nats’ hitters looked. You weren’t hitting refresh on the Pitching Ninja’s Twitter feed, hoping for a DeSclafani overlay.
You just — save for Soto’s near-dinger — found yourself never worried about DeSclafani, never bothered by Washington’s lineup, and never noticing hard contact.
It wasn’t overpowering. It was just very, very good. DeSclafani allowed just two hits and one walk, while striking out eight. He threw 103 pitches and grooved 71 of them into the strike zone. He faced only one more batter than the minimum, and threw first-pitch strikes to three-quarters of the hitters he faced. He had only six three-ball counts, and faced only one batter with a runner in scoring position.
The Giants only had four hits and no walks. But thanks to DeSclafani, that was the better offensive performance.
Oh, and the Padres lost.