It was a good game and a good win. It pushed the Giants to 21 games above .500 which ... look, few things have motivated me more to get back to work on my time machine than the thought of going back to March and arrogantly telling all you suckers that the Giants would be 21 games above .500 in June.
You’ll see. You’ll all see.
It was their 10th shutout of the season. They had zero shutouts in 2020. They had eight shutouts in 2019. They’ve played 73 games this season.
OK, now that we’ve gotten the dirty details out of the way as though they’re not fun and exciting, let’s dig into the first inning. Like, really dig into it. Because that’s where the game was won. Well, there and with literally everything Anthony DeSclafani did, but we’ve kind of grown accustomed to the latter part of that equation.
The first inning was fun. It was also funny. It was also really close to just being another inning that you didn’t notice, and had that happened this game could have looked very, very different.
So let’s open it up.
Chapter 1: At first there was nothing
Austin Slater led off the game and struck out on four pitches. On the third pitch he swung and missed at an 82 mph changeup. On the fourth pitch he swung and missed at an 83 mph changeup in the exact same location.
Baseball is hard, and Slater was a reminder of that. He went 0-4 with a hat trick of Ks.
Chapter 2: Life emerges
Up next was Mike Yastrzemski, who forced Andrew Heaney to throw some pitches. Yaz worked the count full, and on the sixth pitch muscled a jam shot into the outfield for a single. The Giants were in business. Or at least in the preliminary stages of being in business.
Chapter 3: A friend lends a helping hand
With one on and one out, Darin Ruf stepped into the box for his first plate appearance since May 26. He showed off his power in a 1-2 count, taking a pitch low and in and driving it the other way.
It was a nice swing. The kind that makes you think “that guy can probably hit,” but not the kind that makes you think “that guy got a hit.”
Ruf hit the ball 93.5 mph and 344 feet. It had an expected batting average of .180.
It also went in the general direction of right fielder Luis Rengifo, who entered the game with 1,198.1 career innings spent in the infield, and 16 spent in the outfield.
Sometimes plots are predictable, and this one was. Rengifo didn’t commit an error, but he did take a poor route, look a touch lost, and appear to get briefly blinded by the sun. And that’s a recipe for a double.
It could have very easily been two outs with a runner on first. Instead, it was one out with runners at second and third.
Chapter 4: All runs are beautiful
That brought up Buster Posey, who hit a soft ground ball for an easy out. It wasn’t the stuff you dream of when your best hitter comes to the plate with runners in scoring position, but it scored Yastrzemski and moved Ruf to third base.
The Giants led 1-0.
Chapter 5: Baseball is a lot of fun, honestly
Next up was Brandon Belt. Belt, unless you haven’t paid attention to baseball in the last decade, is one of the Giants best hitters. He’s also a player fond of plopping the occasional shift-beating bunt down.
They say this is to keep the defense on its toes. Honestly, I think it’s to make us all laugh and have a good time.
Belt doinked one that walked the third base line like that person you see at the park slacklining every Sunday morning. Anthony Rendon had no choice but to watch the ball and try his best to control it with his mind, but he failed. Silly Anthony.
Ruf scored. The Giants led 2-0. You laughed.
This Brandon Belt bunt is a thing of beauty pic.twitter.com/9B2AHx6cQq— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) June 23, 2021
Chapter 6: Bombs away
The rally was secured. Jam shot. Should’ve been caught double. Weak ground ball. Bunt.
Just like they write it up.
But the Giants lead the league in home runs for a reason, and that reason is because they hit more home runs than other teams.
And so Wilmer Flores stepped up and, on the first pitch, turned an annoying inning (for the Angels) into a nightmare inning (for the Angels).
Flores now has three home runs in his last two games, and has hit safely in the last 10 games that he’s appeared in.
Now I won’t pretend to know anything about baseball, but those things seem good.
Epilogue: That was fun
It’s very easy to replay the inning and have the Giants get nothing. Rengifo could have caught Ruf’s fly ball. If he had, and if Posey had still had a weak ground out, the Giants would have been quickly retired with no runs.
Would the game have been different? Who knows.
If we pretend the butterfly effect doesn’t exist, the Giants still would have won. They didn’t allow any runs, after all, and they added a fifth one later when Mauricio Dubón led off the second with his fifth dinger of the year.
That was good for a 5-0 lead and DeSclafani had no intentions of giving any of it up.
The righty was on his absolute best behavior. He went 7 strong innings, needing just 97 pitches to get there. He allowed only 3 hits and 2 walks. He gave up no runs, as you probably surmised from the whole shutout thing. He struck out 9 batters.
He had complete control of all of his pitches. The secondary pitches were reliable to get in the strike zone. The fastball was dangerous and had pin-point accuracy. He worked 16 swings and misses and threw a first-pitch strike to 18 out of 26 batters.
It was pretty. Very pretty.
And the Giants won.
Fun, isn’t it?