Similar to Thursday night’s game, I thought Friday night’s game between the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs was doomed within just a few pitches. And, similar to Thursday night’s game, I was delightfully wrong.
The Giants started the game by putting Scott Kazmir on the mound, which was the first worrying sign. This is nothing against Kazmir, who is a tremendous story, and who very well may prove to be a quality pitcher in the next few weeks. It’s just that he’s clearly the weak link in a shockingly good Giants rotation that has already amassed almost 150% of the fWAR that the 2019 rotation achieved in 162 starts.
On the third pitch of the game, Kazmir gave up a pair of runs.
The Giants are playing the hottest team in baseball, handed them a 2-0 lead before most people had time to turn on their TVs, and were in a scheduled bullpen game the same day that they DFA’d their best long relief option.
Apologies for dropping my generally optimistic schtick.
Apology not accepted by the Giants.
Kazmir settled down and cruised through the rest of the inning and the second inning before handing things over to the ‘pen. And then came the bottom of the second inning and with it another offensive explosion by ... /checks notes ... the team with the best record in baseball?
The Giants started a rally with a pair of usual suspects. Usual suspects for 2021, that is. And usual suspects for 2014, and other years of that era. Brandon Crawford — hitting cleanup! — had a leadoff double, and was knocked him on an RBI single by Evan Longoria. You can vote for both of these fine chaps in the All-Star Game, you know. And again: it is 2021.
That cut the deficit in half and then came the still and surprisingly blistering hot bat of Steve Duggar, who dropped the barrel for his fourth homer of the year.
Spoiler for those of you who neither read the headline nor watched the game: that wouldn’t be the last home run of the day for the Giants. There would be more. Three more, to be specific.
One of those three came later in the inning, and turned a very close game into a sizable lead. It came from someone who has been desperately searching for a ball hit long and hard, and he put a lot of wood on a rather lazy Jake Arrieta slider.
I’m talking, of course, about Alex Dickerson.
There were many things to love about that home run, but truthfully, my favorite might be the confused reaction from this Cubs fan, who seemed to temporarily forget his associations, celebrate a long ball being hit to his part of the park, and then try to casually turn his celebration into a “hey pal, what the hell ya doin’” pose of consternation.
It was a six-run inning, and those tend to have a decent correlation with the Giants winning games. I have no idea what that’s about. I vow to look into it.
It also inflated Arrieta’s ERA, and he would leave the game after getting out of the inning. I liked that because I don’t like Arrieta. I’m not sure if I read something bad about him at some point, or if I’m imagining I read something bad about him at one point, or if I watched him have a start when I was having bad associations with something else, but either way I’m happy he got lit up, beyond it just helping the Giants.
But mostly because it helped the Giants. I liked that part.
Naturally the game was not over. The Cubs are dangerous, the Giants were knee deep in a bullpen game, which is the equivalent of bringing NERF weapons to a gun fight, and Chicago still has certified Giant Killer™ Joc Pederson, who did his thing against Dominic Leone and cut the lead in half with a two-run blast.
But, as I’ve mentioned a few times now, the Giants hit four home runs. And the final pair of them came in the fourth inning, from unlikely places in back-to-back at bats.
First up was Jason Vosler, who exacted revenge against the team that drafted him, took on dead center for the second dinger of his career, and gave the Giants their seventh pinch-hit home run of the season.
And then it was LaMonte Wade Jr., who tragically removed May’s marvelous mustachery from his face, but didn’t seem to suffer any consequences from doing so.
Four home runs at Oracle Park. Well I’ll be.
That gave the Giants an 8-4 lead, and they would comfortably hold it, as Zack Littell, Conner Menez, Jake McGee, and Tyler Rogers allowed just one unearned run (admittedly unearned due to the hilarious rule where an error BY THE DAMN PITCHER leads a run to be unearned), and held on for an 8-5 win.
They were aided by Brandon Crawford, who is not only having the best offensive season of his career (he had a walk and a double in the game), but is absolutely turning back the clock defensively.
Let’s ask Pederson — not featured in that play — how he feels about those defensive shenanigans.
Joc Pederson had something for Crawford after the play pic.twitter.com/gvDgJVzAeQ— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) June 5, 2021
And let’s check in on the numbers, while we’re here.
Brandon Crawford is the best defensive shortstop in baseball again, and by an unbelievably wide margin. pic.twitter.com/MkGGNM392N— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) June 5, 2021
And then let’s look at whoa wait how did this get here.
Getting a bit heated in the Cubs’ dugout pic.twitter.com/0LWmSmyq1p— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) June 5, 2021
And now let’s check in on the Giants fans mocking the Cubs for this puerile behavior.
Ahh, baseball. A good, wholesome, time at the yard.
There’s nothing better.