The San Francisco Giants cruised into the All-Star break with a four-game winning streak, which means they emerged from the All-Star break with a four-game winning streak. Math.
But very early on in their series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals, the two teams in the Giants rear-view mirror in the NL West — the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres — had opened up big leads on their respective opponents. They dove into the Giants slip stream, and were gearing up to dart around the outside. It was up to the Giants to cut them off. They couldn’t increase their lead, but they sure could keep those pesky poops behind them.
And so, feeling the pressure of the roaring engine of two NL West titans, the Giants turned to the secret weapon they’ve turned to all year — the veritable NOS switch to their street racer: the long ball.
It started with Mike Yastrzemski, who is good and just and beautiful and morally strong and one of the few people you’d be OK with dating your child.
He opted for the line drive strain of the long ball, and it gave the Giants a 1-0 lead.
Then, after the Cardinals had tied things at 1-1, and the Giants had, predictably, made two consecutive outs after putting two batters on with no outs, LaMonte Wade Jr. dipped into the bag and pulled out a dinger of the “oh, he hit that well, that might get over that dude’s head, oh hell yeah, that might even go off the wall, oh wow, home run, awesome I like home runs, they’re the most valuable thing in baseball” variety.
And then it was Yaz again, because, as previously mentioned, he is good and just. He knew that it would not be healthy for us to spend our Friday night with intensifying anxiety, sitting on our cramping fingers as we waited to see if the bullpen could hang on to a small lead.
So he did the reasonable thing and simply hit another one, learning from Wade that doing so with two runners on is better than with the bases empty.
You know that silly computer and smartphone game, where you fire little single-pixel bombs from a delightfully colored blob that’s supposed to be a tank, and try to hit your buddy’s tank to display your superiority over them, only you keep hitting it into the wall of the tower in between you, so you finally set the trajectory to nearly straight up and watch the bomb go up, up, up, and stay there for like 17 seconds before finally falling to the ground in god knows where?
That was the type of homer that Yaz hit.
Three homers, seven runs, and a lovely lead.
Such a lovely lead that when Paul Goldschmidt hit a home run in the seventh inning, you barely flinched. That’s not supposed to happen. Goldschmidt homers against the Giants are supposed to search your body for open wounds, scratching every inch of your skin with disturbingly un-maintained fingernails as they search, and then dump some lightly fermented lemon juice in them.
But not this one. It was just a boring home run that made the score reflective of the worst hand in poker, and that was all.
It was something of a bullpen game for the Giants, as Kevin Gausman was scratched after leaving the team to be with his wife, who is hospitalized due to pregnancy complications. They mentioned on the broadcast that the team is optimistic that everything is fine, and hopefully that’s the case.
Logan Webb started in Gausman’s place, but was on a pitch count and only pitched four innings. Those four innings were ... interesting. Intriguing, even. He only struck out two batters, but he pounded the strike zone (42 strikes to 18 balls) and very much limited hard contact.
The bullpen was mostly great, but Dominic Leone struggled, and, after allowing Goldschmidt’s home run, loaded the bases with two outs. Seems like a great time for a debut, so in came Jay Jackson, who has been thoroughly dominant in Sacramento this year.
And, true to form, Jackson struck out Harrison Bader to get out of the jam and keep the game from getting annoyingly interesting.
Jackson stayed in and pitched another inning, giving up only a walk. He can stay. And, I suspect, he will.
The only downside of the game was that Brandon Crawford left it after appearing to aggravate his hamstring. He seemed to feel some pain after a swing, but stayed in the game, and made it to first on a single before taking himself out. He walked off the field normally, so here’s hoping it was just, to borrow the parlance of our pandemic, out of an abundance of caution.
Update: Just a cramp, thank goodness.
Giants win 7-2. Happy Friday, y’all.