On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers shut out the San Francisco Giants 8-0. It was a brutal flexing of the Dodgers’ annoying muscles, and it would have fit right in with what you expected this season to be.
If I told you, back on April 1 as Opening day was getting underway, that the Dodgers would beat the Giants 8-0 on July 28, you would not have been surprised. You might not even care. What’s the difference between being down 14 games in the NL West and being down 15, you might ask.
But no. The Dodgers beat the Giants in a game that greatly disappointed you and deflated you, to pull within two games of San Francisco in the standings.
The Dodgers punched the Giants in the face. It was rude. It hurt.
So the Giants punched them back in the face.
Look, I’m not advocating for this in real life. I’ve never actually been punched in the face, save for one time by my partner when she was asleep, but if I did I imagine my first reaction would be to run away. If I didn’t do that I’d probably say “ouch,” and be confused. I might cover my face. I might ask for mercy. I might hand over my wallet. I might apologize because, honestly, that sort of confused silliness sounds like me.
What I’m fairly certain I would not do is return the favor, and I don’t recommend that you do either. Sometimes people punch you in the face. It happens. It shouldn’t, but it does. And rarely is the solution to punch them back.
But in baseball it’s a good idea, and the Giants don’t have the best record in Majors because they’re averse to good ideas.
And so the Giants won 5-0, recording their 12th shutout of the year, and becoming just the third team to hold the Dodgers scoreless.
They got to work early, loading the bases against David Price in the first inning so that Brandon Crawford could reintroduce himself in the best way possible.
He's baaaaack. pic.twitter.com/82136E5y9N— SFGiants (@SFGiants) July 29, 2021
They added on in the second with an RBI double by Wilmer Flores and again in the forth with an RBI single by Austin Slater.
And they capped off the scoring in the seventh inning, when LaMonte Wade Jr. secured his first career hit against a lefty.
He's got a hit against a lefty...and it's a good one pic.twitter.com/KYVZeHNFKq— SFGiants (@SFGiants) July 29, 2021
All five of those runs had something in common: they all came with two outs. For as great as the Giants have been this season, they’ve struggled with runners in scoring position, and with two outs.
Or maybe they haven’t. I don’t want to look it up and risk ruining the narrative. Maybe it just seems like they’ve struggled because baseball is a sport where the hitter usually loses and when there are two outs and/or runners in scoring position, it feels extra frustrating.
But they didn’t struggle today in that regard, and it was nice.
Johnny Cueto pitched, facing the Dodgers for the first time this year, and he was delightful. What lovely timing for Cueto to start pitching well, and to have an infield single because that’s fun and fun is, as the word suggests, fun.
He put it on cruise control for the bulk of the day, facing just one batter over the minimum through five innings, the result of limiting hard contact and earning timely double plays (including one Albert Pujols double play that was induced on a 3-0 count. Thanks, Albert.).
The sixth inning brought trouble for Cueto, after he walked two and allowed a single to load the bases with two outs, though he was done no favors by some poor defense from Donovan Solano. But Jarlin García entered and struck out Cody Bellinger, ensuring Cueto’s line stayed clean, and keeping the Giants firmly in control.
It was the start of a dominant bullpen performance, which is beginning to become something of the norm for the Giants, to the surprise of ... well ... anyone who watched this team in April or May.
García only faced Bellinger, retiring him on three pitches. Dominic Leone pitched a perfect seventh inning with a pair of strikeouts, pumping eight of nine pitches into the zone. Tyler Rogers, who has been bullied relentlessly by the rude Dodgers this year, struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth, and Jake McGee had a perfect ninth with nine of 13 pitches going for strikes.
And with that, order was restored in the NL West. The Giants welcomed the Dodgers into town and won the series, increasing their lead in the division to three games in the process.
It’s a good day to have a good day.