I made tacos tonight while watching the Giants and Cardinals, pulling out some pans right as the game started. I'm not much of a cook, so it took awhile to get going, with a whole lot of waiting around between defrosting the meat and heating up the tortillas. I realized I could've thrown in some Rice-a-Roni in to give it some dimension, but it was getting late and I really just wanted to get some amount of food in me. It took until around the 8th inning before I could settle in and enjoy the food a little bit.
From a certain perspective, this game looked a lot like some homemade tacos.
For the first six innings, neither team mounted much of a threat, though not for lack of trying. A recurring theme of this game was incredible defense, with both sides trading defensive blows. Can you trade defensive blows? Regardless, it seemed like every half inning featured some heart-racing play or wild putout. Thairo Estrada, making his debut for the Giants in left field, made a leaping catch at the wall in the first. The Cardinals' starter, Kwang Hyun Kim, made an excellent spin-and-throw to rob Solano of a hit in the second. Solano himself made a few acrobatic catches on pop-ups in the second and fourth, and the Giants just kept adding on the takeaways with Flores diving to steal extra bases and Jaylin Davis making the best play of his major league career, catching a pop-up on a dive and throwing out Matt Carpenter at first to end the fifth.
Kevin Gausman stemmed the tide for six strong innings, walking two but bringing a no-hitter into the seventh. Despite the defensive dominance, he really did shine brightly, striking out eight in seven innings pitched. The Cardinals, unfortunately, kept pace due to a move that somehow didn't get caught by the umps despite clearly breaking every rule in the book: employing Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado against the Giants at the same time. In the seventh, Arenado broke up the no-hitter with a sharp single to left, and some of that leather-bound luck started going against the Giants as Tommy Edmund's infield single set up a two out, two-on situation. The Cardinals finally broke through when Matt Carpenter hit a booming shot to deep center that Austin Slater either gave up on or lost in the sun, ending up bouncing off the wall to put St. Louis up 2-0.
While watching, I realized that my tacos were subtly out of whack. The mixture of spices I used for the meat were interesting but critically unsalted. The decision to skip out on the veggies made them kind of a slog to eat, being rather bland and taking awhile to get through. Filling my stomach certainly wasn't a BAD decision, but in a perfect world it could've ended up being so much better. It's hard to have too much lingering disappointment knowing that it filled me up and there are plenty of better meals I'll be able to enjoy in the near future, but I don't think I could've given one to a taco fan and expected them to give me a smile and thumbs up.
Similarly, it was frustrating to realize that Carpenter's hit was a catchable ball, especially since the rest of the defense had been squeaky clean up until then. But it was also the sort of play that happens. Sometimes, your competent outfielders don't make catches that would've required an incredible play to make. Given what we thought the Giants' defense was going to be like entering the year, I'll take it. But the Cardinals took advantage, adding on after Arenado and Goldschmidt singled in the eighth and an annoying series of small-ball plays plated two more in the ninth. Meanwhile, the Giants barely managed to squeak in a run in their first 24 outs, courtesy of everyone's favorite innuendo, Alex Dickerson, whose solo shot brought the Giants within two. It was close enough that the Cardinals got a replay review out of it, but in the end, Dick went just long enough to score and make us all a little happier.
The late innings got even more action-packed in the bottom of the ninth, when St. Louis brought in their closer, Alex Reyes, with a four run lead. Reyes had just come off a devastating game in Colorado when he gave up a walk-off home run, and every Giants fan started dreaming of a repeat when he allowed the first three batters to reach base. Flores drew a walk with a full count and Ruf and Solano quickly followed with singles, giving the Giants three opportunities to bat with the potential tying run at the plate. But Reyes settled down and induced a Crawford pop-up, a Duggar groundout, and a Wade strikeout to end the game at 5-3, leaving us all staring dejectedly at bits of ground beef that had fallen onto my plate but weren't really worth the effort to pick up and eat by themselves.
It's a shame the Giants ended up with a home loss today, especially because the Cardinals couldn't buy a hit for the first six innings. But credit where credit's due, Kwang Hyun Kim kept the Giants' hitters off balance, and the Cardinals executed well in the late innings. Ultimately, it looked like a midseason game where a great team (can we say the Giants are a great team now, or is the jury still out on that?) had an early game after flying home. They couldn't get their bats going until it was a little too late (and a few hard hit balls found Arenado's magnetic glove over a third base), and their defense and pitching were terrific early but got a little leaky later on. The Giants are still at least a very good team, and this doesn't appear to portend a massive fall-off due to finally realizing that they're supposed to be a 75-87 team. Posey's injury stings, but they should still be competitive and win more games than not over the next two series.
Still, maybe Kapler should buy his squad some extra lettuce. I know I would.
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-Jaylin Davis left the game due to a hamstring injury, the severity of which won't be known fully until MRI results come in tomorrow. Losing good depth stings, though Davis wasn't hitting anywhere nearly as much as the gaudy numbers he'd been putting up in AAA in Sacramento.
-San Francisco also placed Sammy Long on the 10-day IL, recalling Chadwick Tromp, who you may remember from his Gallo-ian 2020 in which he hit 4 HRs in his final 56 PA, but hit only .213. In limited action in 2021, he's hitting .444 with a HR in 9 AB. His all-whites catching gear was also extremely stylish.