Baseball is a sport where you routinely take the good with the bad. You might win a series against a bad team (good), but you probably still lost a game in that series (bad). You might hit a home run (good), but you probably were retired more times than you hit safely (bad). You might have won a game (good) but a player might have been injured (bad).
You get the idea.
The San Francisco Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-2 on Wednesday, slightly salvaging a three-game series that they lost the first two games of. There was more good than bad in the game, as is usually the case when you win. So when I highlight the bad in the game, it’s not to be a downer or to distract from the sweet mouthfeel of victory. It’s merely to remind you of the fun journey.
Well, fun in hindsight, at least.
The bad: Goldy and Arenado are inevitable
The game started ominously when, with one out in the first inning and Dylan Carlson at bat, Alex Wood hurled a pitch straight down broadway that was taken. For a ball.
Pitch No. 3, show yourself.
It didn’t hurt the Giants, as Wood retired Carlson on the next pitch.
That brought up the Giant killers, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Goldschmidt and Arenado were big reasons why the Cardinals won on Monday and again on Tuesday, and that surprised no one.
Speaking of surprising no one, Goldy drew a walk, then took second on a wild pitch.
The ominous start continued when the NBC Sports Bay Area feed flashed this stat about Wood: with runners in scoring position and two outs, he turns his opponents into the Giants.
Arenado is, as we all know, immune to such silly stats, and no sooner had the graphic cleared than he had hit a run-scoring double.
The Cards led 1-0.
Good news: The Bums lost
It was right about this time that the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had already lost two straight games to the Miami Marlins, and had led Wednesday’s game 5-2, lost in delicious, delightful, delectable fashion. Is a trio of alliterative synonyms really necessary, or good writing? No. But it’s the Dodgers. We throw parties. Parties are nonsensical and entirely unnecessary, but we love them nonetheless.
Bad news: I erred greatly
In both the preview and on social media I made a grave mistake. I did it knowingly, in the name of maintaining my status as Mister Doctor Professor
Johan Oviedo, the Cardinals starter, had yet to record a win in 15 career starts, and 16 career appearances. I pointed this out. I knew I jinxed the Giants and I did it anyway.
Good news: No I didn’t
We all get lucky, and on Wednesday I was lucky. Oviedo did not have it, which I imagine is the mark of a pitcher who has avoided wins the way I avoided a good night’s sleep from years 18 through 22.
Oviedo lasted just 4 innings, allowing 3 hits, 4 walks, and 2 earned runs. He threw 80 pitches, and 39 of them were balls. He exited with a deficit, ensuring that, even if the Cardinals won, it would not go on his record.
Bad news: The RISP woes continued
The Giants still cannot get a hit with runners in scoring position, and they didn’t waste any time reminding us. They loaded the bases in the first inning, with no outs. LaMonte Wade Jr., walked, Mike Yastrzemski followed suit, and Wilmer Flores loaded the bases with a single.
They did not record a hit. Other than the Flores one I just described, which, you know, didn’t score a run.
The Giants did end the game with three hits with runners in scoring position. But they needed 15 attempts to get there. And as you watched them squander a chance to break the game open in the first inning, against a pitcher struggling in the worst way, you wondered if they’d actually find a way to win.
(Spoiler: they did)
Good news: It’s kind of funny
Hindsight is 20/20, and foibles are no fun when the end result is tarnished. But when they win? Well ... all you can do is laugh. Admittedly I laugh at a lot of things that aren’t funny, and that probably applies here.
The Giants did score a run out of that bases loaded, no outs situation, by the way. They tied the game. It was just that Jason Vosler had to sacrifice his body for the cause.
They teach you to sacrifice your body a lot when you play sports as a kid. They do not teach you how to sacrifice your body when a hard object is flying towards various delicate regions at 96 mph.
And that, along with 100 other reasons, is why I’m on a couch right now.
While we’re speaking of funny things and runners in scoring position, there was an odd, albeit amusing moment in the second inning. Yastrzemski had just had an RBI double to give the Giants a 2-1 lead, and was hanging out on second base.
Oviedo apparently thought that Yastrzemski was stealing signs, and confronted him with a choice four letter word that your iPhone thinks is a water-dwelling bird.
Yaz was not entirely here for it. Roll the tape:
Oh, sorry, that was the alternate angle. Here’s the broadcast view.
Johan Oviedo appeared to tell Yaz to “shut the f--k up” pic.twitter.com/oklNWDbC3G— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) July 8, 2021
Look I’m the leader of the trash talk brigade but uhh ... maybe win a game first, I dunno, I dunno.
Either way, Yaz said after the game that he wasn’t stealing signs, but was, indeed, trying to get in the head of a team that was acting paranoid.
Mike Yastrzemski said he had "zero clue" what the Cardinals' signs were but noticed they kept changing them up as he was at second. So he kept messing with them -- "gotta sell it sometimes." It worked, with Oviedo yelling at him. He got in his head.— Mark W. Sanchez (@MarkWSanchez) July 8, 2021
Yaz noticed the Cards changed signs 3 times when he was on second base. He said he wasn't stealing them & didn't know what was coming, but he leaned into it by gesticulating a bit more to get in their heads. "You've got to sell it sometimes. We're in the entertainment business."— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) July 8, 2021
I love this guy.
Bad news: The Giants left Alex Wood in
I am a big fan of Wood and his lefty funk, but he hasn’t had the best season. And so, given the team’s offensive struggles of late, you might have been critical of the Giants leaving Wood in to hit for himself in the bottom of the fifth inning, with the bases loaded, and a mild-mannered 3-1 lead. It was a risky move.
Good news: The Giants left Alex Wood in
Wood went on to pitch two more innings, allowing only one baserunner — on an infield single. He finished the day with 7 innings, 3 hits, 2 walks, 1 earned run, and 6 strikeouts, and handed a lead to his bullpen. That was enough for Tyler Rogers and Jake McGee, though the former allowed a run.
Bad news: Another injury
It wouldn’t be a 2021 Giants game without an injury, and this time it was Wade, who left the game with a left hand strain after breaking his bat.
I want to assume that’s minor but I know better than to assume at this point.
Good news: More depth
The offense has been swell this year. The pitching has been dynamic. The coaching staff has been elite. The in-game decisions have been solid. The defense has been a chef’s kiss.
But the defining characteristic of a Giants team that is very close to entering the All-Star break with the best record in baseball has been the depth.
So it was fitting that the person who replaced Wade — Darin Ruf — had the biggest hit of the game: a monstrous two-run shot to give the Giants some lovely insurance in the eighth inning.
You take the good with the bad, especially when it’s mostly good.