Wow, Bob Melvin must be a happy man.
Sure, his San Diego Padres lost 2-1, and yeah, their offense looks like it will have a very difficult time filling the hole left by Fernando Tatis Jr.’s motorcycle, but none of that really matters.
What matters is that Melvin got to engage in a good old respectful afternoon challenge, full of dignity and manners. The San Francisco Giants looked him in the eyes on Wednesday, and shook his hand with a firmness that made Melvin know they were serious. They said “please,” and “thank you,” and referred to Melvin as “sir, and mister.”
They were on their best behavior, that’s what it’s really all about.
There were no bunts or stolen bases while up nine runs, or anything else equally immoral and offensive. There was just good old fashioned baseball, the way the grumpy old dudes like it.
There was even shared respect!
Logan Webb works out with Sean Manaea and they’re friends. They texted each other this week about how nasty the other was in their first start and wished each other luck today. Both pitched extremely well and more important fast.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) April 13, 2022
OK, I’m sorry, I’ve ran this bit into the ground. Let’s talk about the actual game instead of Melvin and Matt Williams, two former Giants turned baseball snowflakes.
The game starts with Logan Webb, who is still growing before our eyes despite having amazingly established himself as one of baseball’s top pitchers in just a year’s time.
Webb was the hero of this game, and he did it the way he always does it: with a lovely blend of stoicism and emotion, a remarkably efficient delivery, and a ball with so much movement that you kind of want to clap for the bad guys anytime they do manage to hit it.
He took a second to get settled in, allowing a double and a triple in the first inning, and needing a nice defensive play by Luke Williams to limit the damage to a single run.
But once he was settled in he was settled in, and retired 22 of the final 24 batters he saw. That resulted in eight glorious innings with just four hits allowed, no walks, and seven strikeouts.
gothim...got him...GOT him...GOT HIIIM pic.twitter.com/KvM5F8kAly— SFGiants (@SFGiants) April 13, 2022
He became the first starting pitcher for any team to pitch in the eighth inning this year, and after setting the side down in order in the eighth, it looked as though he might just be dipping into his best stuff. For all of Webb’s recent brilliance, he’s still in search of his first complete game, and if Wednesday’s contest had happened as early as next week, he would have been afforded that opportunity.
Gabe Kapler said he was “very tempted” to send Logan Webb out for the ninth but Giants starters have been on pitch counts after a short spring training. It’ll be a normal workload for Webb the next time out in New York.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) April 13, 2022
It was a smart move by Gabe Kapler to limit Webb, who was on the brink of 100 pitches, though it would have been absolutely tremendous theater if Kapler sent him out for the ninth inning on the same day that Dave Roberts pulled Clayton Kershaw after seven perfect innings.
The Giants would have been wise to have banked some of Tuesday’s runs for Wednesday, but their mild-mannered output against Sean Manaea was still enough. And thankfully it included a contribution from Mauricio Dubón, whose mug is plastered to every “Wanted” poster in the Padres team bus and plane.
Heliot Ramos led off the second inning with a walk and, following a Thairo Estrada strikeout, Dubón stepped to the plate. Manaea stared down Ramos at first for about 15 seconds, daring Dubi to call timeout, which he eventually did. It’s unclear if Manaea was trying to disrupt Dubón’s rhythm or if it was a passive aggressive showing following Tuesday’s shenanigans, but either way it was extremely satisfying when Dubón jumped on the long-awaited first pitch and lined it into the outfield.
That set the stage for Luke Williams to be a hero.
You always knew Luke Williams would be a hero. When Farhan Zaidi acquires a player you’ve never heard of, who has shown Minor League promise but Major League failure, and looks like a dude, you just know they’ll be the dude at some point in the season.
That some point was Wednesday, when Williams, who had just two plate appearances entering the game, roped a double to give the Giants their only runs of the day.
Yes, Dubón scored the winning run, even if it came in the second inning. It’s almost like every inning matters. Take note, Padres.
I was curious to see who the Giants would turn to for the ninth inning. They’ve eschewed the notion of having a set closer since Spring Training, and while I expect someone to settle into the role eventually, it does seem to be open season right now.
But open season is still leaning Camilo Doval’s way, and so he got his second attempt at the job.
It went better than his first attempt, though it was a touching homage to Brian Wilson’s days in the orange and black.
Doval allowed a one-out single and then, with two outs, walked Eric Hosmer. That made you shift in your chair, and when he hit Jurickson Profar with a pitch as erratic as an RC car being driven by a toddler, you took a nervous bathroom break.
And then he struck out Matt Beaty on four straight 87-mph sliders in virtually the same location.
And that was the ballgame.
I’m starting to sound like a broken record with Doval, whom I like, but it’s worth reminding folks that in AAA last year he had 24 walks and three hit batters in just 30.2 innings. He was brilliant during his final Major League stint last year, but I don’t think we should assume that a career-long issue with freebies just magically dissipated when it was introduced to fog for the first time.
Doval is a critical piece of the bullpen, but some struggles this season shouldn’t be surprising.
Speaking of things that shouldn’t be surprising, the Giants went all in on platooning this game, as they like to do, and it resulted in something you don’t often see: a fully right-handed lineup. That meant sitting Brandon Belt (Brandon Crawford was out with a mild wrist injury). It meant starting all three of Dubón, Williams, and Estrada, the three players all designed to be utility depth around Wilmer Flores, who also started. It meant starting a rookie in Heliot Ramos, and giving Joey Bart a day as the designated hitter.
It didn’t really work, it’s worth noting. The Giants had just four hits and two walks, but it showed that the team values handedness advantage over raw talent, and that means a lot of players are going to get their opportunities. Dubón and Williams and Steven Duggar aren’t just sitting around waiting to creep into the last minutes of a blowout.
After the game, Ramos was sent back to AAA Sacramento, as the Giants should be welcoming Tyler Rogers back from Paternity Leave for Friday’s game against the Cleveland Guardians. Ramos performed admirably in his first MLB stint, but sticking in the Majors this early was never the plan, especially for a team that is all-in on said platoon advantages.
Heliot Ramos is headed back to Triple-A, will join River Cats in Reno. Giants are facing nearly all right-handed pitching on this trip, this seemed to be the plan all along.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) April 13, 2022
He helped the Giants win some games, and now they’re 4-2. It might not seem like much, but they’re on pace to win more than the 107 games they won last year.
Keep the good times going, gang. With rules written and unwritten alike.