Some games are just absolutely perfect. They feature almost no mistakes from either the offense or defense. They’re the kind of lazy Sunday games you throw on in the background while meal-prepping for the week, casually following along on the radio without the same strict tension that might affect other games; the closer ones. You’re not ungrateful for the closer games that make your heart pound and blood rush, because they keep you alive, but sometimes, on a cold Sunday morning (first pitch in Cleveland was at 35 degrees), this kind of game is the perfect balm for the soul.
The San Francisco Giants beat the Cleveland Guardians, 8-1, off the back of another strong starting pitching performance from Alex Wood (5.0+ IP, 0 R/ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 K). But the real hero of this game was the offense, and the real hero of the offense was Thairo Estrada.
A brief run down of Estrada’s season so far: he had a majestic home run in the first game of the season to tie the ballgame when the Giants were down in the bottom of the ninth. Since then, his bat had been rather quiet, his average dipping below .200 and his OPS+ down to 65 during yesterday’s game, but he’s made up for that with generally great defense at 2B. Estrada was acquired from the Yankees during the 2021 season for cash considerations after a DFA.
But today, Estrada got the scoring started off in the top of the second inning with a home run to left field. It wasn’t a stop-and-stare home run—according to Statcast, it had just a .290 xBA and went 380 feet—but it all looks the same on the scoreboard. Wilmer Flores had doubled the previous at-bat, so after two innings, the Giants led 2-0.
Estrada crushes his second homer of the year pic.twitter.com/LIclnccFTS— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 17, 2022
In the top of the fourth inning, two singles by Joc Pederson and Brandon Crawford and a Wilmer Flores walk loaded the bases with one out for Estrada again. He hit the ball softly on the ground to the shortstop, a seemingly inning-ending double play, but the second baseman Owen Miller uncorked a wild throw to first base that skirted across the glove of Bobby Bradley and went into the dugout, allowing two runs to score and giving Estrada his next two RBIs. Duggar flew out to end the threat, but Aaron Civale’s night was done after just four innings. He allowed four runs (three earned) and threw 74 pitches.
Two runs score on the wild throw pic.twitter.com/eH7oHldbuT— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 17, 2022
In the sixth inning, Joc Pederson singled again to set up a runner on base for Estrada, who, you guessed it, came through with an RBI double to score Pederson before being sent home himself on a Steven Duggar single. The score was 6-0 Giants after 6.
DO IT ALL YOURSELF THAIRO pic.twitter.com/FlV6GhKcll— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 17, 2022
In the seventh inning, Brandon Belt decided it wasn’t fair that Estrada was having all the fun as Estrada had been involved in all six of the Giants’ runs to that point, so after a Slater walk to lead off the top of the inning, Belt smashed a ball to right field. It was 109mph off the bat, went 384 feet, and had an xBA of 1.000.
Belt BLAST pic.twitter.com/yXzzreKerq— SFGiants (@SFGiants) April 17, 2022
As for the starting pitching, Wood turned in another fantastic performance. He struck out five across five strong frames. He opened the sixth inning but allowed a single and a walk to open the frame, and Kapler turned to his bullpen to end the threat. Zack Littell entered and immediately got a popup and a double play, saving Wood’s scoreless frame.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Guardians got their lone run when Tyler Beede replaced Littell. Beede walked the leadoff batter, Amed Rosario, then allowed two singles from Oscar Mercado and Austin Hedges, which brought Rosario home. However, he limited the damage to just the one run, and then stayed in for a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Many of the Giants games have been close, so it’s been difficult to get Beede in the game, but as May draws nearer and rosters constrict, the Giants will have to decide what they want to do with Beede, who is out of options. He ended the night with 2.0 IP, 1 R/ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 0 K.
Sam Long also made an appearance, allowing no hits or walks and striking out one in the top of the ninth inning. He is also a potential victim of roster constriction, so as much work as possible is useful.
But on this fine Easter Sunday, the real hero of the game was Thairo Estrada, who was involved in six of the Giants’ eight runs. The Giants complete the sweep of a good Guardians team, bringing their overall record to 7-2 and starting out their 11-game road trip 3-0. They fly to New York next to face the Mets, who are 7-3.
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