I feel like the Washington Nationals owe Gabe Kapler and the San Francisco Giants an apology, or some kind of Thank You fruit basket after their 14-4 win Friday night. Don’t the Nats know it’s rude to score 10 more runs than your opponent, especially if you’re a guest in their ballpark? Terrible manners. Simply uncouth!
But yeah, Friday night was not great. After a week (sorry I’m about to make this about me right now) of herding fourth graders through adding fraction strategies, ancient civilization research (opening sentence from one student: “Ancient Greece is located in Russia”), and a truly groundbreaking play-told-through-tableau about the power of storytelling, I was ready to vicariously—and in good faith—beat-up on some cellar dwellers. That didn’t happen.
The Nats tallied 22 hits off of Alex Wood and company, only striking out 7 times. They put the ball in play all night, strung hits together and scored 8 of their 14 runs with 2 outs. They were Mr. Hyde to last weekend’s Dr. Jekyll. At times, Alcides Escobar was spinning me into flashbacks of the 2015 Kansas City Royals: a constant stream of base runners going from first to third on singles to right-center.
I don’t think Alex Wood necessarily had an off night either. His velocity wasn’t down. He walked only one batter. 62 of his 86 pitches were strikes and he was in the zone early in counts.
With his funk and pace, the edge a pitcher like Wood has over hitters is dulled when he faces them twice in one week. The Nationals were familiar with his style. They had a game plan, looking for strikes and looking to disrupt his rhythm.
Juan Soto’s at-bat against Wood in the first inning set the tone for the night.
Giants pitching had neutralized Soto in the previous series. He was 2 for 12 across three games with 0 RBIs and 0 BBs. That doesn’t happen to Soto. And if it does, it doesn’t happen for long.
Quickly down 2 strikes to Wood, Soto tries to disrupt the pitching pace by requesting a late time call. It’s granted and it’s definitely late which irks Wood which Soto finds pleasing.
I don’t like it when someone hits a home run against the Giants, but it is a joy to watch a Juan Soto at-bat. He isn’t coy—he states his intentions with the pitcher the moment he steps in the box: I want to live inside your brain. All his extra movements, his stares, his stretch and shimmy and stride are all part of his game. A dance of distraction and gamesmanship and annoyance. If he could sit on home plate he would.
Braxton Crawford, Recruiting Coordinator pic.twitter.com/CEafo6i0Wo— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) April 30, 2022
As a fan, that’s fun to watch and it worked. It got to Alex Wood and his solo shot in the first may have won it for the Nationals right then and there.
What do we do with Friday night’s game? Just forget it bro. Throw your hands up in the air and let it all wash away.
MASSIVE wave happening at at Oracle right now pic.twitter.com/MyRSmVlEle— KNBR (@KNBR) April 30, 2022
The Giants bullpen wasn’t sharp. The top of the line-up was missing Mike Yastrzemski and Brandon Belt to the COVID-IL, Joc Pederson is day-to-day with an adductor strain—the lefty fastball munchers that are normally there to face someone like Nationals starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez were absent.
It was one loss—there will be more, but it’d be nice to see the arms reset Saturday with Logan Webb on the mound. The Nationals are a Major League baseball team, which means they can beat any other Major League Baseball team on any given night. That’s just how the sport works—but this series is one the Giants want to win. It’s early in the season and I don’t really want to scoreboard watch in late-April but...do you remember how the Giants won the National League West by one game last season?