I write to you from the bottom of the 2nd inning in the series finale of the San Francisco Giants against the Atlanta Braves. First pitch was nearly an hour ago. I am on my couch picking at grocery store sushi. The bases are loaded. The Braves are already up 5-1. Alex Wood has thrown 30 pitches without recording an out, spending most of his time pounding his cleats into the hardening clay of the pitcher’s mound in mounting frustration. Slider after errant slider is spiked in the dirt.
Update: Zach Littell has relieved Wood and earned two outs on two pitches. Life is funny sometimes. Often cruel. I can only imagine the damage Alex Wood is causing to the visitor’s clubhouse right now.
3rd inning. Darin Ruf has grounded into the Giants third double play. Somehow San Francisco has “outhit” the Braves these first innings: 6 hits to 4. All singles. All erased after routine ground balls to middle infielders. My sushi is done. Minor acid reflux experienced. Or is it heartburn?
4th inning. Another double play. Dave Fleming, his voice rising, notes that it is not possible for a team to ground into more double plays in four innings. The math checks out.
My internet gives out and the TV screen goes black. A needed respite. I gleefully take my time re-establishing wireless connection and reloading the MLB TV app where I catch a peek of the Dodgers-Reds score: 5 - 0 LA. Nice. The game returns and in my absence Dansby Swanson has hit another home run. Travis d’Arnaud promptly followed it with a double. 7 - 1 Braves. Cool.
5th inning. Dansby is a terrible name. No offense to the Swanson family—it’s just a whiff for me. I wonder if that was hard for him as a kid growing up in Georgia. I guess it might sound better with a thick accent, a syrupy drawl: Dans-bee. I bet a lot of kids just called him Danny.
My dad wanted to call me Booker but my mom, who’s a school teacher, thought kids would call me “Booger” instead. Thanks mom. Oh look, Austin Slater hit a home run!
No double play this inning. You have to celebrate the small victories. What’s the record for most double plays grounded into in a game?
Excuse me while I google this.
Ok I googled it. It looks like the record is 7 double-plays. The Pittsburgh Pirates did it most recently in 2018 against the Chicago Cubs. They tied the record set in May of 1969 by—get this—our San Francisco Giants! Here’s the box score. Juan Marichal took the 3-1 loss against the Houston Astros. S.F. still “out-hit” their opponent 9 to 6. History is a wheel.
We are going into the 6th, the Giants could possibly break that 7 GIDP record if they don’t miss an opportunity in their next four ups.
6th inning. The Giants just traded Steven Duggar to the Rangers for Willie Calhoun. I suppose Duggar was the odd outfielder out with the surging Luis González and the imminent return of LaMonte Wade Jr.
Though Calhoun plays left field, he is more of a designated hitter than anything. His numbers aren’t the shiniest, but there’s some latent power in his bat. He hit 21 home runs in 300 at-bats in 2019. Another match-up card in Kapler’s hand to play in high leverage situations.
Wait...things are actually happening for the Giants right now. Bases loaded. Thairo Estrada hits a ground ball too weak to be turned into a double play. Run in. Hell yeah.
La Stella’s slap down the left field line kicks up into the stands, forcing Estrada, who was on first, back to third. Score now 7 - 4. The game is suddenly...close?
Bases loaded again with two outs. One swing could put the Giants on top annnnnddddd…Yaz strikes out. Number four on the day. I hate seeing him sad. I once saw him play in Portland, Maine for the double-A Bowie Baysox back in 2017. He played a carom off Portland’s mini Green Monster in left and threw a runner out at second, just like his grandpa. His average has taken a nosedive since he shaved his Zappa stache. Some things are too good to let go of.
Bottom of the 6th. Bases loaded with one out. This could be the proverbial nail in the coffin for San Francisco. The top of the lineup for the Braves has had a day and Jarlín García is burnt going into his second inning of work. This is his mess to clean-up with Brebbia, McGee and Rogers having pitched last night. It’s also a cross country travel day with a game tomorrow. Kapler needs to preserve the staff for the weekend series against the Reds and I get the feeling that Kap has tacitly conceded this one to Atlanta.
Win or lose, San Francisco hasn’t had a laid-back game since their 6-2 win against Kansas City last Monday. There’s probably something to be said about the Giants choosing not to burn themselves out trying to claw their way back into this game.
That being said, the extended and effective work of Littell and García with some run support has made this game way more interesting than it originally was.
8th inning. Another lead-off runner. Another single. Another single. The Giants are oddly one swing away again from tying this game.
Weird. Slater was just ten feet from tying this game. Long RBI single off the right field wall. 13 hits total—one away from the 14 they laced in Tuesday’s 12-10 win.
Yaz up again in a big 2-out spot. He unfortunately didn’t re-grow his mustache since his at-bat in the 6th and flies out to fairly deep center field. He’s left 6 runners on base. This is now a 2-run game.
Sammy Long finished up two shut-out innings. Take away Wood’s outing in the second inning and the Giants have a good chance at winning this game. Or erase last night’s 9th—two bad innings. Of course, that isn’t how life works…but like, what if it did?
9th inning. Joc Pederson crushes a solo shot into the Chophouse patio in right. This series was always going to end on his terms. He’s got his pearls on.
Not an ideal final score, but Joc absolutely destroyed this ball pic.twitter.com/WSLFe2FZUf— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) June 23, 2022
The San Francisco Giants somehow crawled back into this finale and that just makes the loss hurt worse. What’s most disappointing is there were avenues and back alleys and pedestrian walkways and interstates to win each game in this Atlanta series and they only made out with one.