Riding the high of the recent 2012 World Series reunion, San Francisco took the field at Comerica Park behind their ace Carlos Rodón feeling pretty pretty pretty good about things. A back-and-forth knee slapper on Sunday riding the recent boon of veteran Evan Longoria followed by an off day then a brief two-game series against a 47-76 Tiger team punctuated by highlights and anecdotes from that memorable championship sweep—why not feel loose?
At least that was the vibes as I watched the game on the living room couch of my in-laws house in New York. What were you all up to?
Based on contact, San Francisco’s bats were also feeling good against Detroit starter Drew Hutchinson. Loud contact was heard all night. The fact that they were more hang-with-’ems than base hits didn’t cause much concern. Ain’t a problem. The runs will come.
Joc Pederson laced a two-out single rescuing the 1st inning after a double play ball from Wilmer Flores. The score stayed 1-0 for the next 5 innings as Rodón put together another dominant performance.
After Riley Greene slapped a single against the shift to start Detroit’s evening, Rodón retired the next 13 batters in order before Harold Castro singled with two outs in the 5th.Over 7 innings, he scattered 5 hits, walked none and allowed 1 run while striking out 10.
It was his 8th double-digit K performance of the year and his fourth in his last six starts. His 189 K’s on the season is a career high and tied for the best in MLB.
Detroit’s only run came in the 7th and were assisted by a lazy pop fly off the bat of Javier Báez that somehow found the outfield grass to lead off the inning. He stole second and came in to score on an Eric Haase single.
But at that point, the run was arbitrary: Longoria had launched a 2-run homer in the 6th to put San Francisco up 3-0 and the Tiger run was just an annoying itch on an otherwise unblemished evening.
Longo extends the Giants' lead with a two-run blast pic.twitter.com/nmh2Bc7NSR— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) August 24, 2022
I don’t know why I was so relaxed watching this game. Nothing about watching this team should make you comfortable. They’re historically stingy with offense when Rodón is on the mound. Why? No reason. Just cuz.
As sharp as some of the contact was tonight, the bats went cold against Hutchinson after that first inning. After Longoria homered off of Daniel Norris, three Tiger relievers posted three hitless innings to keep the game close.
Maybe it was a tacit understanding that no matter what happened in this game, it wouldn’t change the outcome of the Giants season. I know intellectually that the team isn’t eliminated from the playoffs, but the physical slackness of carefree late-summer fandom seems to have settled somewhere in my bones. I just took the evening to savor a brutish and huffy Rodón start. Man they’re fun to watch and the good lord knows the way he’s pitching and the history of the front office in regards to long term pitcher contracts, his days in the Bay are numbered.
But it’s funny how the complexion of a game can change in a plate appearance. Four pitches into Riley Greene’s at-bat against Camilo Doval and nothing felt safe anymore and everything was questioned. How is this game not in the bag yet? How did San Francisco only score 3 runs? How did they only have 4 at-bats with runners in scoring position?
And boy, when Doval is wild, he is WILD and lets you know immediately. The natural movement he gets on his sinkers and cutters is obscene. He can’t throw the ball straight, and now he’s got a reputation for it around the league. The M.O. for hitters facing Doval is TAKE until he shows you he can put it over the plate.
If the Tigers had stuck to that game plan, they might have walked—I mean walked—away with the win. For most of the 9th, it was like the middle of the plate had a magnetic force field around it. No matter how emphatically catcher Austin Wynns set up in the heart of the zone, Doval couldn’t hit it.
Luckily, Greene chased off the plate in a full count and grounded to short for the first out. Victor Reyes doubled, free-swing Báez eeked out a dribbler up the line for a single, and Haase walked on four pitches to load the bases for Miguel Cabrera.
The moment was not lost on Dave Fleming or Javy Lopez in the broadcast booth: the future Hall of Famer, the solitary holdout from that 2012 Tiger team and the last out of game four and the series, who infamously was looking slider and watched a 2-strike two-seamer from Sergio Romo skirt back into the zone, know back in the box with the chance to do damage.
The moment—no matter how ultimately insignificant—somehow held weight. Of course, Cabrera would come up with the big hit to steal the win and completely and utterly destroy any chance of the Giants to make the postseason. He would be the one to ring the bell…it’d only be right.
I’m making too much out of this. It wasn’t an at-bat a decade in the making—not even close—but this is my job. This is important...and you know Cabrera was thinking about it too.
The battle took 9 pitches. It ended with Cabrera looking—still looking after all these years—at a high slider that scraped the outside edge of the plate.
It was only the second out of the inning, but that ended the game for the Tigers just as it did a decade ago.