Two delightful things happened during the San Francisco Giants game against the Minnesota Twins on Friday night. They both occurred in the eighth inning. They were the only two delightful things that happened, but gosh, they sure were delightful!
In the bottom half of the inning, Austin Wynns took the mound.
You know the guy. Normally a catcher.
It represented an organizational philosophy for the Giants, and baseball as a whole. It used to be that position players pitching was front page news. Fire off an all-caps tweet letting everyone know. Stop what you’re doing and get to the TV.
Now it’s the standard white flag. A position player pitching is just what you do when there’s nothing left to fight for in a game.
So Wynns took the mound. It was the seventh time this year that a Giants position player has thrown a pitch, and heartbreakingly none of those seven times have been Brandon Belt. That’s reason alone to re-sign the Captain.
Wynns needed just 10 pitches, though he did give up a home run. He topped out at a 62-mph slider. He bottomed out at a 37-mph eephus. He worked quickly. I think he’s got a chance to stick. Move on over, Reggie Crawford. There’s a new two-way prospect in the system.
We may be past the point of position players pitching making headlines, but it’s still exciting. It still makes me smile. It’s still something that I just wrote 250 words about because there’s no way in hell I’m gonna talk about the baseball game I just watched.
The other delightful thing occurred in the top half of the inning, when Dave Flemming — how lucky we are to have you, Dave — spent a good 10 minutes planning an itinerary for broadcast partner Shawn Estes for the famous Minnesota State Fair.
There were heart attack-inducing fried foods and panic-inducing rides, and if Estes goes through with Dave’s plan for him, he’ll have a better time than he did watching that godforsaken baseball game, and probably tomorrow’s godforsaken baseball game, too. And if anyone wants to fly me to Minnesota and buy me a ticket to the fair so that I can not watch the Giants again this weekend, I’ll be forever indebted to you.
Prior to that lovely eighth inning, some baseball happened. Alex Wood threw some pitches, and the Twins hit them. Joe Ryan threw some pitches and the Giants did not. It went on like that for quite some time.
The temperature was set immediately. The second hitter that Wood faced, Carlos Correa, banged a massive two-run home run to get the scoring started. Correa was a free agent this past offseason. The Giants weren’t linked to him, but I wanted them to be. Watching him mash a dinger for another team made me think about what the Giants would look like if they had signed him.
I arrived at this conclusion: slightly less truly awful to watch.
Worth it, in my opinion.
In the top of the second, Austin Slater came up to bat with a runner on, and hit an opposite-field fly ball so hard that it would have been a home run at Oracle Park. It was not a home run at Target Field, where the Giants were visiting for the first and hopefully last time.
It could have been a game-tying two-run dinger. Instead it put runners at second and third with one out, a situation the Giants absolutely, positively, without a shadow of doubt failed to capitalize on.
It felt like a turning point in the game. The Twins could have scored no runs, and instead they scored two. The Giants could have scored two runs, and instead they scored none.
And then the game promptly went to hell and never came back. The bottom half of the third inning featured a home run, a double, three singles, a hit batter, and a passed ball. In the time it took him to record three outs, Wood saw his ERA (Earned Run Average) go from 4.61 to 5.00, while you saw your ERW (Estimated Reasons to Watch) go from 2.67 to 0.00, and the Giants laid the ground work to lose 9-0.
Every year, usually in mid-late January or early February, I get an extreme itch for baseball. I wonder how I’ve survived the last few months without watching sliders dive out of the zone, balls barreled on dual-cheek swings, back-handed ground-ball picks, and descriptions from Kruk and Kuip that make you feel at home. I get the intense craving to have that in my life every day of the week.
And now I have the itch to have days without Giants baseball again. We’re so close friends. We’re so close to sweet, glorious, not-baseball season.