Let it be known that the San Francisco Giants did a masterful thing when they signed Alex Cobb over the offseason. You can blame Farhan Zaidi for not doing more to keep a 107-win team above .500 the following year. You can criticize Scott Harris, because that’s why we have GMs. You can express disgust at the ownership seemingly having mid-market spending caps.
But regardless of how you feel about other moves, there were a few unquestionably good ones. Signing Carlos Rodón was one. Signing Joc Pederson was one.
And signing Alex Cobb sure as heck was one.
Cobb entered the game eighth in the National League in FIP (minimum 120 innings). That number might go down after Monday’s start, in which he wheeled and dealed his way through seven scoreless innings, allowing just six hits and no walks, earning 18 swings and misses, and striking out seven batters.
None of that should be surprising, because Alex Cobb is very, very good. He’s also very, very under contract for next year, which is excellent.
But while we all could have seen a brilliant Cobb start coming, there was one problem: the pitcher he was up against, Spencer Strider, was No. 1 on that aforementioned list of FIP leaders. By a mile, no less.
Cobb may be having a delightful season, but I feel like the odds of a very good offense (which the Braves have) finding success against a very good pitcher (which Cobb is) is higher than a very mediocre offense (which the Giants have) finding success against a great pitcher (which Strider is).
But, often for better and often for worse, the odds don’t always play out in baseball. And, indeed, for the second time this year, the Giants found success against Strider.
It came in the second inning, when Brandon Crawford singled and Thairo Estrada doubled to set the table. That brought up Willie Calhoun who — months after the Giants traded Steven Duggar for him — was making his debut at-bat as a Giant. He had one of those Oracle Park specialties, where you hit a ball so hard off the bricks that it’s only a single. But it scored a run, and a Luis González single followed to score another run, and the Giants were off and ... err ... running.
They added another in the fifth on a trio of singles (including ones from Crawford and Estrada again). And meanwhile, Cobb just kept humming along, aided by a rather hilarious baserunning mistake in the seventh inning by Michael Harris II, who did the baseball equivalent of texting while driving, and forgot to look at the runner ahead of him before getting caught with nowhere to go. The seventh inning ended, the Giants had a 3-0 lead, and Cobb’s excellent night was done.
It is here where I sidebar, before Zack Littell sidebars for me. The headline is not an implication that Cobb is using any sort of substance. It’s just been a long and largely boring season, and making an obscure pun that only the #VeryOnline will get gives me an excuse to play this utterly delightful video:
Anyway, Zack Littell pitched the eighth, or at least tried to. You could slap a sticker that says “2022 Giants” on it and move right along, but instead I’ll tell you what happened. He allowed a double, then he walked a batter, then he allowed a single, then he allowed another single, and suddenly the score was 3-2 and there were two on with no outs. He stayed in to face a fifth batter, and to his credit got a double play.
That brought up Matt Olson, a very talented hitter who has a handedness advantage against Littell, who was, in case you only skimmed the last paragraph, not pitching well. Gabe Kapler did the thing that would be done by every good manager and most bad managers, too, and called on a lefty. And Littell apparently did not like that, which seems like an odd thing to take umbrage with.
Zack Littell had some words for Gabe Kapler as he was leaving the mound and the two went down the tunnel to talk about it pic.twitter.com/SaaBjLP7zt— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) September 13, 2022
Three things of note:
- We needed this drama, so thank you.
- Duane Kuiper is such a blessing in these moments.
- Austin Wynns appeared to ask Kapler, “What did he say,” and I’m oddly amused by that.
For their part, both Kapler and Littell said the right things, and this looks from the outside like a storm that will quickly pass.
Gabe Kapler addresses what happened with Zack Littell in the eighth inning pic.twitter.com/OferNwCjQU— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) September 13, 2022
Zack Littell says he apologized to Gabe Kapler after tonight's win for his actions in the eighth inning pic.twitter.com/2JerscnWmk— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) September 13, 2022
Scott Alexander came in, got out of the inning, and then got out of the next one too. And that ended the game, giving the Giants a 3-2 win.