I would like to thank the San Francisco Giants. It hasn’t been a good season for them. It’s been a bad enough season that we should all be circling Wednesday on our calendars, for that is when it all mercilessly comes to an end.
But we’re not. We’re still watching, because the Giants have managed to remind us that baseball is pretty freaking cool, and it’s awful darned fun, and really, despite what we say behind its back (and sometimes to its face), we love it dearly.
The Giants have reminded us of that through playing well, such as Thursday night, when they beat the Colorado Rockies 6-4 to win for the ninth time in their last 10 games, and draw to .500 for the first time since August 23.
The Giants have reminded us of that through superstar performances, such as Thursday night, when Carlos Rodón, making perhaps his final appearance at Oracle Park as a Giant, struck out 10 of the 20 batters he faced in six thoroughly dominant innings.
And the Giants have reminded us of that through feel good stories, such as Thursday night, when ... hold up, let’s just head back in time and check out the second inning.
It’s a scoreless game, and the Giants are facing righty Ryan Feltner, who is making just the 20th start of his career. Brandon Crawford leads off the inning with a single. Thairo Estrada follows up with a walk. Jason Vosler does the same, and suddenly the bases are loaded with no outs.
It’s a situation the Giants have been in many times this year, and it’s a situation they’ve failed in many times this year.
But not this time. Austin Wynns hit a ball soft enough that no one could catch it, and it brought home a run while maintaining the same situation: bases loaded, no outs.
Up came Ford Proctor.
Proctor made his MLB debut a few days prior, and had all of 10 plate appearances to his name, including just one hit, a single.
Up he came with a chance to do something special. You can probably guess by the headline and the lead up that he did, indeed, do something special. Something grand, you might even say.
THE PROCTOR WILL SEE YOU NOW ⚕️ pic.twitter.com/itBQfWUncs— SFGiants (@SFGiants) September 30, 2022
It was a feel good moment. A rookie collecting his first career home run, with the bases loaded, in front of a happy home crowd, and jumping around the bags in excitement as he ran. It made you feel warm and fuzzy.
First career home run ✅— SFGiants (@SFGiants) September 30, 2022
First career grand slam ✅ pic.twitter.com/9wcAnU6Ksn
It also compelled me to remind you that Proctor is more than just a one-day feel-good story. Fangraphs has him ranked as the team’s No. 15 prospect. Why the Tampa Bay Rays only wanted Jeremy Walker in exchange for him is anyone’s guess, but Proctor, who has outstanding bat-to-ball skills, could be next year’s Tommy La Stella.
And when I say “Tommy La Stella,” I mean, “What the Giants were hoping they’d get when they signed Tommy La Stella,” and not “What Tommy La Stella actually is.” Or at least that’s what I’m hoping for.
I would assume that Proctor survives the 40-man purge in the coming months, and I would assume he starts 2023 in AAA because he has options, and I would assume he spends plenty of next year in the Majors.
I assume a lot of things that are wrong though, so maybe don’t put too much stock into that.
On the other side, Rodón was brilliant. What’s there to say? You’ve watched the guy all year. You know how special he is. You know that he’s as deserving of Cy Young votes as anyone. You know he’s going to get a mammoth contract this offseason and you hope it comes from the Giants even though you know it probably won’t.
The Giants have him on a pitch count restriction to end the year, so that A) he doesn’t get injured and opt into next year as on unplayable pitcher, and B) so that he’s fresh and healthy next year if they do re-sign him.
But he still pitched six innings, giving up a mere two hits. He walked nobody. He hit nobody. He allowed no runs. He struck out half of the people he faced.
With the 10-strikeout performance, Rodón has now reached double-digit strikeouts 11 different times this year. To put that in perspective, the 2019, 2020, and 2021 Giants combined to have 10 games where a pitcher recorded double-digit strikeouts (for those keeping score at home: Kevin Gausman x5, Logan Webb x2, Madison Bumgarner, Drew Smyly, and Drew Pomeranz).
If this was his penultimate start as a Giant, I will be sad. If it wasn’t, then I will celebrate, because what a joy it has been watching him make professional hitters look foolish every fifth day.
The Giants had it on cruise control until the ninth inning, which they entered leading 6-0. Jharel Cotton had breezed through the seventh and eighth, but hiccuped at the sight of the ninth. John Brebbia replaced him and immediately gave up a home run, then some more stuff. Camilo Doval, whom Gabe Kapler really didn’t want to use, came in and put a swift end to the nonsense.
The Giants are good right now, and while that’s still not going to earn them a 163rd game this season, it certainly made the final Thursday night of the season worth tuning in for.