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Giants tee off on Merrill Kelly

Evan Longoria homered twice, and the Giants beat the Diamondbacks 10-4.

Evan Longoria rounding the bases with a dejected Merrill Kelly behind him Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants took the field on Friday night to host the Arizona Diamondbacks with a four-game winning streak at stake, and a shot to move above .500 for the first time since August 17.

The first half of the first inning didn’t make you think they’d get there. Alex Cobb struggled, allowing a one-out walk followed by back-to-back singles. He limited the damage to one run, but needed 23 pitches to get there.

It’s not that a 1-0 deficit is insurmountable. It’s just that the guy in the other dugout was Merrill Kelly. The same Kelly who had made five starts against the Giants this year. Here’s how those five went:

6.1 innings, 2 runs
7 innings, 2 runs
8 innings, 0 runs
7 innings, 0 runs
7 innings, 2 runs

The Giants could survive Cobb not having it. It just didn’t seem like they could survive Cobb not having it against that guy.

But as 2022 has shown us over and over again, I know absolutely nothing and you shouldn’t ever listen to a damn word I say, seriously how have you not learned this yet baseball is silly.

And so the Giants started the bottom half of the inning with a Joc Pederson walk. And with one out, Wilmer Flores singled. And the next batter, Mike Yastrzemski, drove a ball to right field that was just about an inch too far for Jake McCarthy to catch, resulting in a run-scoring double.

Those are the types of on-the-margin breaks the Giants got extensively in 2021. And they’re the types they’re getting again now, as they’re apparently the best team in baseball, with 10 wins in their last 11 games.

The next batter was Evan Longoria. I’ve been wondering how Longoria feels these days. He has to be curious as to what his future holds. The Giants are mulling whether to spend $13 million to bring him back next year, or $5 million to send him into retirement. They’ve already re-signed Flores. They’ve added J.D. Davis, who, when donning a Giants jersey, seems to be the best hitter in baseball this side of his 2023 teammate Aaron Judge. And they’ve got David Villar, hitting enough homers to make you think he can’t be sent back to Sacramento.

And yet despite all that — and despite his recent slump — Longoria has been, by most metrics, the best player of those four this year, when healthy. But he has to know that his career could come to an end in the next week.

I’d say he came into the batter’s box thinking all that, but in reality he probably didn’t. He probably came into the batter’s box thinking, lay off the soft stuff, wait for a fastball over the plate, and see if you can put it in the bleachers, and then that’s exactly what he did.

But the fun was just starting. After Cobb worked his way through a messy but scoreless second, Pederson led off for the second straight inning and had perhaps the funniest hit of the year. No, no perhaps about it. Absolutely the funniest hit of the year.

I’m going tell and then show, just so you can appreciate it fully when you first watch it. Pederson lifted a fly ball to right field. He thought he got under it, so he did the moody teenager jog to first base. Right as he got to first base he realized McCarthy might not catch it and, indeed, it was about an inch too far for McCarthy once more.

The ball banged off the bricks and Pederson turned on the lightning and rounded second. He put on the brakes, downshifted, and started easing into third, right as there was a relay flub. He briefly got the signal to come home, started up his engine, got the halt signal, did that dance where you’re stuck between the gas and the brakes at a yellow light, almost stalled, checked to see where the ball was, overruled his third base coach, and ran home.

Just your garden variety Little League home run.

The scorekeeper ruled it a triple with an error, which brought up, once again, how odd baseball is. Through the first 1,011 games of his career, Pederson hit 10 triples. In the last four games, he has three.

Similar to my sister, I do not understand this sport, but I love it dearly.

The oddities extended in the inning. After two outs, Yastrzemski hit a foul pop up that D-Backs rookie Corbin Carroll tried to chase down, only to collide with the foul line guard who couldn’t figure out how to move away from the one spot where the ball was headed towards.

Carroll likely would have caught the ball and ended the inning. Instead, the at-bat lived on, Yaz walked, and Longoria made it two home runs in as many innings.

Suddenly the Giants, who had scored scored just six runs in 35.1 innings against Kelly, had put seven on him before the second inning was over.

And they weren’t done tagging him. After Arizona scored a few runs, Yastrzemski, who had excellent at-bats all night, popped a ball over the fence.

Poor Kelly. It’s always a sad thing to watch when a pitcher is left to die on the mound. When the manager has decided it’s better to just give up on the game than use anyone in the bullpen. Which is how Kelly ended up with the ultra-rare stat line of throwing 102 pitches and giving up eight runs, before he was mercilessly removed from the game.

The Diamondbacks tacked another run on Cobb, who didn’t really have it (but very much had it, relative to Kelly), but the Giants answered against the D-Backs bullpen, including with another homer, this time by Austin Wynns.

And from there they coasted to a 10-4 victory.

Now on to a few fun and random tidbits.

First, this happened:

A fan makes a funny face as a foul ball hits the screen in front of him and a Diamondbacks outfielder tries to catch it

Second, this happened:

And third, this happened:

Congrats, Wilmer. We’re so happy you’re a Giant.