At first glance, the San Francisco Giants started their Tuesday game against the Miami Marlins in perfect fashion. With a youngster, Edward Cabrera, who was averaging nearly two baserunners per inning on the mound, a path to success was laid out before them.
They took that path in the first inning.
After LaMonte Wade Jr. came a questionable call away from yet another walk, Thairo Estrada hit a one-out single. Perhaps signaling some aggression as the Giants try to force their way out of a slump, Estrada broke for second and successfully nabbed the base.
And then Mike Yastrzemski blasted a two-run bomb.
That was all the scoring they’d do in the inning, but the rest of the at-bats were promising. J.D. Davis singled. Wilmer Flores had a hard out, blasting a 95.6 mph liner into a glove.
Things looked good. Runs are good. First-inning runs are really good.
Except. It seems there’s always an ‘except’ these days.
You remember Wednesday. I know it was a very, very long time ago, but you remember it. The Giants faced their nemesis Clayton Kershaw, looked him in the eye, and bopped two first-inning runs, without breaking eye contact. They added another one in the second, taking a 3-0 lead.
You remember Thursday. It was a bit more recently, though still a long time ago. The Giants didn’t play.
That was a good day.
You remember Friday. Maybe not Friday night, but Friday day. They faced the Detroit Tigers and took a lead on the very first pitch of the game, a home run by Thairo Estrada.
You remember Saturday. It’s the first thing you remember after Friday day. The stuff in between may or may not have even happened. The Giants put together a two-run rally in the first inning against the Tigers, then added on with a homer by Blake Sabol in the second to take a 4-0 lead.
You remember Sunday. Sunday the Giants sat around waiting to play a game that never happened.
That was a good day.
You remember Monday. Monday was yesterday. How crazy is that? Yesterday! How long ago it feels. The Giants opened a series against the Marlins and didn’t score in the first inning. Rejoice! Things were healed! They waited until the second for Heliot Ramos to record his first career RBI, then David Villar tacked on another pair in the third, giving them a 3-0 lead.
So as Yaz rounded the bases with a 2-0 lead while the Marlins still had 27 outs to play with, you’d be forgiven for being filled with more dread than excitement. You’d also be forgiven for misusing the law of averages and thinking there’s no way they could do it again, right?
Oh, sorry, could you not hear me? Let’s try again.
They played the charade for a while. Alex Wood made the Marlins hitters look completely foolish for two innings.
And then came the third inning, where a few of the lug nuts loosened from the wheels, and shot out from the bus like the wheel-mounted laser guns equipped to the 2032 Toyota Supras in Fast and the Furious 22: Drifting Through the Matrix.
After a leadoff double to Jacob Stallings, Wood fielded a bunt by Jean Segura, and made an impressive play to get the out.
And then he did that little walk around that you’ve seen so many times. That walk around that says, “nope, don’t like how that feels.”
A few minutes later he was leaving the game. And a few hours later the Giants were announcing that it was a hamstring injury and he was headed to the IL.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the Giants were designed to withstand this. They’ve been building a five-man rotation out of six starters, with two more starters in the bullpen, and two more on the 40-man roster in Sacramento. The Giants are placing a guy they recently gave two years and $25 million to on the IL and replacing him with a guy they even more recently gave two years and $30 million to. It doesn’t have to hurt, unless you’re Wood’s hamstring.
But it certainly hurt in this game. Wood was dealing, and while there’s no way to prove that he would have continued to deal, there is a way to prove that the player tasked with replacing him, Jakob Junis, would not deal.
Junis has been one of the lone bright spots of the bullpen, but his entrance perfectly aligned with the Marlins activation. He gave up a sacrifice fly to cut the lead in half, and then got out of the inning.
The fourth was not so kind. With the lugnuts abandoned, if was a matter of when, not if the wheels would fly off the bus. The fourth inning was the “when.” Junis quickly got into trouble, allowing runners at the corners with one out. And then Jazz Chisholm Jr., owner of a swing as delightful as his name, attempted to contact extraterrestrial life with a baseball.
A noble quest.
The Marlins led 4-2 and the Marlins would win 4-2.
Along the way the Giants did some notable things, good and bad. Ross Stripling, the aforementioned $30 million man who will take Wood’s spot in the rotation, pitched quite well, which was a nice change of pace. Taylor Rogers, the big offseason bullpen addition who has been dreadful to begin the year, also pitched quite well. J.D. Davis collected his third hit and David Villar collected his fourth strikeout. Yastrzemski collected his second failed attempt at a stolen base of the year, and Blake Sabol collected his third catcher’s interference infraction of the year.
Brett Wisely had his first career at-bats but couldn’t get on base. The Giants struck out 12 times. Their 5-9 hitters hit 0-15 with 10 strikeouts.
We eagerly await the arrival of Mitch Haniger and Austin Slater, and the return of Michael Conforto and Joc Pederson.
And while we wait, we hope the Giants don’t mess around and take any more leads.