Sign of the apocalypse: The San Francisco Giants have a winning streak.
The consecutive wins drought is over. For the first time in 2023 and in 7 months, San Francisco has bagged two W’s consecutively.
Is it the end times? Have the waters of McCovey Cove turned red? Or are the Giants just playing more and more like a cohesive baseball team?
It’s hard to say—but strange, atypical things have certainly been afoot this past weekend at Oracle, culminating in Sunday’s back-and-forth San Francisco 5-4 win.
The series split against a talented New York Mets roster seemed like a pipe dream after being outscored 16 - 4 in the first two games on Thursday and Friday. The most jaded (or possibly most reasonable) of fans might’ve started watching this game through anxious fingers with the banged-and-battered Ross Stripling taking the hump for his 2nd start and 5th appearance on the season.
Sunday’s Stripling was a different Stripling we had seen.
Don’t get too excited though: it wasn’t a Princess Diaries transformation with Strip removing his glasses to reveal that he wasn’t the nerd we all thought he was. It was much subtler. Or maybe it was just the fact that he didn’t completely crap the bed in dicey situations.
Ross Stripling is encouraged by the progress he is making on the mound pic.twitter.com/34OmZawrkF— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 24, 2023
The outing wasn’t dominant. He threw 67 pitches and recorded one out in the 4th inning. There was a lot of red-hot contact off New York bats, and he struggled putting hitters away in high-leverage counts with a sparse amount of swing-and-miss. Stripling generated 26 swings and missed only 3 bats. The last batter he faced was the first one he fanned in the start.
Again let’s not be picky. This wasn’t a Clark Kent-to-Superman leap, but he kept the ball in the zone and the ball in the park (which is impressive for a 2023 Giants pitcher) and dodged lethal damage in two bases loaded situations in the 2nd and 4th.
His final line: 3.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 1 K.
San Francisco scored runs in back-to-back innings to give Stripling an early lead.
After missing 9 games on the IL, Joc Pederson lined a 2-out RBI single over in his first at-bat back. Check out the go-pro angle.
Thairo Estrada then golfed his 4th home run of the season into the bleachers to lead-off the 2nd.
The Mets responded in the 3rd. Two quick outs turned into two quick hits off Stripling and New York’s first run. Starling Marte turned on an 0-2 sinker that found too much of the plate, and promptly scored on the next pitch to Francisco Lindor who doubled to left.
In the top of the 4th, the first three hitters reached base. After pitching coach Andrew Bailey came out and advised Stripling to empty the tank, he bagged his first K against 21-year old catcher Francisco Alvarez a strikeout before Taylor Rogers took the ball.
It wasn’t a seamless transition from starter to bullpen, but the damage could’ve been worse. Way worse.
The similarly struggling Rogers (nearly a 17.00 ERA between him and Strip) did some solid work to keep the New York threat from getting out of hand.
Rogers couldn’t cash in the third strike against Mark Canha who lifted a sacrifice fly into right, but he did keep his cool when right fielder Michael Conforto dropped Canha’s can of corn, setting up another opportunity for situational hitting (a forté of these Mets).
Nimmo’s subsequent sacrifice tied the game at 3, but Rogers fanned Starling Marte to end the inning.
It wasn’t the first time a defensive error sent San Francisco whistling up to the edge of a precipice. Striplings failed to pick up a soft grounder up the first base line, which set up a bases loaded situation with 1-out in the 2nd. Stripling was able to induce a double play to end the inning.
Two defensive blunders not leading to game-ending rallies = sign of the apocalypse.
On cue: Michael Conforto drops a fly ball in RF for an error. Reports of the Giants' fixed defense were premature. https://t.co/4Fn9e8MScg— Danny Emerman (@DannyEmerman) April 24, 2023
Another sign: after forfeiting a lead, Giants bats reclaim said lead the following half-inning.
With one-out and a runner on third, San Francisco has notoriously struggled in these moments of situational hitting in which putting the ball in play will likely score a run. Free swinging Blake Sabol, who has missed 44% of the pitches he has swung at, pounced on the first pitch he saw from starter Tylor Megill for an RBI single to left.
Crawford then scored from 3rd on what typically would’ve been an inning-ending double play if not for a botched exchange by shortstop Lindor.
RHP Megill’s outing was done after the 4th, allowing 4 runs on 6 hits and 1 BB.
Sign of the apocalypse: Giants had only struck out twice through 4 innings. Though relievers Jeff Brigham and Brooks Raley quickly returned S.F.’s K-train back to its tracks by striking out 7 over the next 9 outs in relief.
The Mets re-tied the game at 4 in the 6th on a solo shot by the rookie Alvarez. It was the young catcher’s fourth hit of his career and first one to leave the park.
It was also Tyler Rogers first run of 2023 allowed. The submariner cruised through 1.2 innings of relief, slinging risers into the afternoon shadows, having quickly struck out the first 2 batters in the 5th on 6 pitches before Alvarez swatted a first pitch slider two inches above the letters over the left field wall. So it goes in the great game of wiffle ball.
Mike Yastrzemski’s double broke the tie in the bottom of the 8th.
Sign of the apocalypse: Joc Pederson scoring from first on a ball that doesn’t reach the warning track.
Joc Pederson on his slide: “I just kind of rolled, I don’t know.” pic.twitter.com/yatWqK1StW— Danny Emerman (@DannyEmerman) April 24, 2023
After Pederson’s 1-out walk against reliever Drew Smith, Yaz stayed on a trailing change-up and lined it into the right-center gap. Pederson basically had a 2-out jump with one-out. Smith wasn’t giving him the time of day and Joc had a nice secondary lead and great read of the hit. Even with Nimmo tracking down the ball before the warning track and a pretty seamless relay, Pederson barreled over home plate without a tag.
Signs of the apocalypse: the bullpen pitched 5.2 innings of 1-run baseball in a close game.
After the twins, John Brebbia linked up with Rogers to 1-2-3 New York’s 2-4-5 hitters in the 7th. Scott Alexander induced three ground ball outs on 9 pitches. Camilo Doval sealed the W on 9 pitches for a breezy 9th.
Five different relievers shut down New York bats for 17 outs, allowing only 2 hits while striking out 9 and handing out 0 walks.
San Francisco winning streak—maybe the not the end times, but definitely uncanny.