There are a few players who have ownage on the San Francisco Giants. There’s nothing the Giants can do against these players except hope that they can make up for it in other areas of the game.
The St. Louis Cardinals have some world-renowned Giants Killers. If you look at all the home runs hit against the Giants since Oracle Park opened in 2000, no one has more than Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado. Second on the list? Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. 111th on the list, tied with long-lasting sluggers like Yadier Molina, Craig Biggio, and Christian Yelich? Paul Goldschmidt in his 28 career at-bats against Tim Lincecum.
So even though the Cardinals are struggling this year, and even though the Giants entered Wednesday’s game having won the first two games of the series, there was a healthy amount of fear.
And indeed, in the first inning, just six pitches into the game, Goldschmidt took Anthony DeSclafani deep to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead (and give Goldy his 29th career homer against the Giants).
And then, on the first pitch of the third inning, Goldschmidt took DeSclafani even deeper to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead (and give Goldy his 30th career homer against the Giants).
I am of the minority mindset that the Giants are actually pretty good and will have a good year. But narratives are still gonna narrative, and this one made too much since. The Giants four-game winning streak would hit a speed bump in the form of multiple Goldschmidt home runs. He’d score more than their entire team, because baseball just works that way sometimes.
Everything else was falling into place accordingly. Austin Slater doubled to lead off the bottom of the first, and stole third base before an out was recorded. He never scored. Blake Sabol committed his fourth catcher’s interference in the second inning, which is a very large number. The Giants left the bases loaded in the third.
The Paul Goldschmidt 2, Giants 0 headlines were already writing themselves, with each writer who covers the team typing with elbows out to get the first timestamp and claim ownership over the unoriginal joke.
And then, because the baseball has emphatically been baseballing lately, the Giants did not fold to Goldschmidt and his silly ways. Instead, LaMonte Wade Jr. — who wasn’t supposed to play in this game because the Giants keep him away from left-handed pitchers the way I keep myself away from recreational colonoscopies — pressed into action as a late replacement for Mike Yastrzemski, broke the narrative with a huge home run in the fourth inning.
It was his first career homer against a southpaw.
That opened the floodgates. Sabol flipped the switch from looking like the guy who committed the catcher’s interference to the guy who hit a walk-off homer the night before, and hit a two-out single, stole second base, and scored on a Slater single, tying the game (Sabol also drew a walk, hit another single, and threw out a batter in the game).
Tie ballgame, you could call it a...— SFGiants (@SFGiants) April 27, 2023
clean Slate pic.twitter.com/3je8PfNcOG
But the Giants had all the momentum, and you looked at the Cardinals the way you looked at the Giants earlier in the year: as a team that might find a unique way to help their opponent out.
And so a day after Thairo Estrada scored when he had a defense-assisted single, stole second, took third when the throw went into center field, and took fourth when the center fielder forgot how to baseball, the Giants once again were in action, ready to prey on a Cardinals team that is good at losing.
It was the fifth inning and there were two outs, and Mitch Haniger was on first base after singling. Wilmer Flores hit a routine fly ball into right-center field, but neither Lars Nootbaar nor Alec Burleson caught said ball, though they did have a cute and awkward little half-hug/half-handshake/half-chest bump instead.
It allowed Haniger to race to third where, following a Jordan Hicks slider that missed the imaginary plate that they put next to the other imaginary plate that they put next to the actual plate, he scored on a wild pitch.
The Giants take the lead on a wild pitch pic.twitter.com/tu4B3d8H8N— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 27, 2023
It was a modest lead but it felt like enough, even when Tristan Beck led off the seventh inning by walking a batter (which he later wiped away with an inning-ending double play).
And after the stretches had been stretched, Flores, seemingly upset that he had to rely on bad defense to get a big hit before, smashed a two-run homer to give the Giants a 5-2 lead.
It was no longer a modest lead, but it still felt like enough, even when Tyler Rogers gave up a single and a walk to start the eighth inning (which he later wiped away with an inning-ending double play).
For a brief moment, you let yourself forget about the Giant Killers. San Francisco kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs in the eighth on an RBI single by Michael Conforto and an RBI triple by Wade.
Silly you. Silly me. Silly all of us.
Sean Hjelle opened the ninth and walked a pair of batters. He got an out, then gave up a double, and it was 7-3. In came Camilo Doval, who promptly walked Nootbaar, loading the bases and bringing the tying run to the plate.
That hypothetical tying run? Paul Goldschmidt, now sitting on 30 home runs against the Giants, and two already in the game.
One pitch, one swing, and one swiftly turned double play later, and the game was over.
7-3 Giants. A 5-game winning streak. A team that suddenly looks like they know how to play baseball.