A funny thing happened at the start of the San Francisco Giants Tuesday night game against the Houston Astros. The Giants were facing off against young righty Hunter Brown, a 24 year old who entered the game having not allowed a single home run in his 50.2 career innings.
Zero. Zip. Nada.
Brown had faced 200 batters. 37 of them had gotten hits, but none of them had hit home runs. 13 of them had scored, but none of them had hit home runs.
To show how remarkable this is, consider where the Giants pitchers were entering the game. They’d faced 1,083 batters on the year. They’d given up 41 home runs. That’s one home run every 26.4 batters.
Brown had faced 200 batters. He’d given up zero home runs.
Something would have to give. The Giants were third in the Majors in home runs entering the game. They’d break Brown’s streak and win, or they wouldn’t, and they’d lose.
Except that’s when the funny thing happened. Dave Flemming had barely finished sharing that anecdote about Brown’s ability to avoid the long ball when Thairo Estrada hit an infield single, stole second base, and scored on a flop shot impersonation of a bloop by Joc Pederson, giving the Giants a 1-0 lead just three batters into the game. The Giants looked the home run suppressant dead in the eyes and say, “You know what? Fine. Small ball it is.”
Joc with a knock pic.twitter.com/nnIEukQX3J— SFGiants (@SFGiants) May 3, 2023
It didn’t do much for them, honestly, but it was still oddly encouraging. They worked five walks out of Brown, finishing the game with more walks (nine) than strikeouts (seven). They forced him to throw 96 pitches, knocking him out of the game just one out into the fifth inning, and forcing a taxed bullpen to get even more taxed.
But they couldn’t do much quantifiable damage, with a run-scoring double by Blake Sabol — nearly the first ever home run ceded by Brown — putting the only other notch on the scoreboard.
Extra bases for Blake ✌️ pic.twitter.com/duzYVMPxzw— SFGiants (@SFGiants) May 3, 2023
It was enough. Somehow it was more than enough.
Because Anthony DeSclafani continues to have the kind of year that we’ll look back on and point at if the Giants do figure this whole thing out.
DeSclafani’s performance wasn’t as box score dominant as Alex Cobb’s recent complete game shutout. He only pitched eight innings. He only struck out three batters.
But when you consider the quality of the opponent and the fact that the Giants were on a four-game losing streak and reeling in a big, big way, I feel confident calling this the best pitching performance of the season for the Giants.
The Giants have been painfully masterful at ruining a good thing this year, and DeSclafani didn’t put them in a position where that could happen. He didn’t walk a batter. He didn’t hit a batter. He gave up just three hits, facing just three batters more than the minimum. He faced all of five batters with a runner in scoring position. Five of his eight innings were three up, three down.
Great for 8 pic.twitter.com/l70W3UkPZ6— SFGiants (@SFGiants) May 3, 2023
It was stress-free, even if you were not. You couldn’t accept that it was stress-free until you had the hindsight to prove it. You couldn’t accept that anything was stress-free with the Warriors game starting. You couldn’t accept that the Giants could win a stress-free game.
In that regard, it wasn’t stress-free at all.
But DeSclafani made it as stress free as it could be, and Camilo Doval, despite going 3-2 to multiple batters, never allowed the tying run to reach the plate.
101 ⛽️— SFGiants (@SFGiants) May 3, 2023
(#SFGiants x @CoronaUSA) pic.twitter.com/b0xxbZoxLE
A 2-0 win isn’t dominant. But for a flailing team in search of a star performance — against a pitcher that was unlikely to afford them one — it’s the best anyone could hope for.