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New and old Giants pile on firsts in 7 - 5 win over Miami

Recent call-ups Patrick Bailey and Ryan Walker helped spark Sunday’s win against the Marlins.

MLB: Miami Marlins at San Francisco Giants Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

It was a day of firsts for the San Francisco Giants in their 7 - 5 win over the Miami Marlins.

A day after Patrick Bailey stroked his first hit in the Majors, the catcher launched his first home run: a no-doubt tater that left his bat at 107 MPH to knot the game up at 1 run apiece in the 2nd.

He also sac bunted in an insurance run in the 6th.

First long ball, first safety squeeze, first and second rib-eyes—oh! He also had his first error trying to force a throw to first on John Berti’s third infield single of the game. The error brought in Miami’s 5th run and 4-for4 and 3-RBI Jorge Soler to the plate as the tying run. He missed the pitch that really mattered: a 3-0 mainstreet sinker that Soler flew to Mike Yastrzemski for the final out of the game.

No harm, no foul—may your career be long and prosperous, Mr. Bailey.

Ryan Walker, a right-handed reliever called up with Patrick Bailey earlier this week, took a Major League mound for the first time in the 6th.

Peeking over his left shoulder when set and an odd, indirect-step delivery, the 27-year old boasts a frisbee slider-sinker repertoire. He gave up two infield singles (a theme on the day) but got the best contact hitter in baseball, Luis Arraez, to line out softly to short for the final out of the inning, preserving San Francisco’s 2-run lead and putting himself in line for his first career win.

J.D. Davis launched his first home run against a left-handed pitcher on the season. It was his 8th, but first since May 5th, a run of nearly 60 plate appearances betwixt. Too long!

Historically sporting slightly reverse splits, the scales have come unchained for Davis in 2023. In more than half as many appearances against lefties, his OPS is more than half of what it is against righties. Was that confusing? Probably—but that sentence is too balanced to be deleted. Cold hard numbers then. OPS vs. LHP in 2023: .464. OPS vs. RHP: .965.

The blast broke a 2 -2 tie in the 3rd against Miami starter Jesús Luzardo.

San Francisco’s struggles against lefties are well-documented and Luzardo, having dealt quality starts in his last 2 outings, looked like a less-than-ideal match-up. Painting the zone with a limited palette of 96 MPH four-seamer and a swing-and-miss slider, Luzardo would bag 8 strikeouts over 5 innings, but similarly to Wood, got burned by the long ball.

All 8 of Luzardo’s strikeouts came on the slider—6 of them swinging. The Giants swung at the pitch 20 times, whiffed 50% of the time and put the ball in play only 6 times against it. As tough as that pitch was early, the Giants adjusted to it, and right-handed batters knocked three key hits against the pitch.

After it K’ed Estrada in the 1st, his next time up, the infielder pulled the slider down the 3rd base line for an RBI double, tying the game up at 2 runs a piece.

In the 6th, the game tied again, Davis sparked the decisive rally by yanking Luzardo’s slider into the left field corner for a lead-off double. Mitch Haniger then dumped a knee-high one into right to bring Davis home to break the tie and knock Luzardo from the game.

Casey Schmitt added some more insurance in the 8th. He’s had a hit in 10 of his first 12 games.

Other firsts: both Haniger and Schmitt bagged their first stolen bases—the former as a Giant and in 2023, the latter as a Giant and in his career.

And Yaz laid out for a breath-taker—his first since straining his hamstring on a similar play in Mexico City.

Alex Wood got called for his first balk as a Giant, and his first since 2018.

A balk call is usually maddening enough, but the kick in the ribs came after a 2-out infield single in the 3rd from (who else?) John Berti that glanced off Wood’s glove, ricocheting away from Thairo Estrada at second.

The lucky knock continued the inning for the Marlins, and the balk turned it into a success, letting Berti advance to second and scoring on Soler’s single to right.

Don’t pull your hair out looking for the infraction, and don’t pull your hair out trying to find the clip of the balk just so you can pull your hair out again like I did. It’s like the Zapruder film—poring over it will only lead to more questions. Generally confusing, often bogus, and usually nit-picky on the atomic level—a balk is in the eye of the beholder. Best to let these things go…

I understand that the balk rule prevents certain advantages a pitcher could abuse against a batter or base runner(s). I am not a legal expert, at least in the made-up rules of sports, there should be some discernment between the letter of the law and the spirit of it. In soccer, the use of VAR and replays on offside challenges have become ridiculously strict, technology allowing refs to fault players for half a leg or shoulder ahead of the last defender. The spirit, or point of the offsides rule is to ban cherry-picking, not to punish players for an overeager shoelace.

To me, the balk rule is similar. It needs to be blatant. It needs to be obvious. It needs to look something like this.

What Alex Wood supposedly did (not come to a full set?) is a cleat offsides. What advantage does Wood gain from that infraction? Conversely, look at what the Marlins gained because of it.

Moving on: a pickle! A proper one at that, and the first one of the season (I think—*grimacing face emoji*)

Officially a 2-4-2-5-1-6-5-2 caught-stealing after Soler broke for second with Berti trying to advance home on the throw in a 4 - 4 tie in the 6th.

Wood’s start ended an at-bat earlier after Berti’s second infield single put 2-runners on with one out and Soler coming to the plate. Kapler swapped Wood for Brebbia because he was at 74 pitches and was on a short leash after his injury, and a blind person could see that Soler was locked in against Wood.

Wood-Brebbia—didn’t matter to Soler. He knocked an RBI single to tie the game.

In his second start back from IL, Wood pitched…fine. He struck out 5 in 4.1 innings, dealing some solid swing-and-miss stuff with his sinker, but some infield singles, a balk, 2 loud and long solo home runs and a guy named Jorge Soler meant Wood spent most of the Sunday afternoon shaking his head, glaring at some nondescript spot in the left field bleacher, swearing under his breath, or over it.

Is a run-down different from a pickle? Is one just the colloquial term for the other? Does it have to do with how many throws are involved before the out is recorded? Or maybe the number of players involved? Does someone need to shout “pickle!” to make it officially so? Let us scribe our definition: a run-down becomes a pickle when A) four (4) back-and-forth throws between fielders are completed before the out, and more than four (4) fielders are involved; and B) a run-down can not be a pickle until it is verbally communicated as such.

Works for me. Clearer than the balk rule.

Giants onto Correa Country.