New uniform, new league, new position—Justin Turner is still finding ways to haunt the San Francisco Giants on the field, making us fans froth at the mouth in frustration and jealousy.
Down 2-1 in the 7th, the Giants bats had the beginnings of their first viable rally of the night with runners at first and second and no outs after consecutive singles from J.D. Davis and Patrick Bailey.
Facing right-handed reliever Josh Winckowski, Gabe Kapler swapped Luis Matos for Blake Sabol. On the 6th pitch of the bat, Sabol got a hittable sinker, drove it hard into the ground in front of home plate and the ball bounded over the mound towards the middle. It seemed like it had eyes, destined to wiggle through a hole and find the outfield grass, tying the game for the Giants, but Turner—ex-Dodger, ex-thorn-in-side for so many years—rushed to his right and snared it with a high backhand. The catch saved a run, then he had the audacity to derail the rally by somehow, while tumbling towards the ground with his momentum carrying him past second, flip the ball from his glove and secure the out at second.
RBI single relegated to fielder’s choice. Rising balloon meet thorn.
Effectively deflated, Brett Wisely put together a master class in non-committal hitting, offering and not-offering to bunt at two pitches before swinging through a shoe-lace cutter, and Marco Luciano took two pitches seemingly off the plate, but they were close enough for Quinn Wolcott: booking the rookie for strikes 1 and 3 to end the inning.
In the top of the 8th, the Boston Red Sox kindly illustrated how scoring actually works for the apparently confused and/or incompetent San Francisco offense.
Number 8 hitter Connor Wong singled off Logan Webb and advanced to second on a sac bunt from Yu Chang. Facing the top of the order, Kapler went to Taylor Rogers and Alex Cora pulled Jarren Duran for the Sox’s own Austin Slater, Rob Refsnyder, who singled home the insurance run on the first pitch of the at-bat.
The last two innings were an extended denouement to a tired plot. Quality, but not lights out pitching when needed, with little-to-zilch support from the offense.
Webb pitched through the 8th, allowing 6 hits on 3 runs while only striking out 4. Another quality start (his 16th) and a return to normal after his previous start against the Nationals, but he allowed his 17th home run of the year—a solo shot in the 5th to the red-hot Triston Casas—with some fiery contact up and down the order, and eventually got burned by the bottom of the lineup in the 8th. The loss was his 9th of the season and his ERA now a tick higher than it was after leaving Washington.
The Red Sox:— J.P. Long (@SoxNotes) July 29, 2023
- Are a season-high 9 games over .500
- Own the AL’s longest active win streak (5 games)
- Have MLB’s best record since June 30 (16-5, .762)
- Are tied with PHI for MLB’s 9th best record overall (56-47, .544)
- Have allowed only 7 runs in their last 4 games
The Red Sox might be a little overlooked being in the same division as the Orioles, Rays and Yankees but they are a hot hand right now with an offense on an opposite trajectory than the Giants. Their run-differential is 4th in the American League and have won four straight. Webb kept Yoshida, Turner, and Devers hitless in 12 total at-bats but the first 6 players in Boston’s batting order in Friday’s game have an OPS solidly above the .800 mark. Casas went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs and forever Giant Adam Duvall bagged two doubles.
Webb wasn’t dominant, but he handled himself well. Patrick Bailey added another trophy to the mantel in the 3rd, slapping the speedy Jarren Duran (96 percentile in sprint speed, successful in 21 of 22 attempts coming into the game) directly in the face.
The current monster the Giants have to overcome is the bats.
Surprisingly, an 8-run outburst against the A’s on Wednesday did not initiate a great turnaround or herald a renaissance for the Giants lineup. San Francisco’s offense struggled to get their footing against Boston’s starter Kutter Crawford, who threw 5.2 innings allowing 3 hits and 1 run with 1 walk and 7 strikeouts.
Kutter throws a cutter about 30% of the time, but his parents should’ve named him Four-Seamer because that’s his pitch. With a delivery that pulls the ball back like the string of a bow, Four-Seamer’s four seamer is in the 90th percentile of spin rate. Opponents whiff nearly 28% of time when hacking at the pitch while their expected-slugging against the pitch is below Luis Arraez’s batting average.
With that in the back of their mind, Crawford actually bumped up his cutter usage a bit to create an effective mix. The first time through the lineup, the Giants struck out 5 times.
First MLB hit for Marco Luciano pic.twitter.com/gQAosG9A8y— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) July 29, 2023
Their second hit (and third base runner) didn’t come until Marco Luciano’s 1st career hit—a lead-off single in the 6th. Luciano would take second on a wild pitch and score on an RBI single by Michael Conforto.
Wilmer Flores’ 348 foot fly out was a clear enough sign to Cora that San Francisco was finally comfortable and went to the bullpen.
Justin Turner pulled the rug out from a burgeoning game-tying rally in the 7th, Joc Pederson launched a solo home run in the 8th a half-inning too late, and new uniform, new league but still Kenley Jansen retired San Francisco in order in the 9th to preserve the 3-2 win for Boston.