The San Francisco Giants defeated the Colorado Rockies once again tonight, 9-1. They scored nine runs two days in a row. They even won two days in a row, which is not always a given with them even when they have a high scoring game. It was all around fun, without the back and forth theatrics of Friday night.
And it was exactly what they needed to do.
In the days leading up to this series, there were dozens of articles from everyone on the beat, discussing exactly what was going wrong with the Giants and what they needed to do in order to turn things around and have a snowball’s chance in Hell at a wild card spot.
The sleeping Giants were taking notes and tonight they methodically checked off the items on that list.
It was mentioned that the Giants hadn’t been stealing bases. And then Thairo Estrada stole second in the fourth inning, his 20th steal for the season.
She's fast enough for you, old man. pic.twitter.com/CN9234Es4f— SFGiants (@SFGiants) September 10, 2023
Defense was a big one that came up a lot. Well, tonight Blake Sabol (entering as a substitution for Joc Pederson late in the game) made one of the better catches and double-play attempts I’ve seen in a while.
"That would've been one of the defensive plays of the year."— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) September 10, 2023
Sabol and the Giants nearly pulled off a CRAZY double play pic.twitter.com/QooS4KyA71
Not only that, though, starting pitcher Logan Webb was pitching for strikeouts and ground balls tonight and the defense had his back. It also helped that he had a little thing that he hasn’t had a lot of experience with lately (another thing mentioned in the post-mortems of the week). Run support. Early and often.
The Giants got things started with a bang in the first inning. Mike Yastrzemski doubled to lead things off and Estrada hit a home run to left field to get the Giants on the board early.
One of the things that hurts the most when a team is struggling the way the Giants have been is when you’ve got a pitcher like Webb going out there every game and giving it his best. Only to get Cain’d. I know it is a tradition, but it’s not a very fun one.
Webb had the kind of strong start the Giants needed him to have, allowing just three hits with a walk and four strikeouts in six innings. And for once, his offense gave him some breathing room.
Mike Yastrzemski was 4-for-5 with two RBI. Thairo Estrada was 1-for-5, with three RBI (he reached on a forceout as well in the Giants’ rally in the fourth). J.D. Davis was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a walk. Luis Matos was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
It was a team effort. And as someone who has written about many, many Saturday losses over the last couple of months where the joke was “it was a herculean team effort to avoid getting shut out” I can definitively say that this was a lot more fun.
It was also fun to see the Giants kind of recharged. Manager Gabe Kapler had been talking earlier this week about how he wanted the players to stay in it. Not act defeated. And you could see that both last night and tonight.
Tonight had some of the same shenanigans as last night, even if it lacked the theatrics of the back and forth.
Sure, they took that early lead on the long ball. But they added on in the beginning of their fourth inning rally with a wild pitch that scored Davis after he doubled to lead off the inning. Then it was singles from Matos and Yastrzemski to score LaMonte Wade, Jr. and Joey Bart.. Knocking Rockies starter Chase Anderson out of the game in the process. Then Estrada hit a force out that scored Matos to give the Giants a 6-0 lead.
And they didn’t let up even then. Which is good. Because we’ve seen leads larger than that slip away.
Quite honestly, what happened in the sixth inning epitomized the mentality I think the entire team has had in this series. Brandon Crawford singled to lead off the inning. Then Yastrzemski doubled to right field, off the bricks at the “Levi’s Landing” sign.
And friends, I kid you not when I say that
Old Ben Kenobi Brandon Crawford scored from first base. I was screaming at my television “Don’t even think about it, Brandon. Your knees are too old for this.” But they waved him home and he scored standing up. There was not even an attempt at a play. Which maybe says more about Yastrzemski’s hit than it does Crawford’s speed, but I’m going to give it to him.
The oddness didn’t end there though. Flores singled pretty much at the pitcher, Victor Vodnik (making his MLB debut) who kind of bobbled it, but made the throw to first, but it pulled the first baseman off the bag and Flores made it in time. Joc Pederson got in on the action after that, singling to score Yastrzemski, and that was all she wrote for Vodnik’s debut. Davis singled in Flores to score the Giants’ third run of the inning and ninth of the night.
As for the Rockies’ lone run, well we’ve kind of already discussed the scenario. Elias Diaz doubled to lead off the seventh inning, and the sac fly that was hit by Elehuris Montero was the same one that was caught by Sabol to start the double-play that could have been, but wasn’t.
Now, some final takeaways. Is this a season-changing, extremely impressive win? No. They were playing the worst team in the National League. They absolutely needed to win these games. They needed to pitch well. They needed the defense to be working. They needed the bats to come alive. They needed to be more aggressive. They basically needed to fix everything that had been going wrong and do so in a hurry.
And they did. So maybe it’s not a groundbreaking victory, but they did the things they needed to do when they absolutely needed to do them the most. And for me, that’s impressive enough.