Giants Squander Leads in Pittsburgh, Split Series 2-2 as ‘Pen Loses Winnable Games; Kapler Shows Flexibility

It’s clear I’m going to need to develop a better way – meditation, yoga, breathing exercises – to deal with the fact we’re going to lose a lot of games this year despite leading for seven, eight and even nine innings on the road.

Our ‘pen has good games, especially at home, and show capability. But on the road, when the last three outs belong to the opposition, there is little confidence we can close ’em out in nine. I have almost no belief we can win extras on the road.

The Giants went into Pittsburgh with DeSclafani, Gausman, Cueto and Wood lined up and ready to go. And they were. The Giants won the first and the bullpen held well in a game that was interesting because Kapler pulled DeSclafani after the fifth, despite that he was dealing. (I was watching the Bucs broadcast and their old-school announcers were going crazy over that decision!)

DeSclafani only allowed one hit over five. He had five K’s and just one walk in 76 pitches, but Kapler chose to let him decide if he wanted to come out with a 3-0 lead. This was fascinating because it was what we often asked Boch, the player’s manager, to do in April and May games, to no avail. (insert inert Bochy noises here). AlPav discussed the matter with Kap.

To their credit, Baragar, Littell, Doval and Rogers each dealt an inning and, though the rookie gave up a solo shot, they held. Giants 3, Pirates 1.

As great and fresh as game one was, with the new manager’s short leash and trust in the ‘pen flowering, game two was equally miserable and memorable of a recent terrible past: Gausman got Cained! Our ace scattered five hits over eight innings, giving up just one run. Tyler Rogers and Jake McGee were then unable to keep the Giants ahead in nine or ten innings (we even held a lead in extras 2-1). Baragar gave up the winning run and took the loss. Giants 2, Pirates 3 in 11 innings.

Game three was arguably worse. Johnny Cueto’s second start back from rehab was considerably more stable than the ugly first start loss to the Pads last Sunday. He threw four innings well, but after giving up two in the fifth, Kapler, showing great flexibility again, tried to mitigate his rust by going to the ‘pen with a 4-0 lead.

Unlike the previous game, the guys didn’t let Cueto get Cained – they scored two more runs and we led 6-2 after the sixth. Then came the bullpen implosion, complete collapse. Selman, Doval and McGee gave up two runs each, including the walkoff homer to Stallings in the ninth. Giants 6, Pirates 8.

Hoping to escape Pittsburgh with a split, the Giants played a great game behind Alex Wood to get him to 5-0 for the year. Wood spread eight hits across six innings, allowing just one run off a solo shot in the first. He gave up one walk while striking out six. Baragar, Wisler and Rogers managed to close it out uneventfully. Giants 4, Pirates 1.

Some Bright Spots

The Giants bats have been awake and despite the absence of numerous players over the first few weeks, we show an ability to score when needed. Following Yasztremski’s return, Dickerson is back. Steven Duggar hit a game-winning home run, his first in two years! Ruf ripped one, too, and he, too, has been good on defense. As has Longo, who has mitigated his struggles at the plate with briliant play in the hot corner. The Giants defense is a bright spot.

Tauchman remains solid and flexible in the outfield. Slater has shown some pop and Mauricio Dubon seems to have broken out of his early season funk – his approach at the plate is much more alert.

Belt and Posey are getting regular breaks, which has been mathematically proven to add up to more success at the plate for the veterans. Brandon Crawford has yet to make an error. He and Newman of Pittsburgh are the only two second basemen in all of baseball for whom this is true. Add to that his presence at the plate which has been clutch, and it is easy to see why blog-follower Marc recently concluded, “Brandon Crawford is such a pro.”

Donovan Solano is ripping it up in rehab starts with the Rivercats and will be joining the team soon. Tyler Beede, who struggled so mightily last year, is also having great success in Sacramento rehab starts after Tommy John surgery. Both of these are covered by Delucchi in the prospect report at Round the Foghorn.

A Team is Forming

I can see a lineup when I squint:

Tauchman, LaStella, Yaz, Solano, Belt, Posey, Longo, Crawford, Dickerson, Flores, Slater, Ruf, Duggar, Casali, Dubon

LaMonte Wade is not being given a fair shake, just as a part of what we are now, but hey, it was WAY worse last year.

I’d like to see Chadwick Tromp get a call-up to catch Cueto. In the Irregular Season he “called a shimmy,” as a result of their unique communication, which was pretty great, and as we learned painfully, it’s important we carry three catchers as soon as possible, especially with Posey’s bat being so efficient at his current workload.

starting pitching looks good:

Gausman, DeSclafani, Cueto, Wood, Webb/Sanchez/Beede

and relievers?

McGee, Rogers, Moronta, Baragar, Doval, Beede, Sanchez … uh …

Yeah, it’s time for Farhan Zaidi to cast his penetrating gaze around the world of baseball to get us some crazy, unknown reliever with ice in his veins.

The Giants are (24-16) with one of the best records in all of baseball. But the Padres are starting to put together wins against good teams and are now just a half game back of first in the National League West. The Bums are two back and will come to Oracle Park for a three game set this coming weekend.

The boys wake up in Cincinatti (19-19) and Logan Webb will get the start today against former Bay Area star Sonny Gray. That means DeSclafani tomorrow followed by Gausman and Cueto, unless Kapler shuffles the lineup because he wants something against the boys in blue. I am learning to like not-knowing. It may be a big part of sabremetrics-driven Moneyball.

Going .500 on the rest of this road trip probably means we lose first place in the division.

So Let’s Go Giants!

Pound the Reds!

Oh yeah, there are a LOT of former Reds on our staff now: most recently DeSclafani and Casali, but Johnny Cueto and Kevin Gausman also pitched for Cincinatti at some point in their careers. At least two will face the Reds with former-Red Curt Casali behind the plate.

About mtk

I'm the artist and author, MTK
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