In the ninth inning of the last game of a series we had already won, in a collision between two excellent veteran infielders going hard for a ball that was of indefinable responsibility (probably because of all the shifting), we lost Evan Longoria for four to six weeks. Super bummer – he was leading the team in average and playing brilliantly in the field and at the plate lately.
It was scary. But it was also awesome to see Crawford and Longo, like two highly tuned machines, go for that ball to the point of collision … until it wasn’t. Giants lost game four behind Johnny Cueto Cubs 4, Giants 3, but won the series with total command, scoring seven in game one, Cubs 2, Giants 7, eight in the next, Cubs 6, Giants 8, and eking out the win, Cubs, 3, Giants 4, in game three.
Interestingly, both times the Giants lost in the last eight games, the Padres and Bums lost on the same night! The super-secret plan to let them beat each other up while we steal the division is helped along considerably when that happens.
It was a good series for the Giants at home that featured:
- commanding performances by Gausman and DeSclafani
- home runs galore
- a win despite use of an unusual ‘opener’ – the 37-year-old Scott Kazmir
Regards that final point, the Giants, a year ahead of schedule in the win column, are turning into a landing spot for misfit toys and experiments. It is amazing that they’re winning, and the more they do, the better it is for being able to use the lead to find out who works and who doesn’t – a decision that doesn’t have to be final.
The Giants designated Scott Kazmir for assignment and brought young rookie Camilo Doval back up. Doval started the season really well for a rookie but then got rocked in Colorado in a high pressure situation (all puns intended) and confronted by the realities of playing in the bigs. We were able to send him down to shake it off because we tried out a Bay Area former All-Star who wants a chance back at the big leagues.
The motion up and down between Majors and Minors is becoming more fluid. Early last year I said we’d have to get used to the Cactus League mentality lasting deeper into the season because we are amidst a rebuild. Now that’s happening not only because we are rebuilding but because injuries are forcing our hand to be more flexible. Zaidi and Kapler are turning that into opportunities to experiment. I love it.
The Bruce Bochy Era is Over
The experimenting isn’t limited to the up-and-downing to/from the Minors (we need a name for this). It is also apparent in the short leash Kapler is employing. That is a HUGE change from Boch, and for me, it is most welcomed. Kap getting comfortable with making changes, being aware of the three-batter rule, lefty/righty, all the decison-making holistically, is very exciting to watch happen in front of our eyes. He is methodological.
There have been several moves made on pitch count alone or the comfort of the starter to go on – with an eye on endurance for the season. I heard the Pirates announcers go nuts watching Kap take the ball from DeSclafani when he was rolling on the road. I like this.
The idea of a starter or a closer or a middle reliever and how many and which innings they pitch is becoming more fluid, too. Scary, sure, but how else do you learn how to make these calls in an informed way in October if you don’t try em out during the 162? Trusting Kap has been like riding a skateboard, but I am starting to really enjoy it in the early part of the season while we’re winning!
Bunts and Basepaths
The basepaths are another place to see Sabermetrics at work. The Giants are running – like … all the time. Sometimes when they shouldn’t! Alex Dickerson got picked off at first by Contreras when he was the trailing runner! lol. Posey was on second. He got picked taking a lead with Posey on second. facepalm.
Tauchman went on a ridiculous pitch and was caught. Dubon. But there have been a few SBs, with Austin Slater leading the way. More importantly: they are training them to run by giving them hella green lights. It’s pretty hilarious sometimes, but on the whole, it’s great for the evolution of the team.
Aggressiveness on the base paths is leading to more runs and turning our home run parade into multi-run homers, not the solo shots that sometimes curse the Bums and Braves.
The Giants are also walking more and bunting more and more effectively – up and down the lineup, not just pitchers. There is an infectious interest in getting on, taking second and bringing em in. I love it.
Home Run Parade
The San Francisco Giants are crushing the ball, led by Brandon Crawford (12) who, like Posey and Longo, is having a rejuvenated year at the plate. Ron Wotus told Marty Lurie over the weekend that B-Craw had been working on moving his hands up the bat and swing form over the Winter and Spring. Wow, is it paying off! He also leads the team in RBIs (thanks in part to all that aggressive on-base activity) with 37.
As a sidenote: Jon Miller and Dave Flemming have repeatedly made note of Longoria’s bat change, which has the 35-year-old leading the team in average. Mark Sanchez at KNBR reports that after batting with the same length and weight of bat for Longo’s entire career:
“He downsized half an inch and half an ounce, switching to a 33-inch, 31-ounce bat regularly for the first time in his career. He had toyed with it last year but never committed, then watched as his new bat sizzled during spring training.
“Just being able to put good swings on the ball, find the barrel and create some bat speed and not feel like I have to really generate a lot extra with having a lighter, smaller bat,” said Longoria.”
As a team the Giants have hit 85 home runs! Led by the veterans: Posey (10), Longo (9) and Belt (8) while young Slater (7), Ruf, Dickerson and Yaz (6), have all gotten in on the action.
Injuries and Trade Report
Belt, Longo, Yaz, Ruf and Curt Casali are out. LaStella still hasn’t played significant innings. Ugh. Logan Webb is down and Reyes Moronta is still down. It has been rough. But an excellent opportunity for other guys to show their stuff:
LaMonte Wade, Jr. is finally getting playing time – and Sunday he hit his first leadoff homer! Love that guy. Mauricio Dubon has had some incredible games lately. Duggar is still making great contact.
I was glad to see Chadwick Tromp got the call up I asked for the last few weeks. In my opinion, the Aruban Stallion needs reps so we can carry three catchers as soon as possible, but Farhan Zaidi went further and picked up yet another misfit toy in former Bay Area product Bruce Maxwell (c), former Athletic, who has been acquired from the Mets for cash.
The veteran was known for having taken a knee long before it became policy. Bruce Maxwell was the first major leaguer to take a knee during the national anthem. A perfect fit on the Giants, the first team in MLB history with “pride” colors on their uniforms: colors of inclusion.
NL West Standings
The Giants remain in first place in the NL West, now by two games over the Pads, and still, remarkably, have the best record in all of baseball.
We go down to Texas for a two-fer, night game Tuesday, day game Wednesday afternoon. But the day game in Arlington will no longer be hellish, because they have a roof! and Air-conditioning! for the first time at Arlington! Woo Hoo. Let’s get em both.
Let’s Go Giants!
Rough up the Rangers!
Trash the Texans!