The Giants are playing sixteen games in sixteen days. Tonight was game two of three against the Mets in Queens. Game 2/16 of the Gauntlet. I am writing these during the games and posting immediately after, so it’s fresh.
Johnny Cueto returned to his spot in the rotation in New York tonight, facing Taijuan Walker for the Mets. Cueto looked good in the first, loose. He gave up a single to Pete Alonso which amounted to nothing and he had a strikeout. But then he gave up back-to-back singles to Javy Baez and Dominic Smith with nobody out to start the second.
Cueto was ahead in the count to Jonathon Villar, but looked out of it on balls that were well out of the zone, filling it up. Then he got Villar to hit a line drive to right that Mike Yasztremski ran up on, caught and fired to second where they doubled up Baez, who had erroneously taken off for third at the crack of the bat. Cueto struck out Mazeika to end the inning.
The Giants meanwhile, fell quietly to Walker the first time through the rotation, nine up, nine down. Walker was efficient, finishing three innings on just 28 pitches, barely more than nine pitches an inning. He was cruising and the Giants bats had nothing on him.
Cueto started the third giving up yet another single, this time to the Mets pitcher, Walker, who drilled a line drive hard, right back at Cueto and past him into center field. Walker is a right-handed pitcher who bats left-handed and he looked like a hitter. Cueto got Nimmo to pop up. Then he induced a grounder from Alonso on the next pitch, that doubled up Walker. Cueto had a six-pitch third. This game moved fast.
Wade popped up to start the Giants fourth. Then Javy Baez made a great, running, sliding catch of a would-be bloop single by Belt. Defense was going the Mets’ way. Walker was just mowing down Giants, eleven hitless, until … on an 0-2 count, he left a ball right out over the middle of the plate and Kris Bryant boomed a massive home run off the fascia of the second deck! Giants 1-0. Walker struck out Crawford to end the inning (remember that, it’ll be important later).
In the fourth, Cueto got Jeff McNeil to fly out, but then walked Michael Conforto. Baez smashed a ball up the third base line, straight to Bryant, one former Cub to the other. Bryant caught the rocket back-handed, zipped it over to first, and doubled off Conforto, who was off the bag. For the third inning in a row, the Giants turned a double play. They would end with five double-plays in this one.
This was a pitching duel with good defense for five innings. Walker was three-up, three-down, with a K again in the fifth – angry about his one mistake that was now the difference in the game, he tightened down the screws. The Kahuna pointed out the Giants had a lot of lefties in the lineup tonight, though Walker’s splits are good against lefties. (remember that, it’ll be important later)
Cueto retired Smith, walked Villar, and popped up Mets rookie catcher Patrick Mazeika, bringing up the pitcher, Walker, again. With two-out in the fifth, Walker got on again and moved Villar to scoring position. Before this game, Taijuan Walker was 1 for 39 at the plate and tonight he stepped up and got two hits against Johnny Cueto. smh. Then Cueto, who was ahead in the count 0-2, walked Nimmo and loaded the bases. The Mets had base-runners in every inning against Cueto in this one.
Kapler went out to take the ball from Cueto who had walked two to load em up, but who was also at 64 pitches, a limit that Kap had discussed with Jon before the game. They had a brief intense discussion, but Kap left Cueto in to try to get Pete Alonso and have a possibility at the win.
Citi Field crowd was into it, was a tense moment in this one. Cueto and Alonso fought to a full count – bases loaded, two-out, full count, one run-game, Cueto’s 70th pitch … Alonso fouled it off, Cueto grabbed the rosin bag.
And on Cueto’s 71st pitch, Pete Alonso hit a routine grounder to third for what should have been a routine out to end the inning. But, reminiscent of his first game in a Giants uniform – when he said he was “giddy,” to be a Giant – Kris Bryant airmailed the throw to first! It wasn’t close. Villar scored. Game tied 1-1. Yo, Sparkles, that’s two – tighten it up.
Kapler relieved Cueto and hailed Jose Alvarez to face the lefty McNeil. Alvarez popped him up on one pitch to end the inning. With the bases loaded. It was ice. Jon pointed out that, “Alvarez has been pretty good in situations where there’s a lot of traffic on the bases.” The one run was unearned and charged to Bryant on the error.
Walker sat down Flores, Wade and Belt on ten pitches in the sixth. This kid was dealing. Six innings on 68 pitches and just the one mistake to Bryant. And he got two hits! His hit advanced Nimmo to scoring position, who eventually scored to tie the game on Bryant’s error.
Two mistakes, one by Walker and one by Bryant, were the scores in this 1-1 game through six innings. Good defenses here, Mets and Giants both, until Bryant winged it.
In the top of the seventh, the Mets tagged the veteran Tony Watson, a rare blown “hold,” for the game’s all-time leader in that statistic. Conforto singled and was advanced to scoring position by Baez, who hit a dribbler up the first base line. Belt kept him in front of him but then ran to the bag and Jon noted that Belt, like all of us, had seen Baez’s shenanigans at avoiding tags. Smith doubled to deep left, scoring Conforto. Mets 2, Giants 1.
Villar reached on an infield single to Crawford. But then, the Giants defense did it again. Belt scooped up a Mazeika grounder to first, fired it to Crawford at second, who turned it to Watson, covering first, for the 3-6-1, inning-ending double play.
It was the Mets defense’s turn to crack, and Villar obliged – with an error on a grounder to third he booted to put Bryant on. But that was followed by a bloop pop up by Dickerson that should have been caught and was instead totally misplayed by the infielders and Conforto, who went flying and missed it.
Taijuan Walker had been throwing a gem, six innings, just 74 pitches, and he had the lead, 2-1. The Giants had two-on and nobody out in the eighth but neither were Walker’s fault – both were defensive failures. Insanely, the Mets manager Luis Rojas pulled Walker!
The logic was that he wanted Loup to face the lefty, Brandon Crawford, and maintain the lead. It didn’t matter that he had struck Crawford out once already, had good splits against lefties or that he had been mowing down Giants all day. Rojas took the ball. Walker was livid, storming off the mound and throwing stuff around in the dugout.
What’s the opposite of Moneyball? Is it how we all used to do things? Cause it sure looks dumb now.
Dave kept saying he was stunned by the move. The crowd was in shock, booing. So Aaron Loup came in to face Brandon Crawford … and it totally backfired! B-Craw hit the first double by a lefty against Loup this entire year! on the first pitch! to drive in the go-ahead runs: Giants 3, Mets 2. Hahahahaaaa I was howling! B-Craw is such a pro. What a badass.
(By the way, in the postgame show, Jon pointed out that Crawford has only faced Loup once before, and said, “now his record against Loup is 2 for 2 with two doubles.” Rojas took out Walker to put in a guy who had doubled off Loup in the only other at-bat he’d ever had against him).
“First extra base hit by a lefty against Loup all year … makes the Mets manager look real bad,” said Flem.
ooohhh. That place exploded. Walker, whose brilliant outing was utterly shot, was raging in the dugout. The Mets fans booed Rojas vociferously. Loup then beaned Slater! and now the Giants had two runners on and the lead.
The Giants were looking for more but B-Craw got picked off at second (again!?!) and Casali struck out. Loup got La Stella to pop up to end the inning. But the damage had been done, and a great performance by poor Taijuan Walker was wasted. Mets manager Luis Rojas will be facing a phalanx of angry mics over that one.
Dominic Leone managed Lindor, Nimmo and Alonso in the seventh. But the Giants had another base-running error in the eighth. Ruf doubled and then got caught off the bag on a flared pop-up. Javy Baez made the over-the-shoulder catch and spun around and fired the ball over to second. Good play, but why was Ruf off?
Tyler Rogers had two strikeouts to start the bottom of the eighth, then popped up Baez, three-up, three-down. He got Baez to chase, which was cool. The Giants went quietly in the ninth. Jake McGee came in to face Smith, Villar and Mazeika, with a one-run lead on the road.
He struck out Smith. Then the defense fell apart. A rare drop of a catchable ball in foul territory by Belt allowed Villar to stay at the plate and he singled. Then a routine fly to center and Dickerson and Slater ran into each other and missed the catch. Total Keystone Cops, only thing missing was the yakkity sax. The error was Dickerson’s, as Slater was calling him off.
One down and two on in the bottom of the ninth with Lindor at the plate, and McGee popped him up, caught cleanly at last. Lindor got booed. With two out and two on, McGee got two strikes on Nimmo, who then worked a full count. McGee walked him to load the bases to have to face Pete Alonso, the best home run hitter for the Mets.
Bases loaded. Two outs. Bottom ninth, Giants 3, Mets 2 – Jake McGee vs. Pete Alonso.
First pitch is a cross-up! Ball one. Casali and McGee reset. Second pitch, a fastball, hit foul. It’s one and one. Third pitch is a high fastball swung on and missed! Mets down to their final strike again. Fourth pitch popped up foul. Fifth pitch fastball up popped up foul and out of play. And the next pitch was flied out to shallow center and caught by Tommy La Stella!
Woooohoooooo! What a finish by Jake McGee! The guys were like, “he got five outs!”
Tony Watson gets the win, Taijuan Walker the loss, and Jake McGee his 29th Save!
Giants 3, Mets 2
Way to go Giants!
Two down fourteen to go!
Let’s Gooooooo Giants!