San Francisco beat Miami, Giants 3, Marlins 2, Sunday, to win the opening series of the season two games to one. The Giants were transparently following the plan elaborated and executed to success by Kapler and coaching staff last year. This is small ball. Most of our games will be close and decided by a battle of bullpens. We were blessed with homers last year and the solo shots reappeared as if to confirm they weren’t a fluke.
The current Giants staff philosophy has it that the starter is meant to go at least five, preferrably six innings for a quality start, keeping it scoreless or within reach. The defense behind him will use shifts and read tendencies of batters. The bullpen will be a shifting platoon of arms used on a situational basis.
The offense is to manufacture runs using sabermetric reading of opponents pitchers and defense. Walks, bunts and sacrifices are active elements and aggressiveness on the basepaths is encouraged. Which brings us to our first honorable mention.
Third Base Coach Mark Hallberg was spectacularly good in his first test and perhaps represents the best face of the speed at which the Giants are attempting to operate. Hallberg was perfect at halting and sending this weekend and was instrumental in three scores. He read the field, the arms and the situation with alert, calculated acuity and threw up clear, unambiguous signs. Confidence is high.
In game one, he sent young Joey Bart with firmness on the overthrow that resulted in his first run. In game two, the read and windmill sign to Ruf, in a very tight spot,was confident and consistent throughout and ultimately game-winning. In the bottom of the third in Sunday’s game he read and held Austin Slater at third, which allowed Wilmer Flores to sacrifice Slater home. That was the winning run.
The 3B Coach position from Tim Flannery to Ron Wotus has been instrumental to the success of our small ball offense. Early season kudos from GBC to Mark Hallberg, who is slaying it out of the gate.
Thairo Estrada had an excellent weekend filling in for Tommy La Stella at second base. He turned several defensive gems and seemed made for second in the shift. His one error, the overthrow that allowed Rojas on (which lead to losing the lead) he immediately redeemed, by hitting a home run on the second pitch of the bottom frame of the ninth to send it to extras the Giants won.
Estrada wasn’t great at the plate other than that, but it gives me pause – I want La Stella at the plate and Estrada in the field at 2B. Is there a small ball situation where La Stella plays DH? I like that idea. As it stands, Thairo Estrada has come to play for the second base position.
Marlins Are Good
The Miami Marlins are a good defensive team with excellent starters Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez and a crisp, well-tuned bullpen led by middle-reliever Steven Okert, who has blossomed into a force. Jorge Soler, Garrett Cooper and Miguel Rojas must be thrilled to have Jacob Stallings, a big, commanding catcher behind and at the plate. This is a good team, a great team to face first in terms of tuning up our defense and sharpening our skillset for the Padres tomorrow.
DeSclafani, Leone and the ‘Pen
Anthony DeSclafani was good for three innings and struggled in the fourth, which was exactly his problem last year. We should use the “opener” stratagem for a DeSclafani start as an experiment.
However, today, Gabe Kapler seemed cool and prepared, with a phalanx of relievers targeted to hold the lead. Kap was amazing this weekend in the bullpen battles, but one of the finest moments was giving the ball to Dominic Leone in the top of the ninth to close game three with a one run lead.
Leone had completely imploded in game one on Friday night in the sixth, giving up the homer to Stallings, a double and three walks and ending Webb’s shutout. It was ugly. But just as he did with Camilo Doval yesterday – Kap pushed Leone right back out there to face the pressure immediately.
Leone struck out Jazz Chisholm, Jr. and Jacob Stallings and popped out Jorge Soler to first to end the game and get the save! WOW!
I love this about Kapler’s process. I loved it last year and am glad he hasn’t changed. This is our current mentality. Don’t train your mind to fear the moment – train it to sharpen, go out there and make it happen.
Moneyball Until the Trade Deadline, Then Buy the Mercs to Get the Job Done
Giants looked good in the opening series, everything according to plan as far as I can see. But the question I asked at the end of last season: if moneyball mostly dies in the DS and has never won it all, do we really want to commit? Seems to have a new answer.
The Giants are loaded. We are flush with cash and cap space. We have the 13th highest payroll. The Mets and Phillies charged their way to the top five. Teams that committed 100m+ to one player and tried to outspend the Bums, the new Sith Lord, can’t do as much at the trade deadline.
So maybe it’s Moneyball til the trade deadline, then buy the mercenaries to get the job done? hmmmm.
Jeff Young over at Around the Foghorn found Carlos Rondon to be electric on debut.
Steven Kennedy at McCovey Chronicles summed up the remarkable debut of Heliot Ramos in an excellent recap of Sunday’s game.
Very good opening series. Giants welcome the division leading Padres tomorrow. Time to show up.
Let’s Go Giants!
Beat the Friars!