The Giants swept the Nationals in commanding fashion, blowing up innings with crooked numbers, using 13 pitchers and achieving a 67% strike rate as a staff. They were 15/30 with RISP for the series and Joc Pederson showed power and contact. It was a series that started with Gabe Kapler using a ‘bullpen game,’ and middled and ended with Giants aggressively trying to tack on runs with a lead.
Giants 5, Nationals 2
Alex Wood was good. Effective for five innings, he struck out five, gave up four hits, two walks and two earned runs. The ‘pen picked it up from there and very encouragingly Dominic Leone had a solid outing to hold the sixth and Jon Brebbia did the same to hold the seventh. Tyler Rogers took the eighth and Camilo Doval closed it out for his third save of the young season. The offense came from Joc Pederson, Wilmer Flores, Darin Ruf and Brandon Crawford.
Giants 12, Nationals 3
This was a solid, complete-team performance behind the ace, Logan Webb, on a day when the guys lost Mike Yastrzemski to a positive Covid-19 test. Darin Ruf played left and young Luis Gonzalez took center. Kap moved Joc to right and put him in Yaz’s lead off spot and it paid off.
Joc Pederson hit two big-flies! Love that his bat is heating up – he’s our Kris Bryant replacement and so far, so good. Today Joc was three-for-four: Homer, Sac fly, Double and Homer, for three RBIs. He’s had four homers on this road trip, filling the void of Brandon Belt’s short slump.
Webb went six and two-thirds, giving up three runs on seven hits with six Ks and a walk. Tyler Rogers took the eighth for his sixth hold.
The Giants offense exploded again, this time in their last inning, carving out six insurance runs off the Nats Steve Cishek in the ninth. Jake McGee and Zack Littell were both available for the bottom of the final frame despite all the arms Kapler used this past week. Kap’s decision to call for a “bullpen game” in game one, relying on Webb to go long, was tested, but it was sound. In a non-save situation, Zach Littell closed out the Nats in order. Boom.
The G-men batted fully around in the ninth, including the pinch runner. Cishek hit two batters. It was vicious … which leads us to discuss our new philosophy under Gabe Kapler:
Standard Operating Aggressiveness
For the second time this season, Gabe Kapler and the staff offended an opponent by being aggressive on the basepaths in a game, treading upon the unwritten rule that you shouldn’t pile runs on a team when you have a big lead. Here’s how AP reported it:
“With two outs in the top of the ninth on Friday night and San Francisco ahead 7-1, the Giants’ Thairo Estrada took off on an 0-1 pitch and Brandon Crawford blooped a single over Washington shortstop Alcides Escobar, who grabbed the ball and threw out Estrada at the plate.
“Heading off the field, Escobar walked over to the third-base line and began yelling into the Giants’ dugout. He was soon joined by Victor Robles. Manager Dave Martinez and a group of Nationals came onto the field and Martinez guided Escobar off. The Giants remained in their dugout, and the incident didn’t escalate further as San Francisco beat Washington 7-1. “They did some things that we felt like (were) uncalled for,” Martinez said. “But you guys can ask Gabe Kapler about that.”
They did. And Kapler replied:
“We scored seven runs in an inning tonight. With Josh Bell and Juan Soto and Nelson Cruz in the middle of their lineup, we know they’re capable of scoring seven runs in an inning as well,” Kapler said. “It’s definitely not about running up the score. We felt like we’re respecting our opponents and we’re gonna respect our opponents at every turn. This is about using every tool at our disposal to compete.”
Here at GBC we 100% support Gabe Kapler’s reasoning on this. It is a sane, sensible philosophy that seeks to establish a standard operating procedure – independent of the score – of aggressiveness in the minds of the players.
I call it Standard Operating Aggressiveness.
Back on April 12th, in a game against the Padres at home, Kapler had Steven Duggar try to steal second base in the second inning with a nine run lead and then, with the score 10 -1 in the sixth, Kap greenlit Mauricio Dubon to bunt for a base hit. The Padres were enraged.
Asked about it, Kapler replied: “Our goal is not exclusively to win one game in a series. It’s to try to win the entire series. Sometimes, that means trying to get a little deeper into the opposition’s ‘pen. I understand that many teams don’t love that strategy. And I get why.
“It’s something that we talked about as a club before the season … We were comfortable going forward with that strategy. It’s not to be disrespectful in any way. It’s because we feel very cool and strategic. It’s the best way to win a series. When I say cool, I mean calm. We’re not emotional about it. We’re not trying to hurt anybody.“
Kapler met with reporters the next day to elaborate:
“Everybody is competing on a Major League Baseball field. It doesn’t make any sense how one part of the field stops competing and the other part of the field keeps competing. I can’t think of a reason why that makes sense.
“The pitcher on the mound is trying to get you out, the batter at the plate stops competing with all the tools at his disposal? I’ve never quite understood it, I don’t understand it now and I don’t think that the best way to play this game is to take away any of your tools to be successful on a Major League Baseball field.
“What’s the threshold? One team thinks it’s eight runs in the sixth inning. Another team thinks just keep going after it as long as you’re early in the game. But there’s no real cut off point.
“What we’ve always said as a club, and what we’ll maintain is if we don’t want a team to bunt, we will defend the bunt. If we don’t want a team to steal, we will defend the steal. If we don’t want a team to swing 3-0 late in the game, we’ll throw a ball. We have so much control on our side, we don’t have to worry about what other teams decide to do or decide not to do.”
Way to go, Kap. Giants Baseball Corner approves a Standard Operating Aggressiveness.
The Giants have gone seven of ten and won three of four series on the road with two sweeps. The guys travel to Milwaukee for a one gamer against the Brewers tomorrow to round out the road trip. By a spin of the rotation wheel, they find themselves landed on facing the NL Cy Young Award winner from last year, Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Corbin Burnes, who won the 2021 award in a highly contested vote.
Way to go Giants! Wrap it up in Milwaukee with a win and we’ll see you back home soon.