I always say Win/Loss doesn’t mean much until mid-June, but when it’s against the Nemesis every game counts. That’s how we took the division from them last year: Gabe Kapler and the staff managed to consistently take series wins, from out of the gate down to the wire.
The Giants went down to L.A. for a brace to start the season series and in game one, despite being ravaged by injuries and Covid-protocol absences, they were in it. The winning run was at the plate in the top of the ninth. Newest Dodger reliever Craig Kimbrel shut down the threat. The Dodgers got Kimbrel from the White Sox in a trade for A.J. Pollock. He now has five saves.
The Giants found nothing against starter Julio Urias, who gave up four hits and held them scoreless for six innings. Urias was his usual, Giants-hating, mound-stalking dominator self. I love our battles with him. Carlos Rodón was good in his first Giants outing against Urias. He gave up just three hits, for two earned runs.
Rodón walked two and struck out three in 95 pitches over six innings – quality start. But he had Kevin Padlo, Luke Williams, rookie Luis Gonzalez and Jason Vosler in the starting lineup, not Brandon Belt or Mike Yastrzemski or Joc Pederson. Rodón got Cained in his fourth start and took his first loss of the season.
John Brebbia entered in relief and gave up a hit, but Kap was quick to replace him, then Jose Alvarez threw a rare wild pitch that allowed the earned run for Brebbia to score before getting out of the inning. The Giants only used two relievers in this one. This was a regular start for a regular starting pitcher.
We have so many “bullpen games,” I fear we forget what this is supposed to look like: starting pitcher goes at least five, hopefully six or seven, if the guys can’t get him the lead, he is to keep the score low and within reach, to allow a bullpen battle. That’s a Logan Webb start, a Carlos Rodón start. Last year that was a Kevin Gausman start.
In Alex Wood’s case, we hope for five solid innings, but it’s basically a regular start. Alex Cobb gave us one and looked good doing it, but then pulled up hurt in his second regular start and fully imploded in his third.
Since DeSclafani hasn’t been effective against the Nemesis or Mets and shows decline, we don’t have a third starting pitcher who can reliably give us a quality start. The Alexes, Wood and Cobb, are not consistently sufficient.
This is what brings us to long middle relief and “bullpen games” every fourth or fifth start. To their credit, Sam Long has been good at opening, Jakob Junis good at eating up innings, and the ‘pen has had some solid performers take innings in middle relief: Jose Alvarez, Zach Littell, Jarlin Garcia, Tyler Rogers, Camilo Doval and the new guy Mauricio Lloveras.
I appreciate that the Giants are successful with relievers, but I really wish we had another very good starter. The Dodgers have Urias, Walker Beuhler and Clayton Kershaw. They would have Trevor Bauer, too, if he wasn’t a sexually abusive jerk. Who is Farhan Zaidi looking for? How much is he willing to spend? We have the money … nothing says we have to wait until the trade deadline.
The Dodgers used four relievers because the Giants were finally able to touch 23-year-old Brusdar Graterol, the hard-throwing righty pitching in the high 90’s to low 100 mph range. Hot-hitting Wilmer Flores got to first on an infield single off Graterol, who then walked Brandon Crawford.
Kap and co, pulled Kevin Padlo for the rook, and the Giants avoided the shutout on a Luis Gonzalez sac fly in the seventh that brought home Flores. It genuinely felt like we were in this to the end. If we had some of our regular guys this one could have been ours. Alex Vesia got the Bums out of the jam. Daniel Hudson threw a scoreless eighth with two K’s and Kimbrel closed it.
Los Angeles 3, Giants 1
Not much to say, we are a depleted side, but still managed to stay in the game til the end. That’s how I look at it. Let’s take game two and split the series tomorrow.