Giants 2019: This Week In Giants 4/14
He's a Pillar of strength in the Giants lineup!
Last week, I expressed skepticism over acquiring Kevin Pillar when they'd already let go of a guy with Pillar's skillset, Gorkys Hernandez, in the off-season—a cheaper one, no less. (Granted, Pillar's got the track record, but ask Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel how valuable track records seem to be lately.)
All Pillar has done in his first week-plus as a Giant: drive in nine runs over a three-game Padres series—including a grand slam on 4/8 that proved cosmetic rather than decisive, unfortunately—win the 4/11 game with a 7th-inning solo blast off Colorado's Jon Gray, then drive home two important runs on 4/13 vs. Colorado (homering yet again).
Is Pillar going to continue going yard every third day and averaging an RBI per game? Unless they go to four-man lineups, no. But remember: SF opened the year with Michael Reed and Connor Joe in the outfield, meaning all Pillar must do to be an upgrade is bat .068 and not crap himself chasing a fly ball.
If Friday's "doubleheader" with Colorado had to happen, at least the Giants 'pen was ready—Derek Holland, Dereck Rodriguez and Jeff Samardzija threw successive seven-inning starts during the week, after Madison Bumgarner opened said week with six-plus. Tony Watson got the toughest outs of the 18-inning clash, escaping a bases-loaded, one out jam in the 8th with a pretty changeup strikeout of Colorado 1B Josh Fuentes.
As a team, the Giants sport a 2.75 ERA this season (remember: Cody Bellinger's slam last week produced unearned runs). 10 major league teams are well over 5.00, so strong pitching isn't exactly a league-wide trend early in 2019.
As for German Marquez's near no-hitter Sunday, even if Evan Longoria hadn't singled to left in the 8th inning to halt history, such a loss wouldn't have impacted me all that much. This writer watched the Giants put up one hit from innings 7-17 of the 18-inning marathon Friday night, so I was essentially desensitized.
Kevin Pillar's home run career high is 16 (2017).
Opening the week on Monday, the Giants staked Bumgarner to a 5-0 lead vs. San Diego (which he and Reyes Moronta couldn't hold), then dropped six in the 2nd inning 24 hours later in support of Derek Holland. San Francisco's offense is a lot like that one girlfriend we've all had: five or six days out of the week, she comes home and it's sweatpants, flip-flops and lifeless ponytail. But on that seventh day...DAYUM!
You aren't sure what inspired it, what was different on Day Seven, but boy, do you savor DAYUM while you can. "The Giants lead 6-0. The Giants lead 6-0. DAYUM!" Yes, it was so mind-blowing it left this writer rocking and mumbling to himself.
Capping that rally: a single by the newest Giant, Mr. Tyler Austin, late of the Yankees and Twins. (You may remember his papa speaking out against the Yankees for keeping oft-injured Greg Bird to play 1B while trading Austin to Minnesota for Lance Lynn last year. Or you may not.)
Granted, Tyler Austin could gag himself and puke up more baseball talent than you or I could even imagine having. Still, the way SF area media reported his acquisition, one would believe the Giants just bamboozled Minnesota out of a 3x-All-Star. Anything to inspire a snippet of hope for the Giants' tepid offense.
All I'm saying: Austin might turn out to be a nice surprise a la Andres Torres—the kid did smack 17 home runs last season—but don't expect anything. He was available for a reason, people.
MLB PITCH (Predictions, Info, Transactions, Commentary, Highlights)
Reported on the major outlets: the 505-foot homer hit by Toronto's Rowdy Tellez at Boston's Fenway Park on 4/11...until word spread that Ted Williams' 502-footer in has long stood as the Fenway record. Then, suddenly, Statcast's original estimate wasn't reliable...
Fellow Blue Jay Lourdes Gurriel has found himself banished to AAA, but Vlad Guerrero Jr. was not called up in his stead; that honor went to Eric Sogard, aka "Nerd Power"...CC Sabathia returned from the DL with five scoreless innings for the Yankees on 4/13; he did not factor in the decision, but New York rallied to win late...Jose Altuve of Houston went yard in five straight games to close the week...
The Mikes Clevinger and Trout each dealt with injuries; Clevinger will miss up to two months with an upper back strain, while Trout nursed a strained groin that sidelined him for the final five games of the week...Nats RP Trevor Rosenthal saw the first 10 hitters he faced in 2019 reach base before finally retiring Philadelphia's Andrew Knapp via K...Marcell Ozuna's unnecessarily-climb-the-wall blooper from 2018 ranks as one of my all-time faves. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT HAPPENED AGAIN?...KC's Whit Merrifield's two-season hitting streak ended at 31 games 4/11...
CC Sabathia has begun his 19th and final MLB season.
The Reds, shut out three consecutive times 4/3-5, rebounded with a 14-0 win vs. Miami to kick off a four-game win streak...the Cubs set a record by scoring in double digits five of their first 10 contests. Too bad the pitching didn't measure up; Chicago ended the week 5-9 with a 5.43 ERA, and Jon Lester on the IL (hamstring)...Oakland's Khris Davis put up consecutive multi-HR games vs. Baltimore, then went deep again at Texas the next night; he leads MLB with 10 four-baggers...Davis' 2018 teammate Edwin Jackson may be a 2019 teammate as well; Oakland re-signed him to a minors deal...longtime Rockie Carlos Gonzalez made his Indians debut after six games with AAA Columbus; he went 1-for-5 on 4/14...
After raising his oh-fer streak to 54 at-bats, Baltimore's Chris Davis—shouldn't HIS name start with the K?—broke out with three hits, two doubles and four RBI at Boston 4/13...the Mariners extended their record season-opening home run streak to 18 games; despite closing the week with three losses, they're still 13-5...Jacob deGrom's record-tying 26-game quality start streak was snapped by the Twins 4/9; he allowed six ER in four innings, then was beaten again by Atlanta 4/14 while lasting just five innings...speaking of struggling aces, Boston's Chris Sale had his second rough start out of three on 4/9; he's now 0-3, 9.00 and his velo is down...
On the rookie watch, the White Sox' Eloy Jimenez went 8-for-21 with a two-homer game 4/12, while Mets 1B Pete Alonso went 6-for-21 during the week while homering thrice (two of them on 4/9).
Sources: MLB Network, ESPN, NBC Sports, MLB.com, several television/radio broadcasts and my own personal research