Giants 2021: Last Week In Giants 5/17

MONDAY 5/10: W 3-1 vs. TEX
 TUESDAY 5/11: W 4-2 vs. TEX

WEDNESDAY 5/12: idle

THURSDAY 5/13: W 3-1 at PIT
FRIDAY 5/14: L 3-2 at PIT
SATURDAY 5/15: L 8-6 at PIT
SUNDAY 5/16: W 4-1 at PIT
SEASON RECORD (thru Sunday): 24-16, 1st NLW, +1.0 over SD
 

I don't know if I've ever seen a diving catch off the first pitch of the game. I don't know if I've ever seen a catcher set up a foot-and-a-half off the plate and still have the pitch go wide. I don't know if I've ever seen a dude make such a nice scoop that his four strikeouts at the plate were essentially ignored.

I do know the Giants ended yet another week in first place, though the Padres gained a half-game on them. 

San Francisco got it done with pitching and defense this week; their offense skidded a bit with 2B Donovan Solano still out and 1B Brandon Belt battling a side injury during the week. The Giants only scored 22 runs in six games—a few of them by way of fielding hiccups by their opponents—but they only allowed 16 runs in those six games. 
Throw out 5/15, and SF boasted a miniscule 1.20 ERA last week!

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How many games open with a first-pitch diving catch?! San Francisco LF Mike Tauchman did the honors vs. Texas 5/11.

I usually want nothing to do with ex-Dodgers. From Todd Benzinger to Orel Hershiser to Steve Finley, I've loudly protested the Giants signing any ex-Dodger—if they'd brought in Yasiel Puig, I honestly couldn't have watched even if he hit 75 home runs. And in most cases, once an ex-Giant voluntarily joins the Dodgers, he's dead to me for the rest of his career (except Sergio Romo because who, besides Frankie Lindor, could ever be mad at Sergio Romo?)

But in the case of SP Alex Wood, I was all for the signing. No, this isn't revisionist history because Wood is pitching so well; I saw all kinds of potential in the 2017 All-Star, who was a dominant 16-3 that year but had since been, in my opinion, mismanaged by the Dodgers and injured with the Reds. Wood looked good in 2020 and as long as Gabe Kapler and Farhan Zaidi stayed out of his way, I believed he could  recapture his winning form.

Well, the dude is 5-0, 1.75 with a 0.94 WHIP. He's averaging six innings per start, fielding his position and even getting his bunts down. Plus, he's a good interview. This is one ex-Dodger who—even if his performance slips a bit—I hope sticks around Oracle Park for awhile. (Just never, ever, EVER attempt to steal third base again, Alex. Just. Don't.)

On Monday 5/10, SF and visiting Texas were locked in a 1-1 tie until Kapler's barrage of 7th-inning pinch-hitters broke the tie—just in time to clinch Wood's 4th win. Tuesday, it was SP Logan Webb's turn to shine; he pitched into the 7th inning and whiffed 10 Rangers. Ex-Giant Charlie Culberson did his old club a solid by committing a TE that allowed the deciding two runs to cross the plate. Belt left this game with a side injury, and was day-to-day the rest of the week.

Following a travel Wednesday, the Giants visited Pittsburgh for the first time since April 19-21, 2019. The Bucs, 15-21 entering Thursday's game, couldn't take advantage of the late scratches of Belt and SS Brandon Crawford (vaccine side effects) and dropped the series opener; Giants OF Steven Duggar homered for the first time in nearly two years and the SF bullpen made sure Kapler's decision to pull SP Anthony DeSclafani for a PH in the 6th didn't blow up in his face.

As for Friday and Saturday? Pain.
Despite getting the Brandons back, the Giants offense could do little against Pittsburgh on Friday, wasting eight shutout innings from SP Kevin Gausman, blowing two leads late and falling to the Bucs on a walk-off sac fly by OF Gregory Polanco in the 11th. Saturday, it was the Charlie Blackmon Game all over again; SF blew a 6-2 lead and ultimately lost on a walk-off HR by Pirates C Jacob Stallings off embattled CL Jake McGee.
But boy, did the defense shine prior to that blast—RF Darin Ruf gunned two runners, including one at the plate, and a beautiful relay from LF Mike Tauchman to SS Crawford to C Curt Casali nailed Adam Frazier at the plate in the 9th. Giants SP Johnny Cueto also made two good plays covering 1B, though he may have jammed his ankle/foot on the second one. Which would explain his sudden collapse in the 5th inning.

That Saturday loss especially hurt because just like the Blackmon Game, it had the early makings of a comfortable Giants win. Ruf, the game's second batter, ripped a 1st-inning solo homer off ex-Giant Tyler Anderson. A few batters later, 1B Wilmer Flores's two-out popup near the mound fell to the grass untouched despite no fewer than four Pirates in its vicinity, and Crawford followed that blunder with a four-bagger to put the Giants up 3-0. But from the 5th inning on, six Giants pitchers allowed eight Pirate runs on 11 Pirate hits...egad.

San Francisco salvaged a series split behind Wood's six masterful innings Sunday. Though Belt's side got him scratched again, C Buster Posey went 3-for-4 with a walk and is now hitting .382 (which would lead the league by a mile if he had 21 more PA).

Duggar and UT Mauricio Dubon continued to flash the leather this month, the latter's effort especially impressive as he's played multiple positions. Dubon—who started 13 of the Giants' first 24 games, ran over coach Ron Wotus, and started just seven of 16 since—also batted 7-for-16 (.438) during the week.

Returning to the roster 5/16 was OF Alex Dickerson, out since 5/5 with a bruised shoulder. He was 1-for-5 with an RBI Sunday. Meanwhile, OF/1B Lamonte Wade, who has struck out in six of 11 AB across his two Giants stints in 2021, returned to AAA Sacramento.

This week, the Orange And Black travel to Cincinnati 5/17-20, then return home for three with the Dodgers 5/21-23. Go, Giants!

MLB PITCH (PREDICTIONS, INFO, TRANSACTIONS, COMMENTARY, HIGHLIGHTS)
 

  • The great Albert Pujols signed a major-league deal with the Dodgers, who continue to be without superstar OF Cody Bellinger and lost SS Corey Seager to a broken hand after being drilled by Miami's Ross Detwiler 5/15.

  • Pujols' former teammate, Mike Trout, fought a rough slump (0-for-18 at one point). Trout's Angels were about to be swept in Boston 5/16 until his bloop single was followed by a homer from the incomparable P/DH Shohei Ohtani with two outs in the T9th.

  • Ohtani, whose 12 HR ties for the MLB lead, also shined on the mound this week, striking out 10 over a season-high seven innings against Houston 5/11.

  • Kansas City, who held the AL's best record not that long ago, saw its losing streak swell to 11 games before beating the White Sox 5/14. About that game...

  • Even I must admit the sound of Royals 3B Hunter Dozier and White Sox 1B Jose Abreu colliding 5/14 was, to be succinct...yucky. Dozier ended up on the IL, but at least Abreu was able to play (and homer) the next day.

  • Seattle rookie Jarred Kelenic, the #6 overall pick in 2018 and a very hyped prospect, debuted last week and even hit his first home run. Get back to me when he's still performing a month from now.

  • Carl Edwards returned to MLB for the first time since 8/5/2020. He coughed up three ER in 0.1 IP and was quickly cut by Atlanta. Edwards signed with Toronto 5/14.

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Milwaukee's Jackie Bradley robbed Atlanta's Ozzie Albies of a 5/15 home run here, and of a base hit the next day.

  • Chicago White Sox phenom Yermin Mercedes continues to lead the league in hitting (.358). He was 6-for-21 with four walks last week.

  • Oakland's Sean Manaea no-hit the eventual World Champion Red Sox in April 2018. But the 2021 edition of the Red Sox pounded him for 10 hits in two innings on 5/13. The only Sox to play in both games were J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers.

  • Milwaukee SP Corbin Burnes's record-setting streak of K's without a walk to open the season ended at 58 on 5/13, when he walked Tommy Edman of St. Louis.

  • On 5/10, the Pirates cut Todd Frazier loose; he was only 3-for-35 this season and at 35, he may be through.

  • Braves superstar Ronald Acuna scared every Braves teammate, coach, executive and fan when he collapsed with an injured ankle 5/13. Just as with his busted finger from 5/8, Acuna escaped major injury and pinch-hit 5/16.

  • Former Mets star pitcher Matt Harvey—now with Baltimore—made his first Citi Field start as a visitor 5/12. Though Harvey got a nice ovation from the fans, Mets hitters weren't as kind.

  • Tigers DH Miguel Cabrera continues to climb the hit charts. With seven last week, Miggy passed Omar Vizquel and Frankie Frisch for 42nd place all-time. He now stands 117 away from 3,000—with good health, Cabrera may get there this season.

  • Lindor (of the Mets) did not get in any silly fights this week, but he still struggled on both sides of the ball. Lindor was 3-for-18 last week, but did sock his third homer. 

  • Watch out, American League: Yankees OF Aaron Judge is hot. How hot? Try 12-for-21 with five homers last week! His bash brother Giancarlo Stanton, searing-hot at the beginning of the month, was limited to 2-for-11 in three games last week as he battled a quad injury. And Judge's outfield mate Aaron Hicks hit the IL with a bad wrist; he won't be back for a long while. 

  • Not only did MLB go a whole week without a no-hitter, but there were no individual shutouts or even complete games last week. 

Sources: MLB Network, ESPN, NBC Sports, MLB.com, several television/radio broadcasts and my own personal research