Giants 2019: This Week In Giants 4/7
Since the Giants only scored in three of 36 innings.at San Diego—dropping three of four games—and the Dodgers were busy breaking home run records in their opening series, prospects for SF victories weren't exactly sky-high.
Once 2B Joe Panik popped out to end the Padres series, the team headed up I-5 to Dodger Stadium, where an LA team already boasting 13 jacks (including eight in the opener, a MLB record) awaited them. For the most part—aside from being hit by two comebackers—Drew Pomeranz and his sharp curveball looked good in his Giants debut, cruising along after a shaky first inning...that is, until Chris Taylor (hitless to that point in 2019) and Alex Verdugo each went deep in the 5th.
Dodger RP Joe Kelly (a Pomeranz teammate in Boston the past few seasons) allowed a first-pitch CF bomb to Brandon Belt, whose signature moment to date in '19 was taking a called third "strike" from Lance Barksdale to end Game 2 of the Padres series (Belt seems to lead the world in questionable game-ending third strikes).
San Francisco rode that momentum for about 30 seconds until Kelly abused Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford to end the 6th. But then Belt struck again, doubling home the winning runs in the 7th inning and temporarily halting any "trade Brandon Belt" discussion.
* 3B Evan Longoria manned his position beautifully, turning a David Freese comebacker off Pomeranz' leg into a 1-5-3 barehand putout, then later erasing AJ Pollock on a grounder down the line that almost took him into the outfield!
Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the Giants ran out of offense and dropped the next two games despite scoring eight combined runs, just one less than they'd managed in Games 1 thru 5. Much was made about Connor Joe's failure to double off LA runner Hyun-Jin Ryu at 2B after a putout in LF; Bumgarner allowed a slam to the next hitter, Cody Bellinger, and despite MadBum homering himself later, the Giants never recovered. Strong defense is more than just not making errors—you've got to make plays when the opportunities arise, especially when your bat rack is infested with termites.
(Joe did manage his first MLB hit later in the week after an 0-for-13 start. Fellow roster surprise Michael Reed quickly lost said roster spot and was outrighted to AAA.)
Off day Thursday 4/4, (Home) Opening Day Friday 4/5. I tell you, SF did exceptionally well saluting the late Willie McCovey and Peter McGowan before the game; broadcaster Mike Krukow should be lauded for (mostly) checking his emotions while reading McGowan's personally-written speech.
Next, Bruce Bochy absorbed several minutes of deserved adulation before motioning for the proceedings to drag on. Whoever signals for the left-hander next year will have massive shoes (and a massive hat) to fill. Top notch, Boch.
* Dereck Rodriguez, who has spoiled everybody with solid performances almost every time out since his 2018 MLB promotion, didn't bring his A-game to the mound Saturday 4/6; his seven hits allowed tied a career-worst and he surrendered multiple homers for just the second time in his 23-game (21-start) career. As has become their early-season pattern, SF waited until the late innings to swing the bats, ultimately falling 5-2.
Everything flipped the next day, as Tampa's opener strategy and four-outfielder-vs-Belt strategy failed—the succeeding Rays pitchers coughed up Tampa's early lead and Belt simply hit one over the outfielders and the wall, his third blast of the year (Belt is tied for 10th in MLB and 5th in the NL in longballs, and only seven NLers have more RBI). RP Reyes Moronta bounced back after a tough Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium—reaching 99 at one point—and Will Smith retired Tommy Pham for the final out on a warning-track drive to LF, just how he drew it up.
This game featured San Francisco's first pre-4th-inning runs of 2019. But lest we believe the bats were woke, the Rays shut the Giants out 3-0 on Sunday 4/7, dropping their record to 3-7. (Nick Vincent, no more "pickoff" throws.)
* Ordinary numbers aside, Steven Duggar has looked good despite being displaced in CF by new acquisition Kevin Pillar—the Giants traded Alen Hanson and Derek Law to land Pillar from Toronto—and having his nose grazed by a Nick Margevicius pitch 3/30.
Post-trade, the first thing I thought: what can Pillar do that Gorkys Hernandez (currently toiling in Pawtucket, Boston's AAA team) could not? And for a lot less, I'm sure? Maybe he's just a nicer guy.
AROUND THE MAJORS
Troy Tulowitzki is hurt again (calf); there's a shocker. His Yankees were already minus Miguel Andujar, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Didi Gregorious and Giancarlo Stanton, among others...Arizona's Adam Jones ordered a fan removed for using vulgar, disrespectful language. GOOD; let's hope this becomes a trend...The hardest-luck pitcher ever last year, Jacob deGrom, is already 2-0 in 2019...Bryce Harper, the $330M man, is hitting .385 with a 1.402 OPS for Philadelphia. Still, he's not quite superhuman yet...
The Giants' debacle was not Kelly's first since joining LA, and the Dodger fans booed him off the field that night. Remember: he helped defeat them in last year's World Series, too...Oakland's Ramon Laureano threw out Xander Bogaerts (twice) and Mookie Betts in separate games, helping the A's take 3 of 4 from the champs. Boston's 3-8 start is their worst in a long time...Laureano's 12 assists since debuting last summer are double that of any other MLB outfielder...
Zero complete games in MLB these first two weeks; Cleveland's Trevor Bauer was pulled after seven hitless innings with a 117-pitch count 4/5...Jorge Polanco notched the season's first cycle 4/6...Through 4/7, after closing 2018 0-for-21, Baltimore's Chris Davis has opened 2019 0-for-23 with 13 K; despite that, Baltimore opened the year 4-1 before dropping four straight...three more hitless AB and Davis will break Eugenio Velez's record of 46...Diamondbacks C Alex Avila strained a quad circling the bases after a home run 4/7, and was placed on the IL.
Sources: MLB Network, ESPN, NBC Sports, MLB.com, several television/radio broadcasts and my own personal research