The San Francisco Giants weren’t just looking for a series victory over the Los Angeles Angels Wednesday night, they were looking for a convincing series victory. If not for a blown save Monday night in Anaheim, the Giants would be in a position to sweep the struggling Angels.
A productive outing from Kevin Gausman (W, 5-1/3 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 8 Ks), and an offensive explosion from the Giants, ignited by Wilmer Flores (3-for-4, HR, 4 RBIs), propelled the Giants to 10-5 win Wednesday night and as a series win over the Angels.
Offensively the Giants have been great. Prior to Thursday’s game, the team made a splash, calling up their top overall prospect, Joey Bart. He made his major league debut, catching Gausman, and batting sixth in the Giants lineup.
Gausman opposed Angels lefty Jose Suarez.
With one out in the top of the first inning, Tommy La Stella hit a ground-rule double to right-center off Gausman (W, 1-1, 4.65 ERA). Mike Trout struck out before Anthony Rendon lined a single up the middle. La Stella scored, and the Angels took a 1-0 lead against Gausman in the first.
Austin Slater led off the bottom of the first with a double of his own. Flores, one of the hottest bats in the Giants lineup, crushed a two-run home run to left-center, tying him with Mike Yastrzemski for the team lead (6).
Brandon Belt walked, and Bart was hit by a pitch in his first major league plate appearance. The Giants stranded both runners, but not before taking the lead.
The Angels continued to hit Gausman in the second inning. With one out, both Joe Adell and Max Stassi singled, putting runners at first and second. Luis Rengifo grounded out and David Fletcher lined out to end the inning.
Thursday was shaping up to be a good offensive game for both sides. The Giants led off the bottom of the second inning with back-to-back singles from Brandon Crawford and Mauricio Dubon. A wild pitch advanced both runners to second and third with nobody out.
With one out, Yastrzemski came through big. A two-run double to right-center extended the Giants lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the second.
The Giants offense knocked the Angels starter, Suarez (L, 0-1, 33.75 ERA) out of the game after 1-1/3 innings pitched.
Flores followed the double with a walk. Evan Longoria extended the Giants lead to 5-1 with an RBI single to center field.
Brandon Belt walked, and the bases were loaded for Bart, with only one out. He would have to wait a little bit longer for that first major league hit, going down on strikes for the second out.
Crawford struck out and the Giants threat was finally over.
A stress-free inning for Gausman in the third aside from a two-out single from Rendon. To this point, the Giants held Trout hitless in his last seven at-bats.
After Thursday’s game, Gausman discussed Bart’s debut behind the plate and what it was like throwing to a catcher making his major league debut:
“I thought he did great back there, given the circumstances of just the way that the game went. It wasn’t the smoothest game, we had a super long inning there, I think it was like 45 minutes. I could tell from the get-go when I was warming up, he’s a big presence back there and gives you a good target. Really good at stealing strikes. I’m looking forward to building that relationship. He only caught me a couple of times in spring, but I thought he did a great job tonight, called a good game. I only had to shake him off tonight a couple of times. I thought we were able to minimize the damage.”
Dubon led off the bottom of the third with a walk, followed by a shallow single to right field off the bat of Slater. Yastrzemski advanced Dubon to third on a sac-fly to right for the first out.
Slater stole second, tying him for the major league lead at six stolen bases. The Giants hottest hitter, Flores, came through once more. A two-run single extended the Giants lead to 8-1 in the bottom of the third.
Gausman, on cruise control, continued to mow down the Angels lineup. Five strikeouts through four innings.
The offense is a starting pitchers’ best friend. Gausman talked about pitching with a sizable lead, and the Giants’ offensive performance as of late:
“It’s been great, it seems like everybody’s putting together strong, quality at-bats. [Brandon] Crawford has been swinging the bat really well. [Wilmer] Flores it seems like every hit he has is with two strikes. When you have guys like that who are continually having good AB’s, I think it just sets it up for the next guy coming up. I think that’s what the guys have been doing really well.”
Crawford wasn’t pleased with the Giants seven-run margin. A solo home run from the Giants shortstop in the bottom of the fourth extended their lead to 9-1.
That home run was a big one for Crawford, his 100th career home run.
After the game Crawford discussed his 100th home run milestone:
“It’s really cool. It’s something i never really dreamed of doing in the major leagues, being able to hit 100 home runs. It’s pretty cool, it definitely adds to the win tonight, how special the win was.”
Trouble for Gausman in the fifth. Rengifo singled, as did Fletcher, and the Angels had runners on first and third with nobody out. A grounder to second for out number one forced in the runner from third. A single from Trout gave the Angels first and third once more.
Rendon smoked a base hit up the middle, his third hit. One more run scored, and the Giants lead was trimmed to 9-3. Shohei Ohtani went down swinging for out number two, as did Brian Goodwin. Gausman escaped disaster.
Flores collected his third hit of the night in the bottom of the fifth. Aside from that, a quiet half inning.
Gausman surrendered a solo home run to Anthony Bemboom in the top of the sixth inning. That would end Gausman’s outing.
Sam Selman, who is having one of the best seasons of any Giants reliever, replaced Gausman in the sixth with one out.
Selman walked Rengifo, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. With two outs, La Stella grounded out to end the threat.
Belt singled to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. Bart, in his first career game, doubled to left field for his first major league hit. The first of many for Bart.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler on Joey Bart’s debut:
“I thought he did a really good job with staying calm and professional. I thought the at bat quality was good. Obviously he got his first major league hit, so that’s a huge plus, and it was a bullet down the left field line. I also thought he moved well behind the plate and had some nice blocks. Overall I thought it was a great game to get your feet wet in. He had to tackle several pitching changes, so it was also a challenge. He did a nice job.”
Dickerson knocked in the Giants tenth run on a sac fly to left, scoring Belt. Crawford walked, and the Giants had runners on first and second with one out. Dubon flew out, Slater lined out, and the Giants were retired.
Shaun Anderson replaced Selman at the top of the seventh inning. Trout led off with a triple to left field. Rendon followed with a strikeout, Ohtani with a grounder back to Anderson, and just like that, two outs with Trout still at third.
Anderson walked both Goodwin and Adell to load the bases. Wandy Peralta came in to clean up the mess. A third-straight walk forced in a run. The Giants lead has been trimmed to 10-5. A strikeout ended the threat.
Peralta came back out for the top of the eighth inning, setting down the Angels in order. Giants wen’t down quietly in the bottom of the inning.
On to the ninth inning, the Giants held on to a 10-5 lead, looking for a series victory.
Jarlin Garcia took over for the Giants in the ninth inning.
And how about this? A second-consecutive stress-free ninth inning. Garcia retired the side in order.
- To make room for Bart, the Giants had to send one of their struggling catchers down to the alternate site in Sacramento, while also clearing a spot on the 40-man roster. Tyler Heineman was the catcher Bart replaced on the active roster.
- During the game, unfortunate news broke regarding Pablo Sandoval and his family.