After being shut out this season for the first time on Monday, the Giants sent out Kevin Gausman to match Reds ace Luis Castillo Tuesday night. And, in a you’re-not-going-to-believe-what-happened first inning, both teams went toe-to-toe with a pair of two-run homers each, kicking off an offense-filled evening that ended up a 7-6, come-from-behind San Francisco victory.
Both pitchers struggled early, each surrendering a matching pair of two-run home runs to the opposing teams. After falling behind early, the Giants (7-4) climbed back into Tuesday’s game behind big home runs from Mike Yastrzemski (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBIs), Brandon Crawford (1-for-3, HR, 2 RBIs), and Evan Longoria (2-for-4, HR, RBI).
Not only has Gausman (W, 6 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 2 BBs, 7 Ks, 3.20 ERA) been the Giants best pitcher thus far, he’s been one of the better pitches in the league through two starts. That changed very quickly in the first inning.
Nick Castellanos singled with one out and scored on a two-run home run off the bat of Joey Votto. Next better, Eugenio Suarez walked and later scored on a second-consecutive two-run home run, this time off the bat of Mike Moustakas. Back-to-back two-run home runs gave the Reds (7-4) a very quick 4-0 lead against Gausman and the Giants in the first.
The Giants responded with a sense of urgency. Tommy La Stella walked to lead off the bottom of the first inning, coming around to score on a rocket of a home run over the right field wall off the bat of Yastrzemski. Just like that, the Giants trimmed the Reds lead to 4-2.
Yastrzemski’s home run was a rocket off the bat, clocked at 109.4 mph, the hardest-hit ball of his career. After the game, Yastrzemski gave most of the credit to the pitcher and his velocity:
“Yeah it felt like i hit it hard, but when you have a guy throwing that hard, they’re usually the one supplying the power. That’s kind of how it goes sometimes.”
Following Yastrzemski’s two-run homer, Longoria singled to center field. The next batter, Crawford, launched a two-run home run of his own, tying the game at 4-4. Back-to-back two-run homers in both the top and bottom of the first is a hilarious, yet exciting, way to begin a baseball game.
After allowing four runs in the first inning on two separate two-run homers, Gausman was thrilled with the job his offense did in the bottom half of the inning to quickly climb back from the deficit:
“That was huge, from a momentum standpoint. To come back and make it a 0-0 game right away is huge. Unfortunately, I kind of gave it right back to them and gave them the lead. The guys just battled and put together a bunch of good at-bat’s, and [Austin Slater] came up in a big situation. [Evan Longoria] told me ‘hey keep your head down, keep going, keep grinding. We’re going to win this game.’ With these guys, you just feel pretty confident that eventually, they’re going to get the job done.”
In a matter of minutes, Gausman watched his four-run deficit and Castillo watched his four-run lead vanish right before their eyes.
The Reds continued to score runs in the top of the second inning. Jesse Winker walked with two outs in the inning, scoring from first on a double down the left field line off the bat of Castellanos. The Reds extended their lead to 5-4.
Fast forward to the top of the sixth inning, Gausman still in the game, and pitching much better than he did in the first two innings. He started the inning at 80 pitches, and ended at 90, giving him a chance at the seventh inning.
Tuesday night’s home run derby continued in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Longoria launched a solo home run to left-center field, tying the game at 5-5. The fifth home run in the game, and third by a Giants hitter.
The Giants lineup bounced back in a big way Tuesday night. They saw a lot of pitches, made opposing pitchers work hard, and worked counts up and down the lineup. Giants manager Gabe Kapler was very pleased with what he saw from the offense:
“There’s a lot of confidence up and down our lineup. I don’t think we’ve lost any of that from the way we’ve started [the season]. We haven’t scored that many runs, and obviously, the surface level numbers aren’t where we all would like them to be. I think what tonight demonstrated was that we are resilient, we aren’t going to get down on ourselves, we aren’t going to lose confidence because we have a stretch of ten or sometimes even more games where we’re not putting up big numbers. That’s the ebb and flow of baseball, and we have to be even through those times and be resilient and fight hard through them so we come out on the other end and things start to click. The only way we do that is maintaining our confidence and staying patient.”
It seemed as if the Giants could only score runs by way of the home run. Two batters later, Buster Posey singled to left, scoring on a long triple off the bat of Austin Slater in triples alley, giving the Giants a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Gausman would not come out of the seventh inning, being pinch hit for in the bottom of the sixth. Wandy Peralta replaced Gausman out of the bullpen.
Kapler discussed Gausman’s outing after Tuesday’s win, praising his veteran starter for grinding away after a rough start:
“It was a pretty impressive outing for [Kevin Gausman]. It’s not always going to go perfectly smoothly. It seems like we’ve gotten a little spoiled by Gausman’s outings, we just expect six innings and zero, one, or two runs every time out there. It’s not going to work out that way. There will be times where we need him to be gritty and grind through the middle of the game, and give us a chance to win. That’s exactly what he did tonight.”
Jonathan India singled to lead off the top of the seventh, advancing to second on a balk, and to third on a wild pitch. A disastrous start for Peralta. A shallow single over the head of Crawford at short allowed India to score, tying the game 6-6. After allowing the tying run, Peralta worked his way out of the inning without doing any more damage.
Both pinch-hitter Donovan Solano and Yastrzemski walked to begin the bottom of the seventh inning. With no outs and runners on first and second, pinch hitter Mauricio Dubon grounded into a force out at second base, reaching first base safely, and giving the Giants runners on the corners with one out.
Wilmer Flores scored Solano from third on a sacrifice fly to center field, giving the Giants a 7-6 lead. Now came the difficult part, holding on to a one run lead for two more innings against a home run hitting Reds team.
Tyler Rogers took over in the top of the eighth inning, retiring the first two Reds on strikeouts before surrendering a double to Suarez who would be left stranded at third base after the third strikeout of the inning from Rogers.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Giants were looking for insurance runs. Crawford walked to lead off the inning, advancing to second on a ground out by Posey. Slater singled past the diving first baseman, advancing Posey to third. With one out, the Giants had runners at the corners.
Pinch hitter Curt Casali went down swinging for the second out. Solano walked to load the bases for Yastrzemski with two outs. Unable to add on any insurance runs, Yastrzemski went down swinging to end the inning. Closer Jake McGee on for the save in the top of the ninth inning.
McGee walked a hitter, but retired the Reds without much stress in the ninth inning. The Giants took game two.
Following the Giants win over the Reds Tuesday night, the two teams will play the final game of a three-game series Wednesday afternoon. Johnny Cueto will get the start against Reds righty Tyler Mahle.