Alex Wood continued to play “stopper” for the Giants, firing 6 2/3 solid innings and improving his record to 9-0 in games after losses, as the Giants beat the Rockies 5-2 in the final game of a four-game set at Oracle Park on Sunday afternoon.
Along with Wood’s strong effort, San Francisco (76-42) saw contributions from Tommy La Stella (3-for-4) and Curt Casali (1-for-3), at the plate; the pair knocked in runs in the three-run fifth inning. LaMonte Wade Jr‘s seventh-inning throw from right field proved important, preventing the tying run from scoring.
Wood (W, 10-3, 4.14 ERA) has spoken about the great pride he carries as a stopper during this season. He’s taken the mound 11 times this season following a Giants loss, and the team has won all of those outings.
On Wood’s unique streak, Gabe Kapler said:
“I just think it’s kind of fun. I think he definitely likes the ball in his hand in a big moment. I think he likes the role of taking care of our team. I think he likes the role of taking care of our bullpen. And I think it’s just kind of cool that that’s lining up and syncing up with days after we don’t play our baseball he comes back the next day and performs well.”
Very quickly out of the gate, Wood retired the first nine batters he faced, in order. Working quickly, as he tends to, the perfect three innings he breezed through took less than a half-hour. Colorado’s first hit came in the fourth when Connor Joe led off with a single.
At his best, Wood thrives by inducing weak contact to the left side of the infield and mixing in his back-foot slider to right-handed hitters. Prior to Sunday, his ground ball rate checked in at 52.3 percent, the second-highest of his big league career and good enough for third-best in the National League. On Sunday afternoon, he showcased a variety of ways to get outs; five outs on the ground, eight in the air, and six strikeouts.
If Kapler would have asked for anything out of Wood, it would’ve been a deep outing after recent heavy bullpen usage; the Giants needed seven innings from their bullpen Saturday and four on Friday. Wood answered by firing 6 2/3 strong frames, allowing six hits, one walk, two earned run and striking out six.
On his outing, Wood said he felt good:
“You know, throughout the day, I thought my command and stuff overall was was pretty good. But you know, it’s always nice to go deep in the game, always nice to get a stop after a loss and it gives a series win. So it felt good. And hopefully this will propel us into a tough next two weeks.”
He started the seventh inning with a strikeout but allowed two singles, including a run-scoring hit to right from Elias Díaz to put Colorado (52-66) on the board. Charlie Blackmon was next, pinch-hitting in the pitcher’s spot, and lined another single to put the Rockies within one run at 3-2. Kapler saw enough and removed Wood, who walked off the mound to a thunderous ovation from his home crowd.
Right-hander Dominic Leone (2-2, 1.74 ERA) entered, automatically yielding a single to right. Diaz, a catcher with not a lot of speed, was being waved in but Wade’s throw from right was a laser beam to gun the tying run at the plate, keeping the score at 3-2.
The Giants continued to get crushed by the double-play ball, bouncing into two of them in the first three innings to erase consecutive leadoff singles. On Saturday, they hit into three double plays in consecutive frames.
La Stella said nobody was overly concerned with the douuble plays:
It’s a part of the game. You know, you can absolutely scorch a ball and it can end up being a double play. So it could be a good swing, bad result.”
Change came in the fifth when Mike Yastrzemski singled against Rockies starter Jon Gray (L, 7-9, 3.93 ERA) then stole second, eliminating the possibility of a double play ground ball. Casali followed with a bloop single to left-center that appeared too shallow to score Yastrzemski from second, but third base coach Ron Wotus took a gamble and fiercely waved him in. The throw was off-line, and a head-first Yastrzemskifirst slide gave the Giants a 1-0 lead.
San Francisco wasn’t finished in the fifth. Alex Dickerson singled, setting up an ideal sacrifice bunt situation for Wood. Instead, Gray uncorked a wild pitch that fled to the backstop, moving Casali and Dickerson to second and third. A few pitches later, Wood – a noted offensive liability riding an 0-for-33 stretch this season – worked a walk to load the bases.
La Stella stepped up and launched a long double that clanked off the top of bricks in right field to bring in two runs, knock out Gray, and make the score 3-0. It hit so far up the wall that the Giants challenged the call, contending the ball hit the green tin, an automatic homer at Oracle Park. After a quick review, the call on the field stood as a double and La Stella’s second hit of the game.
The bricks didn’t catch a break after that. After Kris Bryant emerged from the bench and reached on an error in the seventh, Austin Slater also came off the bench to smoke an opposite-field double off the bricks to extend San Francisco’s lead. A few batters later with the the bases juiced, Wilmer Flores lined an RBI single to left to make it 5-2.
La Stella on the offense’s mindset:
“Everybody’s very focused, very professional, the way they carry themselves, the way I go about their work, and their preparation. So it’s awesome. I mean, I think it takes the load off of one guy individually and just kind of spreads it throughout the lineup.”
Thursday – Rockies 0, Giants 7: San Francisco took the first game of the series against the Rockies behind a stellar performance from Logan Webb (W, 6-3, 2.96 ERA). The young right-hander tossed six innings of scoreless baseball, allowing three hits, two walks, while striking out eight. Webb also contributed at the plate, stepping up in the third inning and launching a long drive to deep center. Off the bat, it looked as if Webb had his first big league homer, but it bounced off the wall for a two-run single. Wade Jr. was next and crushed a three-run homer (15) to right-center field to bust the game open at its eventual final of 7-0. Dickerson and Casali each had RBI doubles.
Friday – Rockies 4, Giants 5: The Giants saw a strong performance from righty Anthony DeSclafani (W, 11-5, 3.29 ERA) and knocked 11 hits to win 5-4. The Giants went into the ninth inning up 5-2, but Colorado closed the gap McGee allowed a two-run homer. Zack Littell entered with two on and quickly slammed the door and notch the nail-biting save. The Giants scored four in the first inning thanks to a three-run homer from Wilmer Flores (15) and Thairo Estrada‘s run-scoring single. Slater notched three hits.
Saturday – Rockies 4, Giants 1: Gabe Kapler’s offense was shut down in the third game of the series against Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland (W, 4-6, 4.40 ERA). Aside from Donovan Solano‘s third-inning RBI single, the Giants couldn’t get much done against Freeland. On the pitching side, the Giants gave the ball to youngster Sammy Long (1-1, 5.72 ERA) in place of the injured Johnny Cueto (7-6, 3.89 ERA). Long turned in two innings of one-run ball then handed it over to Littell, who barred through three dominant innings in which he allowed nothing more than a walk. The loss also marked the return of veteran third baseman Evan Longoria from the injured list, who finished the night 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.
The Giants begin a three-game series against the New York Mets on Monday. The two National League contenders square off for the first time this season and first since July 2019. Kevin Gausman (11-5, 2.29 ERA) will make the start for San Francisco against Mets’ 41-year-old southpaw Rich Hill (6-4, 4.05 ERA). First pitch is 6:45 p.m.
Johnny Cueto (right flexor strain) played catch before Sunday afternoon’s game and thew up to 60-feet. Kapler said the session went “well” and that Cueto is still expected to miss one or two starts. … Jay Jackson was reinstated from the injured list and is feeling better after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. As a result, Long was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento, where the Giants hope he can work on pitch efficiency among other things. … Newly-claimed outfielder Luis Gonzalez was recalled and immediately placed on the 60-day injured list. Gonzalez had surgery on his right shoulder to repair a torn labrum.