Barely four games into 2022, the Giants were facing a medium-scale crisis: They couldn’t force damage with runners in scoring position.
All of that changed Tuesday evening when San Francisco (3-2) erupted at the plate, scoring nine earned runs in the first two frames against veteran All-Star starter Yu Darvish, roughing up the San Diego Padres 13-2 at Oracle Park.
The damage against Darvish was extensive, recalling scenes from last season when the Giants faced the right-hander four times and tagged him for 14 runs in 21-2/3 innings.
Rocking their orange city connect uniforms for the first time this season, the San Francisco offense found production from almost every spot in the lineup. Brandon Belt – their hottest hitter – played the role of catalyst and started proceedings with a two-run homer to left-center in the first inning.
Even with his lack of at-bats in spring training, Belt has reached base in nine of his last 19 appearances. He also extended his hitting streak to 15 straight games against National League West opponents. His homer was the first for the Giants since Opening Day last Friday, uncharacteristically going three games without a long ball.
Darvish’s first inning didn’t get any easier. After Darin Ruf and Brandon Crawford walked, Thairo Estrada roped a two-run double before Steven Duggar followed up with a sacrifice fly. Joey Bart continued his consistent string of at-bats with a line drive RBI single up the middle, concluding a six-run opening frame.
The Giants raised some eyebrows after shattering a few controversial unwritten rules. San Diego took issue with Duggar’s stolen base in the third while up nine runs, and Mauricio Dubon‘s bunt single in the sixth. Kapler spoke about the topic of unwritten rules:
I fully support both of those decisions … And our goal is not exclusively to win one game in a series, it is to try to win the entire series. So sometimes that means trying to get a little bit deeper into the opposition’s bullpen and I understand that many teams don’t love that strategy. And I get why. It’s something that we talked about as a club for the season, and that we were comfortable going forward with that strategy. It’s not to be disrespectful in any way. It’s because we feel just very cool and strategic. It’s the best way to try to win a series.”
San Francisco’s offensive explosion connects to conversations Kapler has been having with his hitters. Giants batters have been chasing a lot of fastballs up in the zone, and team hitting instructors observed that pitchers with more vertical movement were deceiving hitters with fastballs that appear to be down the middle but rise at the last second. To combat this, Kapler’s message to his lineup was simple: if fastballs down the middle rise, fastballs low in the zone could leak over the plate.
The laws of physics agree, right?
It seemed that way against Darvish, whom they knocked out of the game in the second inning after he ran into more trouble. Crawford grounded into a double play to score a run, Wilmer Flores and Duggar added RBI singles, and Estrada collected an RBI double for his third RBI of the night.
Mike Yastrzemski’s bat has heated up as of late. Entering the game, the Giants right fielder was 1-for-10 with a walk and three strikeouts. After leading off the game with a single, he stepped up again in the fifth and blasted an RBI double to left-center against Dinelson Lamet to make it 11-2.
Padres outfielder Wil Myers entered to pitch in the eighth with his club trailing by a large margin. Joc Pederson golfed a low-60s pitch for his first homer with the Giants. Two batters later, Flores followed suit., destroying a 59 mph pitch over the left field wall to make it 13-2.
Alex Cobb made a strong impression in his Giants debut, tossing five innings, allowing two earned runs, two walks while striking out ten Padres.
Cobb, 34, signed to a two-year deal worth $25 million with San Francisco during the offseason. Though he carries a track record of extensive injury history and inconsistencies, Cobb’s fastball and splitter combination produced 14 whiffs. Unexpectedly, he’s throwing much harder, too. He threw the fastest pitch of his career in the first, a 96.3 mph sinker.
On his outing, Cobb said:
Life on your pitches is nice. I think the biggest thing it does, it allows me to make mistakes. I mean, I missed multiple fastballs over the middle today. So, when you’re free and you’re not feeling like you have to be perfect with your location you can definitely expand the zone a little bit. Not to feel so tense in your delivery and just getting a better rhythm. So I think that’s the biggest thing to take away with it. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself.”
One full time through the rotation, Giants starting pitchers have thrown 24 innings with 36 strikeouts and a 3.00 ERA.
Alyssa Nakken – the Giants trailblazing assistant coach – once again made history as the first on-field woman coach in Major League Baseball history when she took the field in the bottom of the third inning as the first base coach after Antoan Richardson was ejected.
On the occation, Kapler said:
Alyssa is a coach that is very well prepared to go coach first base and it was a cool opportunity for her but I don’t think there was anything other than ‘hey we need you to have a helmet on when you go out.'”
The Giants finish off their series against the Padres Wednesday afternoon at Oracle Park. The rotation flips back to Logan Webb (0-0, 1.50 ERA), who comes off a strong Opening Day outing where he fired six scoreless frames against the Marlins. San Diego will send newly acquired left-hander Sean Manaea (1-0,0.00) to the mound. It marks Manaea’s first return to the Bay Area after the Athletics dealt him in Spring Training as Oakland continues with their massive rebuild. First pitch is 12:45 p.m.
Submarine specialist Tyler Rogers has been placed on paternity leave. Marte was called up to the big leagues for the first time as a corresponding move. Marte, 27, was once a Kansas City Royals prospect and was a key bullpen piece for Triple-A Sacramento last season. … The Giants expect reliever John Brebbia to return on Wednesday from the Bereavement List. The right-hander was placed inactive on Sunday afternoon for unspecified reasons. … Infielder Tommy La Stella was seen taking ground balls ahead of Tuesday night’s contest. He was placed on the injured list retroactive to April 10 with right achilles inflammation, an issue in relation to the surgery he underwent in October 2021. … Evan Longoria’s right hand is no longer immobilized or in a brace after a March 29 operation to repair a ligament in his index finger. He’s been taking light ground balls on the grass before games. Originally, he was supposed to miss four to six weeks but all signs point towards a possible early return – closer to the four weeks minimum. … LaMonte Wade Jr. has been throwing and hitting off a tee and was scheduled to start a running progression program sometime this week. … Heliot Ramos had a nice moment with his family ahead of Tuesday night’s game: