Reporting from ORACLE PARK
Talk has swirled around the San Francisco rotation in 2023. It’s true, the depth isn’t where they thought it would be. Injuries, along with severe inconsistency, have plagued the Giants to the point of having just two reliable starters: Logan Webb and Alex Cobb.
On Tuesday, Cobb thrived, turning in another strong outing as San Francisco (55-47) snapped a six-game losing streak by defeating the Oakland Athletics 2-1 at Oracle Park.
The sharp performance from their All-Star starting pitcher came at a crucial, almost desperate, time for the Giants, as the squad comes off a 5-6 east coast road trip where they showed few signs of life, especially offensively.
The National League playoff race continues to unravel with too many teams for not enough spots, and the Giants needed Cobb to open up the nine-game homestand with a bang. The veteran right-hander fired six shutout innings, allowing just three hits while striking out a season-high nine. He threw 95 pitches.
On snapping the streak, Cobb had glowing things to say about the future of the club:
“We know that we’re a playoff caliber team. We’ve been very streaky. … Trying to end those losing streaks as quickly as possible and we weren’t able to do that on the back end of that road trip. So we wanted to definitely get home and just end it right there and start a new streak in the other direction.”
Cobb has historically been solid at Oracle Park. Entering Tuesday, he had posted a 4-0 record with a 0.55 ERA with 26 strikeouts and a 1.06 WHIP in his last five starts at home. After the victory, he extended his streak of allowing two-or-fewer runs at home to six games, becoming the first Giant in the modern era to achieve this feat. He also lowered his career ERA against the A’s to 1.80, which is his lowest against any team with a minimum of five starts.
Despite racking up strikeouts early on, Cobb wasn’t exactly happy with the efficiency of the early innings:
I think I wasn’t really happy with the efficiency of everything. There was a lot of searching for the split, which probably led to some wasted pitches. I felt like with the way the other pitches were working, I definitely could have worked deeper into the game but I had too many wasted pitches early on to to get that opportunity to go on to the seventh.
Oakland pitching matched Cobb with an excellent outing from young lefty Ken Waldichuk, who threw 4-1/3 innings out of relief following an opener. The Giants managed to load the bases in the fifth, but brought home just one run, when Casey Schmitt drove home Wilmer Flores with a sacrifice fly to right.
Flores has been red-hot since June, going 34-for-90 (.377) with 15 runs, eight doubles, seven homers and 16 RBI in 31 games.
The Giants’ high-leverage relievers have stayed relatively fresh, since the team hasn’t had to hold the lead recently. So, it was a fresh group for Kapler, including righty Tyler Rogers, who turned in a scoreless seventh inning before coughing up a game-tying RBI single to JJ Bleday in the eighth to knot it up at 1-1 and cost Webb the win he deserved.
The Giants threatened in the ninth against Oakland’s bullpen. With two on in the ninth, pinch-hitter Mike Yastrzemski knocked an RBI double down the right field line to put the Giants back on top and give closer Camilo Doval an opportunity to convert his MLB-leading 31st save.
Yastrzemski had been scuffling and the clutch hit ended a 0-for-20 stretch. Despite the lack of results, the outfielder has been satisfied with his plate appearances. Manager Gabe Kapler agreed:
“He’s been having really quality at-bats. He hasn’t been rewarded when he’s hit the ball on the screws. And when he hasn’t hit the ball on the screws, he hasn’t been rewarded for those either.”
Fans ‘unite’ against greedy A’s owners
As the A’s prepare for a possible relocation to Las Vegas, hundreds of Bay Area fans united together to protest the move by organizing a series of demonstrations to share their displeasure with the team’s ownership group. Outside the ballpark, Oakland-based apparel companies Last Dive Bar and Oakland 68s passed out black shirts with the word “SELL” plastered across the front –– a message for A’s owner John Fisher to sell the club.
Inside, fans were instructed by organizers to stand in silence during the first at-bat in the top of the fifth inning to honor the 55 years of baseball in Oakland. When the at-bat concluded, a loud “sell the team” chant broke out across the ballpark.
The Giants and A’s conclude the Bay Bridge Series on Wednesday night at Oracle Park and they’ll face lefty Hogan Harris (2-4, 6.11 ERA). San Francisco has not yet announced a starter for the game. First pitch is 6:45 p.m.
It’s been a rough stretch for the Giants as of late with a dire need of some type of spark. As the Aug. 1 trading deadline looms, the organization holds hope for internal additions to their active roster, specifically off the injured list. The lineup has featured a significant blemish since Thairo Estrada suffered a fractured left hand on July 3, but the second baseman appears to be recovering nicely. He played catch up to 90 feet ahead of Tuesday’s action and took ground balls at second base and shortstop. … Luis Gonzalez has been the forgotten man in San Francisco’s outfield plans, but he’s on the comeback trail from back surgery and will shift his rehab to Triple-A Sacramento. … Brandon Crawford is on-track to return from his left knee injury on Friday against Boston.
Steven Rissotto has covered the San Francisco Giants for SFBay since 2021. He is the host of RizzoCast, a baseball interview show featuring players, coaches, media and fans. He attends San Francisco State University and will major in Journalism and minor in education.