Home Sports What we learned as Giants’ bullpen goes distance in walk-off win

What we learned as Giants’ bullpen goes distance in walk-off win

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NBC Sports BayArea

What we learned as the Giants’ bullpen goes far in victory originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area


SAN FRANCISCO — So encouraging How was the last road trip?, it was still easy to wonder if the Giants were actually playing much better baseball or if they had simply played a series of pretty bad teams. It’s time to stop wondering.

With Luis Matos’ sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th on Tuesday, the Giants earned a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Oracle Park and earned a series victory over the team with the best record. of the National League. Since a deflating loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers two weeks ago at home, the Giants have won 10 of 12 and four straight series.

Even with how well the Giants have been playing, this was a pretty big mismatch on paper. Zack Wheeler is a perennial Cy Young Award candidate and is pitching like someone who could finally take home the trophy this year, and the Giants responded with a bullpen game led by a pitcher who called on tuesday afternoon.

Naturally, this one was scoreless until extra innings.

The Giants had just two hits in eight, although a walk and a wild pitch gave them a good chance in the bottom of the eighth. They came up short and blew an even better opportunity in the bottom of the ninth. Back-to-back singles by Thairo Estrada and Matt Chapman set the stage, but Patrick Bailey flew to left, Jorge Soler jumped and Tyler Fitzgerald struck out.

Sean Hjelle stranded the automatic runner in the top of the tenth, retiring Alec Bohm and JT Realmuto with the lead run at third. In the bottom of the inning, the Giants finally broke through. Fitzgerald was placed at second to start the inning and came forward with a pair of medium fly balls, using his speed to bring home the game-winning goal.

The series victory is the first against a team with a winning record since the first home series of the year against the San Diego Padres.

Revenge Game, Part I

The Phillies took Spencer Howard with their second-round pick in 2017, and when he arrived in the majors in 2020, he was one of the best right-handed prospects in baseball. Howard made six starts during the pandemic-shortened season and seven the following year, but struggled and was sent to the Texas Rangers at the deadline.

The numbers were even worse (an 8.37 ERA) during parts of three seasons in Texas, but Howard was brilliant in his Giants debut, dishing out five hits in four innings and striking out four. His fastball averaged 94 mph and peaked at 96.

Keaton Winn is eligible to return as soon as Thursday and Mason Black will soon be eligible to be recalled from Triple-A, but Howard could have jumped to the top of the list for this fifth rotation spot, at least for the next pick. Winn struggled before going on the disabled list and Black has an 8.79 ERA in four appearances.

Revenge Game, Part II

Luis Matos twice hit balls that looked like they were going to find the seats, but other than that, the Giants never made Wheeler break a sweat. His 2009 first-rounder allowed just two hits in six innings and he struck out nine while lowering his ERA to 2.32. The Giants at least had some long plate appearances, preventing Wheeler from going even deeper.

Both starting pitchers were facing the team that drafted them. Erik Miller started for the Giants and struck out a pair in a scoreless first inning. Miller was a fourth-round pick by Philadelphia in 2019, but struggled with his command in the minor leagues. He was traded to the Giants for right-hander Yunior Marte, who pitched well earlier this season but is currently on the injured list.

The new boy

Trenton Brooks grew up outside San Diego and went to college in Reno, so it wasn’t a long trip for his family and friends. He received loud cheers all night, but struck out and flew out in two at-bats. With a lefty on the mound in the eighth, Wilmer Flores batted for Brooks.

The 28-year-old was making his MLB debut after 638 minor league appearances, and should have plenty of opportunities to get some firsts. With LaMonte Wade Jr. out for at least a month with a hamstring strain, the Giants will lean on Brooks as their left-handed bat at first base. He has a good glove there and did something of an imitation of Wade in Triple-A, reaching base at a .426 clip.

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