Game One: Dodgers 7 Giants 2
The Shark Fails To Swim
The Giants started this game with the man they call the “Shark”: Jeff Samardzija. Unfortunately, it would not be his night. The “Shark” would give up six runs, five earned over just four innings. Five of those runs were home runs from Mookie Betts (Solo), Max Muncy (Solo), and Will Smith (two-run). Samardzija struggled the entire night with declining stuff and regularly missed location. He didn’t receive much help from his defense either as another Giants error by Darin Ruf cost them a run. We may be witnessing the permanent downfall of Jeff Samardzija in 2020.
He would depart in the fifth with the bases loaded and nobody out. Sam Selman replaced him and nearly pulled a Houdini act getting Muncy to fly out to shallow center and inducing a (Chris) Taylor-made double-play ball to third. However, Solano couldn’t get a grip on the ball and another Giant’s mistake led to a run against.
Giants’ Lackluster Offense
The Giants did get another pair of hits from their best hitters as Yaz doubled in the top of the 3rd. He was promptly driven in by Donovan Solano who blooped a single into center field. Wilmer Flores also made an appearance with a solo home run to left field off of Dennis Santana at the top of the 6th. The Dodgers led 6 to 2 after five innings. Not much else would happen for the Giants offensively for the remainder of the evening.
The Good, The Bad, And The Bullpen
Sam Selman continued to dominate the Dodgers as he cruised through the 5th and 6th with three strikeouts only giving up the one run charged to Samardzija. Rico Garcia replaced Selman for the 7th inning. He immediately struggled with his control walking the leadoff hitter. However, Garcia worked through his control issues to hold the Dodgers. Wandy Peralta replaced Garcia in the 8th and immediately served up a solo home run to Edwin Rios. He held the Dodgers to just the one run. However, the home run made it 7-2 which would be the final.
Game One Takeaways
Sam Selman was extremely impressive over his two frames and at just 29 he could be a bullpen piece the Giants hold on to. Wilmer Flores had a big day with a solo home run and a double. The solo home run came off of a right-handed pitcher no less! Chadwick Tromp collected two singles going two for four.
Finally, Austin Slater is showing his chops as a leadoff man as he collected a triple, a walk, and a stolen base in three plate appearances. In a 2020 season that may be a long one for Giants fans, it is important to focus on the positive nuggets that look towards the future. That being said, Samardzija looks washed and Wandy Peralta struggled once again. Peralta should bounce back but the same cannot be said of the “Shark”.
Giants Fangraphs Playoff Odds: 9.9%
Game Two: Giants 5 Dodgers 4
Cueto Cruises, Then Cracks
The Giants sent Johnny Cueto to the mound for game two of the three-game set against the Dodgers. Cueto used his stumbling, bumbling ways to keep the Dodgers off balance through a hit-less five innings. The only Dodger base runner was a Chris Taylor walk. Unfortunately, the 6th inning was once again the Giants starting pitchers’ nightmare.
Enrique Hernandez got the first hit of the game when Hunter Pence lost a routine fly ball in the lights. Hernandez would end up all the way on third base. He would score on a groundout but it didn’t end there. Cueto would walk the next two hitters and look injured at one point limping off the mound. However, he convinced Kapler to let him stay in the game and promptly gave up a three-run home run to Justin Turner. That made the score 5 to 4 Giants.
Slater Showcases Strength, Yaz Yanks Another
The Giants got two of those five runs from two solo home runs by Austin Slater. Both of which came off Clayton Kershaw. Slater has been leading off for the Giants against left-handers and he is making his case to be the leadoff hitter regardless of pitcher. He is the only Giants hitter to have a multi-home run game off of Kershaw.
Yaz also took Kershaw deep in the 3rd along with Slater’s first. Yaz followed Slater’s second home run in the 5th by doubling home Donovan Solano. Solano stretched his hitting streak to 13 games when he singled in the first. He would end up with a ho-hum three for five-night. Longoria continued to rake since he came off the injured list as he went two for four with two singles. Dubon would pick up an RBI when he drove home Hunter Pence with a sac fly in the 6th. That gave the Giants their 5th and final run.
Rogers Roasts, Gott Gasses, Giants Win
Tony Watson replaced Cueto in the 6th and retired the only batter he faced. Tyler Rogers entered the game in the 7th and he cruised through two innings untouched. Rogers induced soft contact with ease and the Dodgers looked flummoxed by the weirdness that is Tyler Rogers. He is beginning to look like the version of Tyler Rogers that had a 1.02 ERA in 2019.
Trevor Gott came in to save the game in the ninth inning. He retired Cody Bellinger on just two pitchers with a fly-out to center. Gott walked Turner as the red one refused to chase Gott’s tantalizing curveball. He retired Muncy as he popped up a high fastball giving him an 0-4 night. Finally, Gott would hang a curveball that Pollock would get under and fly out to right.
Game Two Takeaways
The first takeaway has to be Austin Slater. Two home runs off of Clayton Kershaw is no easy task and Slater did it with ease. He has become a dangerous hitter against lefties for the Giants. Frankly, Slater has put himself in the conversation to be the leadoff hitter on an everyday basis.
Yaz continued his bid to be considered the Giants best player. Not many lefties can say they have hit a home run off of Clayton Kershaw but Yaz can now lay claim. Add an RBI double and Yaz is becoming a hitter every team is focused on.
Johnny Cueto was impressive for the most part making one big mistake. The stuff isn’t what it once was but Cueto proved that location is everything. He stuck to the corners of the strike zone and took advantage of the Dodgers’ aggressive nature. If Pence catches that ball in the 6th we may be having a no-hitter conversation.
Finally, torture is back! The Giants outplayed the Dodgers in every facet of this game by a landslide. That being said, the Giants still only had a one-run lead and the tying run on base in the ninth. If you aren’t sweating then is it really Giants baseball?
Giants Fangraphs Playoff Odds: 13.1%
Game Three: Dodgers 6 Giants 2
Gausman Great Again
Kevin Gausman started the final game of the series for the Giants on Sunday and he was fantastic. He cruised through 6 1/3 innings, striking out six, allowing one run in the process. Gausman used his fastball and change-up with the occasional curveball and kept the Dodgers off-balance all night. He should be considered the Giants’ best starting pitcher by a landslide. Gausman became the first Giants starting pitcher to get through six innings.
Yaz Once Again
It’s a broken record at this point but Mike Yastrzemski was once again the leader of the Giants offense. Walker Buehler shut down the Giants through four innings allowing no hits. However, in the 5th inning, Sandoval walked and Slater got hit by a pitch. They advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. Yaz came up and lined a single to center for the Giants’ first hit as Sandoval and Slater came around to score. That gave the Giants a 2-0 lead.
Kapler’s Questionable Call
Kevin Gausman was pulled in the 7th inning and was replaced by Tyler Rogers. Rogers pitched two full innings in game two of this series. With a runner on first already, Rogers gave up a single and a two-out three-run home run to A.J. Pollock which gave the Dodgers a three to two lead. Kapler’s decision to bring in a pitcher who threw two innings the night before is a bewildering one. That decision hurt the Giants very badly. Everything spiraled from there. Shaun Anderson gave up a three-run home run to Mookie Betts in the eighth that made it six to two. The Giants wouldn’t score again and the Dodgers would win by the final of six to two.
Game Three Takeaways
The first take away is Kevin Gausman who was phenomenal in this game. He continues to pitch like the Giants were hoping he would when they handed him nine million dollars in the off-season.
The second is that the Giants offense was stumped by Walker Buehler and the Dodger bullpen. There isn’t anyone at fault for that as Buehler is one of the better pitchers in the league. Still, a disheartening performance.
Finally, Gabe Kapler. The decision to put in Tyler Rogers, after he threw two innings the night before, is one that makes no sense whatsoever. Kapler’s ability to manage a bullpen should be seriously thrown into question after he cost the Giants a series win against the Dodgers.
Starting Pitching Solid
Outside of a rough performance from an injured Jeff Samardzija in game one. Other than that Johnny Cueto no-hit the Dodgers through five innings then made one bad pitch. While Kevin Gausman dominated the Dodgers through 6 innings before the bullpen charged him with some runs. A major issue for the Giants in the first several games may have turned into a strength.
Bullpen Breaks Down
Staying in the same vein. The Giants’ bullpen had been a strength over the first few series of the season while the Giants starters got stretched out. However, they struggled mightily in Coors and did no better against the Dodgers. The Giants need their bullpen to perform if they have any hopes of winning games.
Offense Is Unspectacular
The Giants offense had been a nice surprise over the first part of the season. However they struggled to produce against the vaunted Dodgers pitching. While they got to Kershaw in game two, they could only manage four runs in the other two games. Austin Slater and Mike Yastrzemski were bright spots in this series but the offense struggled as a whole. It’s on to Houston.
Giants Fangraphs Playoff Odds: 10.9%
The Giants will now head to Houston to square off with the always loveable Houston Astros. Keep a keen eye on the Giants pitchers to see if there will be any retaliation for the offseason sign-stealing scandal. The first game of the series will begin Monday at 6:10 P.M. (PT). The Giants have not announced a starter while the Astros will roll with Lance McCullers Jr.
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