Giants must find satisfaction in small pleasures
SAN FRANCISCO — So it’s the Yankees and Dodgers in the World Series, right? As the networks would have it. You think that, like in 1951, the Giants are going to fall 13½ games behind before becoming a contender? No chance.
Giants fans will have to find satisfaction in small pleasures, such as Hunter Pence on Sunday ending his 0-for-23 start this season. Or Jeff Samardzija not getting the loss after giving up five runs for a second straight game.
Or the undeniable fact that this team, which historically has always had pitching but almost no hitting, thus far has hitting but almost no pitching — although the pitching has been acceptable at times.
The Giants lost Sunday at Oracle Park, in a very Giant manner, coming back from four runs down to tie in the sixth and then getting swamped, 9-5, when the Texas Rangers scored (or were provided) four runs in the seventh.
Figurative phrasing there. In that seventh, Andrew Triggs, the former Oakland A, pitched for the first time in a game since thoracic-outlet surgery in May 2018. He walked the only three batters he faced.
Before you knew it, Tyler Anderson had relieved Triggs, and after a sacrifice fly that seemed inevitable, Joey Gallo followed with a three-run homer that also seemed inevitable.
Still, the Giants have a 4-4 record, after going 0-2 in this short season's opening series at Dodger Stadium.
There’s persistence in this young Giants club, apparent when players such as Chadwick Tromp — sir, your retinue is waiting at the carriage house — Donovan Solano and Wilmer Flores get big hits.
Small pleasures. Whoever was behind the idea of retaining Pence and Pablo Sandoval deserved credit for tradition, history and a couple of familiar faces for the fan base. Besides, those guys were wise enough to help the offense.
Or so we presumed. It’s been painful watching them swing, and when they haven't literally missed they've just tapped a grounder or popped up. You exhaled when in the bottom of the second Pence tripled (phew), breaking his 0-for-23 streak. Still, right now he’s 1-for-26, and Sandoval is 2-for-21.
As everyone knows, this is the first season as Giants manager for Gabe Kapler, a new-age sort of guy, who is well into metrics and health foods. Team president Farhan Zaidi gets the pieces, and Kapler puts those pieces in the lineup.
In the same division as the Dodgers, who have no weaknesses and plenty of power, the Giants are in a testing mode: Are any of the current players good enough to stay the course and make the Giants a contender? Eight games is a tiny sample size, but so far, so good.
When he was with the Dodgers organization, Zaidi helped identify an unexpected talent in Max Muncy, who if nothing else — and there has been plenty else — hit home runs against the Giants. And that was before the distance to the fences at Oracle was reduced.
Maybe Chadwick Tromp is another Max Muncy. Here was everyone wondering if Joey Bart, a No. 1 draft pick, could be elevated to the Giants, and up comes Tromp. He could be part of a fine Giants future, as could Bart.
For now it’s the present, primarily Samardzija. He’s the vet, the rough guy, the pitcher who former Giants manager Bruce Bochy called “my horse.” Samardzija hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t been what the Giants expect, striking out only two of the 42 batters he’s faced.
“I think my changeup was better,” Samardzija said of Sunday. “I have things to work on.”
A blister prevented him from working on his best pitch, the splitter. No worry. “It’s coming along,” said Samardzija.
The comment might also apply to the entire Giants team.