The San Francisco Giants took on the NL Central division-contending St. Louis Cardinals, which premiered a matchup of an outstanding rookie, in Dereck Rodriguez, and a 14-year veteran, in Adam Wainwright.
According to baseballsavant.mlb.com, both Rodriguez and Wainwright rely quite heavily on the curveball; Rodriguez using it 19 percent of the time and Wainwright 34 percent of the time.
Their curveballs’ have an opposing batting average of .143 and .128, respectively. Their curveballs’ spin rate is above average, at 2576 and 2711, respectively.
To say the least, each starting pitcher showcased an elite curveball in their matchup.
The Giants’ top order combined for a 3-for-14-day at the plate, highlighted by Joe Panik, who was seeing Wainwright’s lethal curve well. He would bat in the team’s first run in the third inning with an RBI single to score Garica. He would go on to hit two more singles and draw a walk in a 3-4 performance.
Blanco and Longoria combined for a 0-10 day, while leaving 10 runners on base.
The key at-bats for the top of the order were in the top of the ninth. Garcia led the inning off with a single, Tomlinson pulled a sacrifice bunt to move the runner into scoring position. In a 4-4 tie, with 1 out in the top of ninth, the table was set for one of Blanco, Panik, or Longoria to cash in the run with a base hit.
Blanco would groundout on a fastball out of the zone for the second out. Joe Panik worked his at-bat into a 3-0 fastball count but was intentionally walked.
The Cardinals fancied their chances with Longoria at the plate, who would swing at the first pitch, a sinker boring in, and fly out to Harrison Bader to end the threat.
The middle order had a 2-for-13 day, rescued by Pence’s 2-5 showing. Crawford and Shaw combined for another 0-for-10 performance, with the only bright spot being Chris Shaw drawing a walk in the eighth inning.
According to fangraphs.com, Shaw’s patience at the plate has dramatically improved from triple-A, where he had a 5.0 percent BB, to the big leagues, where he currently has an 11.4 BB percent.
And the lower order had a 5-for-11 day, including an outstanding 4-4 day from the rookie catcher, Aramis Garcia. Garcia was excellent in getting leadoff hits, hitting a double in the third inning, which led to the Giants’ first run in the game and a leadoff rally inspiring single in the ninth. He would also knock in two runs with a single in the seventh inning to snatch the lead from the Cardinals and make it 3-2.
On the season, Garcia is now 14-for-38 with three home runs. He is definitely making a great case to be the backup catcher for this club in 2019 in case Hundley decided to test the free agent market.
In addition to three key at-bats in the ninth inning for the top order, a Cardinals error in the 10th inning also set up the table for a go-ahead run. With one out, Pence rocketed a ball right up the middle, where Munoz, the second baseman, was positioned. Fortunately, Carlos Martinez reached back with his glove to snag the ball, but ended up being a mere deflection, causing the ball to divert and trickle to the third baseman. Following Pence’s infield single, Hernandez hit an infield single of his own, on a Matt Carpenter throwing error, which allowed Pence to advance to third.
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Needing a single to bring in the go-ahead run, Hanson would strike out swinging on a changeup in the dirt. Hundley was intentionally walked to bring Austin Slater to the plate. According to Andrew Baggarly, despite Bochy’s boasting about swinging at potential third strikes to avoid called strike three’s, Slater took a called strike three with the bases loaded to send the game into the bottom of the 10th…
Giant’s starting pitching was excellent, as it usually is for a ball club leading the league in ERA since June 1. Dereck Rodriguez fired six innings with the only blemish being a hanging curveball to Yadier Molina, who would proceed to hit it over the left field fence for a game-tying home run.
According to mlb.com, D-Rod continues to lead all qualified rookies with his 2.50 ERA who would make a strong case for rookie of the year if this year’s class didn’t feature sensational teenagers in Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna Jr.
The Giants’ bullpen was lights out until the 10th inning, not allowing any runner to reach base in its first three innings of work. Dyson, Watson, and Black each threw an inning of shutout ball. However, Melancon gave up the bullpen’s sole hit, a walk-off homer to the Cardinals’ rookie Tyler O’Neil.
The home run would come on another hanging curveball. In a game with stellar pitching and the Giants scoring four runs, which has been the magic number this year, a couple of hanging breaking balls was the difference.
The Giants will try to salvage a victory in the series’ final game tomorrow vs the Cardinals.