Despite causing some anxiety, the SF Giants took the first game of the series against the Washington Nationals with a 5-3 victory on Friday night. The Nationals have proven to be a tough matchup against the Giants in five contests this season.
SF Giants: Brandon Crawford’s stellar play helps secure 5-3 victory
The story of the night was the defense. Logan Webb was superb in his first start since coming off of the injured list. He completed three scoreless innings with four strikeouts while being on a strict pitch count as he rebuilds arm strength following a shoulder strain.
With this in mind, the SF Giants knew that this was going to be a bullpen game and they were tasked with completing six innings. That is not an easy challenge for any bullpen and the Giants relievers were leaking oil tonight. However, stellar defense preserved the lead and secured the win.
José Álvarez was the first reliever to follow Webb and he immediately pitched himself into a jam, allowing the first two batters to reach base followed by a two-run triple by Tres Barrera to make it a 3-2 ballgame. John Brebbia relieved Álvarez with one out in the inning, but he allowed an RBI double to Gerardo Parra (Forever Giant) to plate Barrera. Nationals starting pitcher Pablo Espino stepped to the plate and laced a single to center field, but a fantastic throw by Steven Duggar prevented Parra from scoring to end the jam.
The Giants found themselves in another jam in the sixth inning after allowing the leadoff runner to reach base. However, Barrera hit a ground ball up the middle that nearly found a hole but Brandon Crawford made a diving play that reminded many of his exceptional play in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series:
The next inning was not any easier as Dominic Leone allowed a walk to Parra and a single by Yadiel Hernandez to start the seventh inning. With a runner on first and third, the following hitter did a sacrifice bunt that moved Hernandez to second base.
The heart of the order was coming up next in Trea Turner and Juan Soto. This was an inning that was set up in the Nationals’ favor. However, Turner grounded into a fielder’s choice that got Parra out as he was attempting to score from third. Soto followed with a groundout to end the inning.
Tyler Rogers was tabbed to hold the lead in the eighth, but like many of his teammates, ran into some trouble. However, he got out of it by getting Parra to hit into a double play. This was not a good night for Parra as he made two outs at the plate while grounding into a double play in a key moment. That was all of the excitement that the Giants could handle, and fortunately, Jake McGee’s ninth inning was less chaotic.
In the batter’s box, the Giants got some timely hitting from Curt Casali and Darin Ruf. Ruf drove in the first run of the game and then added a solo shot later on, whereas Casali launched a two-run homer as one of his three hits on the night. Wilmer Flores joined the party with an insurance run in the seventh inning.
The SF Giants will face off against Jon Lester on Saturday as they look to clinch the series victory against a team that has been tough on them in 2021. The Giants remain two games in front of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West and will, at worst, remain tied for first place by the All-Star break. Those were not words I was expecting to write before this season got underway.