Donovan Solano, known to Giants teammates as “Donnie Barrels,” has an innate ability to find the sweet spot of the bat and pepper the diamond with base hits.
So on a day when Solano went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, no one expected him to be the team’s offensive savior. It’s a sign of how well the Giants are pitching and how poorly they’re hitting that Solano was able to earn that label.
In top of the 10th inning at Petco Park, Solano didn’t find the barrel, but he did deliver the game-winning swing anyway as his 294-foot flyball was barely deep enough to bring home Alex Dickerson for a go-ahead sacrifice fly.
After right-hander Tyler Rogers surrendered a game-tying home run to Padres right fielder Wil Myers in the bottom of the eighth, Giants left-handers Jake McGee and Wandy Peralta pitched perfect ninth and 10th innings to cap off a 3-2 win,
With a pitching matchup featuring Kevin Gausman and Blake Snell, the Giants and Padres entered Wednesday’s rubber match at Petco Park expecting runs to come at a premium.
The way the Giants have swung the bat this week, it’s stunning they were able to take two of three from a loaded San Diego Padres squad.
Rogers’ miscue came following a brilliant outing from Gausman, who was “Cain’d” for the second straight start to open the year. Despite pitching well and handing the ball to his bullpen with a lead, Gausman didn’t receive much offensive support and didn’t earn a win for his efforts, which happened to Matt Cain throughout the best seasons of his Giants career.
The Giants thought Gausman had ace-like potential and so far this season, the right-hander has lived up to expectations.
Gausman never recorded more than 19 outs in a start with San Francisco last season, but he got 20 against the Mariners on Opening Night in Seattle before completing a full 7.0 innings (21 outs) on Wednesday against the Padres. Giants manager Gabe Kapler had Gausman bat for himself to lead off the top of the seventh and while he looked lost at the plate as a hitter, he made sure San Diego’s lineup didn’t have a comfortable afternoon either.
The Padres recorded four hits and walked just once against the Giants right-hander, who racked up five strikeouts and set the franchise record for the most strikeouts by a pitcher in his first 12 starts. Gausman’s 86 strikeouts surpassed the 85 right-hander Red Ames had in 12 starts that spanned the 1903-1904 seasons.
Gausman’s velocity was down during spring training and he only touched 96 miles per hour on the radar gun twice against Seattle, but he alleviated any concerns at Petco Park by topping surpassing that threshold on 14 of his 96 pitches on Wednesday and maxing out his four-seamer at 97.7 miles per hour.
Gausman threw 53 fastballs against the Padres, but it was the 24 splitters he mixed in that made him so effective. The splitter has always been the starter’s best offering and he generated nine whiffs on 15 swings against the pitch. Of the four splitters the Padres did put in play, only Luis Campusano’s 106.5 mile per hour groundout in the fifth inning registered as a hard-hit ball.
The Giants should have taken advantage of another solid outing from a starter, but an offense that’s failed to come close to meeting expectations mustered only two runs, which both came on a fluky play at the outfield wall.
After homering over the center field fence against lefty Adrián Morejón on Monday, left fielder Darin Ruf came to the plate in the second inning Wednesday and drilled another pitch toward deep center field. San Diego’s Jorge Mateo had an excellent read on the flyball and jumped in front of the wall in an effort to take away extra bases from Ruf, but the ball bounced out of his glove, onto the top of the fence and beyond the field of play for a two-run home run.
The home run marked the 11 hit by the Giants this season, but only the second with a runner on base. The swing from Ruf was particularly well-timed, too, as the only other hit Snell gave up in Wednesday’s series finale came earlier in the inning when third baseman Evan Longoria yanked a double off the base of the left field wall.
The Giants’ offense didn’t fare well against San Diego’s starters this week, but they were able to grind out long at-bats against Snell, who was pulled after five innings and 87 pitches.
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Author: Kerry Crowley
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