Giants open season by edging Marlins 6-5 in ten innings

San Francisco Giants Auston Slater connects for an RBI double that scored the game winner in the bottom of the tenth inning against the Miami Marlins on opening day at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Fri Apr 8, 2022 (AP News photo)

Miami. 5. 9. 2

San Francisco. 6. 6. 2

10 innings

Friday April 8, 2022

By Lewis Rubman

SAN FRANCISCO–Compared with the surreal turmoil in the worlds of politics, justice, and health, punctuated by the terrifying reality of the war in Ukraine, the feeling of loss and confusion caused by baseball’s long lock out and its subsequent hectic compressed spring training seems a minor cause of dissatisfaction. The San Francisco Giants just got by the Miami Marlins in extra innings with a 6-5 win at Oracle Park on Friday afternoon.

But springtime and baseball traditionally have been seasons of hope and rebirth, a time when—you know the drill— the sun brings warmth, the rain brings growth. and perennial hope, however unrealistic, blooms in the hearts of fans. In this year of drought and strife, we need that more than ever. I can’t say that I feel it, but maybe that’s just me.

After all, a sell out crowd of 40,853 fans paid to see the Giants win a thriller against the Marlins in this season’s opening game. Baseball is not immune to our circumambient anxieties, but its return, even after the alienation of a three month lockout, can help assuage them.

The lineup Gabe Kapler and his staff would present for the Giants’ season debut was another cause of uncertainty, and that was resolved today but, given Kapler’s talent for mixing and matching, only for today.

Mike Yastrzemski led off, playing right field. He was followed by Brandon Belt at first base; Darin Ruf as designated hitter; Joc Pederson in center field; Brandon Crawford at short; Wilmer Flores at third; Thairo Estrada at second base; Steven Duggar in center; and the catcher Joey Bart. 25 year old right hander Logan Webb, who had a 13-3 won-lost record, burnished by an ERA of 3.03, in ’21, took the mound for the home team.

He had averaged over a strikeout per inning and walked an opponent on an average of once every four frames. His 2021 WHIP was an impressive 1.106. Webb pitched a mere nine innings in this year’s abbreviated spring training, going 0-1 while allowing five earned runs in spite of his impressive 15 strikeouts.

This was only his second appearance against the Marlins. The first time he did battle with them he allowed only three hits and three walks against eight Ks, shutting out the fish over seven innings just about a year ago.

Webb had a worthy mound rival today in Sandy Alcántara, the 26 year old Marlin righty who went 9-15, 3.19 last year for a team that finished at 67-95. He has a five pitch repertoire, using, in descending order, his sinker, slider, change up, and four seam fastball between 28 and 21% of the time, mixing them in a scant 3% or so of his deliveries with an unexpected curve. He went 0-1, 4.76 against San Francisco last year.

Webb disposed of the first three Marlins he faced, left fielder Jorge Soler, first baseman Garrett Cooper, and center fielder Jesús Sánchez, on 13 pitches and three infield outs. He had a more difficult time with Miami’s next four batsmen, DH Jesús Aguilar, right fielder Avisaíl García, shortstop Miguel Rojas and catcher Jacob Stallings.

García reached first on an error by Flores and advanced to third on Rojas’s bloop single to left in the second. But the Giants’ hurler got through the second frame unscathed. Jazz Chilshom, Jr., at second rounded out the visitors’ lineup. He got a scratch single that Webb bobbled near first base.

San Francisco drew first blood in the bottom of the third, when Belt, facing the shift, dropped a two out bunt to third with Bart, who had walked, on first. Wendle couldn’t handle the ball and then overthrew it to first, allowing Bart to score and Belt to advance to second. Ruff drove him in with a sharp single to right, and SF was up, 2-0. Neither run was earned.

Joey Bart extended the San Francisco lead with a one out blast 414 foot blast into the left field bleachers in the home half of the fifth, the last inning of Alcántara’s afternoon. In that lapse, he threw 83 pitches, 44nd of which counted as strikes. Of the three runs he surrendered, only one, Bart’s round tripper, was earned. He struck out three Giants and issued free passes to four.

Lefty Tanner Scott replaced the Miami starter, which brought Austin Slater into the game as a pinch hiter for Pederson, whom he replaced in left field in the top of the seventh.

In that same top of the seventh, Webb gave up a lead off walk to Wendle. That ended his work for the day. Webb. was headed for the day. Dominic Leone replaced him, got Rojas to fly out to right, but siurrendered a circuit clout to Stallings, who knocked the ball over the left field wall, narrowing the gap between the teams to 3-2.

A walk to Chilshom, and Tyler Rogers was on the bump. Webb had gone six innings, allowing one run, earned, on five hits and a walk. He strl;uck out two. 57 of his 86 offerings were strikes.

Delone lasted a third of an inning, throwing eight pitches, half of which were balls, and alllowing a run, earned, on a hit and a walk. Tyler Rogers got the Giants out of the inning by striking out Soler and Cooper, and Jake McGee set the Marlins down in order in the top of the eighth.

Brandon Belted one over the Levi’s Landing sign in right to widen give the Giants a bit of breathing room with the bases empty and one down in the bottom of the eighth. His victim was Miami’s fourth pitcher, Richard Bleier, who soon gave way to Louis Head.

It fell to Camilo Doval to try to hold off the Marlins for the save. It wasn’t easy. Wendle reached first on a pop up that dropped to the grass between the mound and the the infield dirt. Rojas hit a grounder to Crawford, whose flip forced Wendle at second. But Estrada’s relay was wild, and Rojas advanced to second on the error.

He scored Stallings’ single to left center. That set the stage of Chilshom’s dramatic home run over the glove of a leaping Duggar, now playing in left field. Doval got his next two men ground out, pitcher to first, but the damage was done, and now it was Miami’s Anthony Bender who was tasked with preserving his team’s lead.

He failed.

Estrada redeemed himself with a lead off blast over the Toyota sign in front of the the left field bleachers. But that was all home team had in its tank, and we went into the tenth with John Brebbia on the mound for San Francisco and Garrett Cooper on second as Miami’s zombie runner. Jesús Sánchez walked, bringing up clean up hitter Jesús Aguilar, who advanced Cooper to third with a fly to medium deep center field.

García hit a sharp grounder to Flores, who threw to Bart, who chased the runner back towards third before tagging him the for the second out. With runners now on first and second, the Giants called on José Alvarez to pitch. Miami countered with Brian Anderson, pinch hitting for Wendle. Alvarez punched him out.

With Anthony Bass on the bump for the visitors in the bottom of the tenth, the Giants wasted their chance to put the game away when zombie runner Dubón was doubled off second on Belt´s fly to right. But Ruf walked and Slater laced a double into the left field corner that plated Ruf with the winning, unexpected, run.

The win went to Alvarez, a nine year veteran of MLB, Alvarez pitched for the Giants last season. Bass was charged with the loss.

As the Cubans say, all we know for sure about baseball is that it’s round and comes in a square box.

We can, however, reasonably predict that Miami and San Francisco will play each other Saturday afternoon at 1:05. Pablo López is slated to pitch for the Floridians, and Carlos Rodón for the Californians.

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