By Morris Phillips
On the day of MLB’s 2023 interleague-heavy schedule release, the Giants ironically found themselves in a strange ballpark. Like a scary movie, things seemed normal at first, then veered wildly toward strange.
Logan Webb cruised into the fifth inning with a no-hitter, and retired 13 of the first 15 batters he faced, with the exception of two walks he issued. Then the downtown Detroit skyline became eerie, and figuratively, the roof caved in.
Jeimer Candelario broke up the no-no with a one out single, and Tucker Barnhart, hitting .208, followed with a double to put two runners in scoring position. Akil Baddoo, hitting ninth with a .190 batting average, drew a walk to load the bases. Then Brandon Crawford misjudged Riley Greene’s hard-hit ground ball up the middle against a shift. Crawford was in position, but watched the ball kick up and over his glove on its way to center field. That gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead, and we segue for some analysis from manager Gabe Kapler.
I think when Logan is ahead in the count he’s getting more swings and misses,” Kapler said. “So there was some contact in that inning. Some of it was unfortunate, some of it was hard. I think if Logan could have that inning back, he’d probably get ahead of the bottom of the lineup.”
Webb started the next two batters–Kody Clemens (Roger Clemens’ son) and Harold Castro–with strikes, but it mattered little. Both produced RBI singles. Down 4-0 with a pair of runners aboard, Webb’s afternoon was finished.
“I can’t really explain it,” Webb said. It just wasn’t very good.”
Thomas Szapucki was Kapler’s choice to end the Tigers’ rally, but Willi Castro sent his fifth pitch into the left field gap, scoring two more runs. Szapucki, acquired from the Mets in the Darin Ruf-J.D. Davis swap, tried to retire Castro with a low-80’s curve ball, but he had seen it three times in the four previous pitches, and he was ready for it.
Down 6-0, the Giants’ attempts to rally didn’t amount to much. Mike Yastrzemski, Joey Bart and Tommy LaStella strung together two out hits in the seventh to get the Giants on the board, but Lamonte Wade Jr. struck out to end that inning. The Giants realized baserunners in the eighth and ninth, but couldn’t bring them around in either frame.
The Giants finished 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position.
Along with Webb, Wade’s afternoon was especially rocky. He finished 0 for 4 with a strikeout, and saw his smash to centerfield go 415 feet only to be caught by Greene, who provided an impressive jump to settle underneath the fly out in front of the 420 foot sign. Wade won’t cherish this August; he’s hitting .175 with just seven hits, none of them singles (two doubles, five home runs). He’s 0 for his last 13 across the most recent five games.
The other piece of adversity for the Giants surrounds Brandon Belt, who was put on the 10-day list with chronic knee issues. Speculation is that this injury could short circuit the remainder of Belt’s career, but the 35-year old said he chooses not to ponder that conclusion at this juncture.
The Giants won’t have a winning record to take to Minneapolis, falling to 61-62, but they will encounter a struggling Twins team without the injured Byron Buxton. The Twins have lost nine of 14 and are losing tonight in Houston at press time, 5-1.
The Giants will have Alex Wood on the mound Friday night in their first visit to Target Field. The Twins have not announced a starter.
More irony: the schedule reveal for next season has the Giants revisiting Detroit and Minnesota and opening the season in the Bronx against the Yankees, as all major league teams will see their interleague schedule go from 20 to 46 games, and see them play one three-game series against all 15 American League clubs with the only home-and-home against the A’s (two games at home, two games in Oakland).