Displaying a creative and appropriate use of an opener during a 7-2 victory, San Francisco showed Colorado how strategical ingenuity can be the difference in holding onto the final spot as the National League Wild Card and being an also-ran.
Reliever Caleb Barager retired the side in order to start the game before starting pitcher Logan Webb took over in the second inning before leaving in the seventh.
Not a bad approach for a club trusting two rookies during a pennant race: one with a 4.58 ERA entering the game and one who had thrown more than 5.1 innings only once in 11 games.
It’s been two years since the Tampa Bays employed the use of a reliever to pitch the first inning before turning the ball over to a traditional starting pitcher for the remainder of the game.
It won 90 for the scrappy Rays that season and even proved fruitful for the Milwaukee Brewers that season during the playoffs, including a three-game sweep of the Rockies in the 2018 NL Division Series.
With little to lose during this strange 2020 season that will produce a third playoff appearance in four years, Colorado might be wise to try something different as the current recipe has not been producing tasty results.
Rockies’ starter Ryan Castellani performed admirably given his abilities, but his five walks in as many innings could have been punished worse than his final line.
The offense received one hit in 11 attempts with runners in scoring position, stranding seven.
And the bullpen.
Then final line was 3.1 innings pitched and three earned runs, but it was the typical fare.
While Tommy Doyle got hit around for two runs, he did not walk a batter in his debut, entering his name among nearly 20,000 that have played the game at its highest level.
Player of the Game: Raimel Tapia – 2-for-4, R, RBI, SB
Don’t look now, but the man destined to chase .400 this season is merely a few percentage points ahead of the young man stationed in the opposite corner of the outfield.
Tap featured in both of Colorado’s runs, scoring in the third off Trevor Story’s RBI single and driving in Garrett Hampson from first base on a double to left field that gave his club a 2-1 lead in the fifth.
He even swiped third base soon after, his seventh of the season, good for second-most on the club.
Turning Point: Bullpen surrenders three-run homer in first AB
Following a sacrifice fly by Brandon Crawford to tie the score at 2-2 in the fifth, Castellani walked the struggling Evan Longoria who was 1-for-18 before his solo homer the previous inning.
Yency Almonte came on for the final out of the frame, but rookie Mauricio Dubón delivered the dagger with a 393ft home run to left-center to put ahead San Francisco 5-2.
Defensive Gem: Story jump-throw adds highlight to résumé
With a runner on second base and two outs in the fourth, leadoff hitter Austin Slater slapped a ground ball to the backhand side of Story at shortstop, a ball typically producing a base hit 41% of the time.
The 2019 Rawlings Gold Glove Award finalist fielded and made a Jeter-esque jump-throw to get Slater by a step to end the inning.
Honorable Mention: Ryan McMahon’s diving play in foul territory was more function than flash as the Joey Bart pop-up got caught in the swirling air above Oracle Park. Far from Nolan Arenado’s play on the tarp, the play could be the start of something special at third base for McMahon.
- Castellani entered Wednesday night with opponents hitting just .230 (32-for-139). However, this average has been tamped by a lack of opportunity as the 24-year-old has now walked 26 compared to 25 strikeouts, not to mention 18 base on balls over his past four starts (19 innings).
- Over his last five starts dating back to August 27, Webb had gone 0-2 with an 8.86 ERA (21er, 21.1ip) with opponents batting .314 off him during the stretch.