Giants pour on offense in DeSclafani's gem

Longoria, Posey contribute 3 RBIs each to back righty's shutout

April 27th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants were due for a laugher.

Entering Monday, each of their first 22 games of the season had been decided by four or fewer runs, according to Stats LLC, the Giants’ longest such stretch to open a season since 1997. That streak finally came to an end with a 12-0 thrashing of the last-place Rockies in Monday night’s series opener at Oracle Park.

went 4-for-5 with a two-run home run and three RBIs, and and combined to drive in seven more runs to help the Giants set season highs in hits (12) and runs scored.

It was more than enough support for right-hander , who tossed a three-hit shutout on 100 pitches to lower his ERA to 1.50 on the season.

“It was nice to have a really well-pitched game, a crisp game on defense and then to score a bunch of runs,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “There’s not much to complain about tonight. I usually spend an hour or so after games picking things apart. I mean, what’s there to pick apart? The guys did a great job.”

The Giants improved to 9-2 at Oracle Park and 15-8 overall, their best start to the season since going 18-5 over their first 23 games of the 2003 campaign. The victory also pulled them into a tie with the Dodgers for first place in the National League West.

“We don’t feel like we’ve probably clicked on all cylinders offensively,” Posey said. “Our pitching and defense has been really good. From my experience, playing on some really good teams in the past, that’s No. 1, to pitch well and play defense. It’s a nice start. It’s early, but it’s definitely a nice start.”

Here’s a deeper look at the three Giants who starred in the club’s most complete victory of the year:

1. Buster Posey

Posey continued his early power surge against the Rockies, crushing a 1-1 fastball from reliever Tyler Kinley to straightaway center field in the sixth to collect his fifth home run of the season and his first at Oracle Park since Sept. 24, 2019. Posey’s five homers in April are the most he’s had in a month since May 2017, when he collected six.

“I think Buster’s bat speed and the way his lower half is working right now is what I’m keeping an eye on,” Kapler said. “His bat speed is great, and his hips and his lower half are working well. His body is moving well.”

That’s a good sign for Posey, who is back to looking like himself after posting a career-low .688 OPS in 2019, when he was coming off right hip surgery. The 34-year-old veteran is batting .327 with a 1.050 OPS through his first 15 games of 2021 and is on pace to reach double-digits in home runs for the first time since 2017.

Posey also caught the Giants’ sixth shutout victory of the year, marking the eighth time in his career that he’s caught a shutout while collecting more hits (4) than the opposing team (3), according to Stats LLC. That’s the most by any catcher in the Modern Era.

2. Anthony DeSclafani

After discussing his first shutout since 2016, DeSclafani ended his postgame Zoom session with reporters on Monday by revealing that he had a bird poop on him earlier this week. DeSclafani chose to take it in stride.

“I was like, you know what, it’s got to be good luck,” DeSclafani said. “I think it showed tonight, so I was happy.”

DeSclafani’s good fortune was apparent from the outset, as he needed only 12 pitches to strike out the side in the first inning. It set the tone for the rest of the evening, as the 31-year-old right-hander used his mid-90s fastball and slider to rack up nine strikeouts and assert his dominance over the Rockies’ lineup. He became the first Giants pitcher to throw a shutout on 100 pitches or fewer since Madison Bumgarner (94 pitches) on Aug. 3, 2014, against the Mets.

DeSclafani posted a career-high 7.22 ERA for the Reds in 2020, but he credited the Giants coaching staff for helping him tweak his fastball and slider to turn them back into the effective weapons they were in 2019, when he logged a 3.89 ERA over 31 starts.

“I think a lot of it is giving the Giants credit with the whole pitch design thing,” DeSclafani said. “Kind of getting my fastball back to what it was in 2019, helping me get my slider shape back to what it was in 2019. I think the credit goes to them for recognizing maybe what went wrong last year and helping me fix those things.”

3. Evan Longoria

Longoria’s return to action was brief but productive.

After missing three games with left hamstring tightness, Longoria started at third base and went 2-for-2 with three RBIs over the first two innings to get the Giants’ offense rolling against the Rockies.

Longoria sparked a four-run first inning by delivering an RBI single to left field off Colorado left-hander Austin Gomber and then extended the Giants’ lead to 6-0 with a two-run double in the second. Jason Vosler subsequently entered the game to pinch-run for Longoria, who is now 10-for-18 (.556) with two doubles, four home runs and nine RBIs against lefties this season.

“He came in in a good matchup and was able to take advantage of it, drive the baseball a couple of times for us and not compromise his health, which was the No. 1 goal of the day,” Kapler said. “We just thought it made sense to get him a couple of at-bats against a left-handed pitcher and stay disciplined about getting him out of the game. It didn’t really matter if we were up or not in that game.”

Kapler said Longoria could receive a day off against right-hander Chi Chi González on Tuesday, though the Giants won’t finalize that decision until they check in with him before the game. If Longoria rests, the left-handed-hitting Vosler will be an option to make his first Major League start at third base for the Giants.