More than a quarter of the way through the 2021 season, the Giants are a season-best 10 games over .500 and hanging onto first-place in an ultra-competitive National League West thanks to a familiar blueprint for success.
With elite starting pitching, excellent defense and timely home runs, Gabe Kapler’s club continues to prove its hot start is no fluke as the Giants picked up a 4-2 victory over the Reds on Tuesday.
The stars from Tuesday’s win were right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, who lowered his ERA to 2.03 with seven strong innings, and left-handed sluggers Alex Dickerson and Brandon Crawford, who each hit home runs off tough Reds right-handers in a game Giants hitters struck out 17 times, their most ever in a nine-inning game.
DeSclafani spent the last five seasons of his career with the Reds and in his return to Cincinnati, he was immediately reminded why pitchers prefer pitching practically anywhere other than Great American Ball Park. After throwing a pair of strikes to open the game, DeSclafani watched Reds leadoff man Jesse Winker hit an 0-2 slider into the right center field bleachers to give the Reds a 1-0 lead.
Winker’s 390-foot homer turned out to be the only real blemish on DeSclafani’s line as he tossed seven innings of one-run ball to lower his ERA to 2.03. DeSclafani’s outing marked the ninth time this season a Giants starter has completed at least seven innings, while no opposing starter has done so against them in 42 games.
“I thought it was a really gutsy performance by (DeSclafani) and I was really proud of him the way he stepped up there late,” Kapler said. “But I thought it was really consistent throughout the whole game.”
Former Giants prospect Luis Castillo picked up eight strikeouts in his first three innings, but the Giants finally got on the board in the fourth as Dickerson launched his fourth home run of the year out to right field. The Giants’ left fielder had his second three-hit game of the season as he added a double and single in his best performance of the season.
“(Dickerson) is a guy that we never lose faith in,” Kapler said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a long stretch of at-bats and he’s not hitting the ball hard, we still have a tremendous amount of faith in him.”
Crawford’s seventh inning home run off his former teammate, Heath Hembree, was only the second hit Hembree gave up this season in 10 appearances. The solo shot extended Crawford’s team lead in homers to 10 as he became the Giants player with 10 home runs in his first 36 games since Barry Bonds achieved the feat with 11 in 2007.
Hours after transferring infielder Tommy La Stella from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day injured list, the Giants lost another second baseman when Wilmer Flores exited Tuesday’s game after tweaking his hamstring while running the bases in the second inning.
Kapler said Flores was feeling better postgame, but will have a scan on his hamstring on Wednesday. Donovan Solano (calf strain), was expected to continue his rehab assignment for Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday, but the Giants made a late decision to bring Solano to Cincinnati with the expectation he’ll be activated on Wednesday.
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Author: Kerry Crowley