After a three-game stay in Los Angeles, the Phillies head North to San Francisco to take on old friend Gabe Kapler and the Giants. The Giants were supposed to finish behind the favored Dodgers and Padres in the National League West standings, but have instead surged out to first place.
Of course, getting out to good starts hasn’t been a problem for Kapler-helmed teams in the past. It’s the whole finishing strong thing that’s given them some problems. Will this year’s Giants squad be able to hold onto their first place status for the remainder of the season? Or will they go the way of the 2018 Phillies, the 2019 Phillies, and the 2020 Giants, which all came up short of the postseason.
Record: 43-25 (First place in NL West)
The last time they met
When the Giants visited Philadelphia in late April, they won the first two games - the second of which was lowlighted by Connor Brogdon’s 0.2 inning/six run meltdown. The Phillies came back to win the finale on Andrew Knapp’s walkoff single.
The Giants have gone on a tear since then, going 32-18. They are coming off a four-game sweep over the Diamondbacks which sounds impressive until you learn that the D’Backs have now lost 23 straight road games. Basically all the Giants had to do was show up, and victory was almost guaranteed.
The Diamondbacks have lost 23 straight road games.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 18, 2021
The longest streak in over 100 years. pic.twitter.com/XX2bdGBPhY
Least valuable player
After coming from the Yankees in an April trade, Mike Tauchman has played all three outfield spots for the Giants. However, he hasn’t hit very well at any of them, putting up a .175/.293/.278 slash line for the season. He has at least compensated for that a bit by playing strong defensively, but at some point, a corner outfielder needs to show something with the bat as well. If the Giants were hoping that his hitting prowess would re-awaken with a move to the NL, they’ve been disappointed.
Maybe drive some of those runners in?
The Phillies spent most of the series against the Dodgers stranding the runners they got on base. They managed to win one of those games mostly because they had Zack Wheeler pitching, but considering he is not scheduled to start in this series, it doesn’t seem like counting on him to shut out the opponent will be a viable strategy for these games.
It’s not going to help matters that Jean Segura is out for awhile, and who knows if Didi Gregorius’ elbow is ever going to allow him to return. On the bright side, there’s some optimism surrounding Bryce Harper’s availability, and Rhys Hoskins’ home run on Wednesday might indicate that he’s ready to snap out of his latest horrific slump. (When he slumps, he does not mess around.)
Punchable face analysis
I don’t think anyone’s going to deny that Buster Posey has a punchable face.
The problem is, I’m worried that if someone did punch him, MLB would institute a rule saying that players can’t be punched any more. And then, the umpires would seemingly have no idea how to properly enforce the rule, making arbitrary decisions about when a player could or could not be punched.
It would just turn out to be a huge mess, so I guess Posey escapes this time. He’s still not the best catcher in baseball though.
So we’re doing this again?
It's only mid-June but right now SF Giants manager Gabe Kapler has to be the favorite for NL manager of the years.@SFGiants— Janice Hough (@leftcoastbabe) June 16, 2021
It’s time for us to sit down, and have an honest and open discussion on Gabe Kapler for Manager of the Year— Carter (Posi Vibes Only) (@CScoot6) June 5, 2021
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life (and this may be the only thing), it’s to not heap too much praise upon Gabe Kapler’s managerial skills in June. Let’s have his team not collapse down the stretch before we start engraving any trophies, okay?
I suppose it is possible that he has improved out West. He wouldn’t be the first manager to learn from his mistakes at his first stop (Note to Phillies management: Don’t hire any more first time managers). He also wears glasses now apparently.
A game-winning grand slam earns you a hug from Kapler pic.twitter.com/OP2eaAe05J— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) June 16, 2021
Quick rant about San Francisco
San Francisco has got to be one of the most overrated cities in America. When your biggest tourist attractions are a prison and a bridge, that’s a sign that your city might not have all that much to offer. Yes, they have cable cars, but when it comes down to it, is the experience really that much different than riding on SEPTA?
People rave about the climate because it rarely gets too cold in the winter, conveniently ignoring the fact that the weather kind of sucks in the summer. (Unless, of course, cold and foggy is your thing.) And to enjoy that fog, you have to pay some of the most expensive housing prices in the country!
To sum, I give the city 2/10, would not recommend.
Last series’ answer: In game four of the 2008 NLCS, Shane Victorino drove in Ryan Howard with his two-run home run, and Matt Stairs drove in Carlos Ruiz. EbbyCalvinLaLoosh with the correct answer.
This series’ question: The Phillies’ first game at the Giants’ Oracle Park (Then known as Pac Bell Park) was on May 29, 2000. The Phillies lost 7-2. Who was the losing pitcher?
What to expect
- The Aaron Nola is not an ace crowd will get added ammunition this series. In three past starts in San Francisco, Nola has an 8.78 ERA.
- Hoskins will hit another home run, showing that his slump may indeed be behind him.
- Sam Coonrod will be too fired up to face his old team and have a bad relief appearance.
Closing thought that may or may not be relevant to the series
It’s frowned upon to kick the sea lions in San Francisco. Keep that in mind if you ever have to visit.