SAN FRANCISCO – Some of the Giants’ favorite hitting metrics revolve around their ability to control the strike zone.
His 6–2 win to start his three-match series with the Kansas City Royals was never more evident than in the third innings.
After two dismissals, the Giants loaded the base and scored two runs receiving just one base hit. Royals starter Brady Singer issued four straight free passes that were forced in both runs.
It was a mini-rally in all-six that—you guessed it—kickstarted with a leadoff walk to take a fourth straight win and continue its momentum from the Dodgers’ weekend sweep.
The Giants walked a season-high nine on Monday night, including five from the Royals’ starter, who had shown among the best in command in the majors in the last five starts this season. Only two qualified starters had a lower K/9 than Singer entered Monday night, but only four teams had a higher BB% than the Giants.
“When we are at our best aggressively, we are looking at a lot of pitches,” said manager Gabe Kapler. “I thought we did a good job sticking to our game plan and approach throughout the game.”
In four consecutive at-bats in the third innings, Singer matched his season’s total of free passes (4 in 35⅓ innings).
After catcher Austin Wynes hit a double down the right-field line twice—his fifth hit in three games and his first to hit extra base—Singer all but lost his ability to find the strike zone. He lost Luis Gonzalez after a full count, then threw 12 of his next 13 pitches outside the strike zone, moving Mike Yastrzemsky, then Darin Roof, then Jock Pedersen. The Walk Parade forced home Wynns and Yastrzemski and tied the game at 2.
“I think we had some easy ones tonight,” Kapler said.
The Giants took the lead in sixth when Austin Slater pinch-hitting for Pedersen, took the ball four and scored in center field on Thyro Estrada’s line drive single. An RBI single extended Estrada’s hitting streak to a team-high six games.
Brandon Crawford doubled the lead in seventh with a two-RBI from the right-field line, clearing base driving in Roof and Slater. Roof arrived when he took four balls with one for the Giants’ eighth outing of the night, tying his season high (May 7 v STL), then Slater quickly followed with his ninth free pass.
It was the second time in a row that Roof and Slater walked back-to-back. In third, Crawford ended the rally with a base-loaded fly out to center. But in the seventh, he did a line drive that hugged the foul line, driving in a pair insurance runs.
“Someone like me, I’ve always wanted to be aggressive,” said Crawford, who leads the eight RBI team in June. “You don’t want the last at-bat to be away from him at all, but at the same time you want to make sure you see a strike. … I don’t necessarily want to go up there and take the pitches and assume he’s going to walk with me. I’m not as good a hitter like that.”
Gonzalez made it 6-2 to score himself another run in the eighth, pulling a single into the double, stealing third base and scoring when the catcher went behind the throw bag from MJ Melendez and into left field.
In all four matches of the Giants’ winning streak, he has restricted opponents to two or fewer runs.
On Monday, Alex Wood needed only 80 pitches to make it through six innings, but Kapler decided to turn the game into a bullpen, having scored three more scoreless innings against the Royals in his last 16 innings. An earned run allowed.
Wood allowed the leadoff man to reach each of the first three innings, but the only loss to the Royals came in the third, following a walk from Carlos Santana and Emmanuel Rivera with a double, and both home. Come to score.
After an RBI single from Bobby Witt Jr., which brought Rivera home, Wood faced the last 10 at-bats.
Wood was drafted to pitch in the seventh inning for the first time this season and had previously complained of being picked up too early from the start. But he agreed with the decision to move to Mauricio Lovera (who was added to the roster ahead of Monday’s game in place of Heliot Ramos) after six innings.
“My body is grinding out a bit, so after sitting for so long in the game, I felt like it meant the most to the team,” Wood said. “We have a tough stretch going every five days until the All-Star break. … I’m feeling good overall, just expanding myself with this stretch and after that long innings, I Thought it made the most sense to go to the ‘pen’.
The Giants are currently dealing with a four-man rotation (though with reinforcements coming in the form of Alex Cobb and Anthony Descalafoni) and will only have one more day until the All-Star break after Thursday which is a month away. .