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Giants 3, Tigers 1: A classic 2022 performance from the home team

Drew Hutchison and the bullpen were effective again, but against Carlos Rodón, the offense was pretty helpless.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Detroit Tigers Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

As is their custom, the Tigers pitched plenty well enough to win, but the offense did very little, losing to Carlos Rodón and the Giants 3-1 in the first of two games.

Early on, Drew Hutchison looked prepared to put on another magic show escaping from all sorts of potential trouble, and it largely played out that way. After Tommy La Stella led off the game with a single, Lamonte Ward Jr. drew a walk, and as usual, Hutch was in a tight spot. And as we’ve seen often from him over the past month, he looked primed to escape when he got Wilmer Flores to ground into a double play. La Stella advanced to third, but just like that the threat of a big inning was snuffed. Still the Giants scored anyway when Joc Pederson ripped a single to right field. Hutchison froze Evan Longoria with a fastball to strike him out and finish the inning.

Riley Greene led off the bottom of the first with a single as well, but the Tigers couldn’t do anything with it.

Hutchison cruised through the next two innings with a little help from his defense, particularly a Jeimer Candelario snag in the third off the bat of Austin Wynns. Riley Greene made a really nice grab on a Ward Jr. fly ball as well. A six pitch third inning helped clean up the right-hander’s pitch count as well after a bit of a long first inning.

As you’d expect, the Tigers’ offense wasn’t getting anywhere against Carlos Rodón, so keeping this one close until Rodón was out of the game was job number one. They weren’t very successful though, as the Giants’ ace needed just 30 pitches through three innings of one-hit ball.

Hutchison allowed a couple more hard hit balls in the fourth, and two-out singles from Longoria and Pederson produced a little threat, but he was able to strike out Wilmer Flores whiffing over a slider to end the inning unscathed.

The fifth began with a walk to Mike Yastrzemski, but he was erased when Willi Castro made a nice catch running into foul territory at the wall in right field. Yastrzemski tried to tag up but Castro turned and gunned him down with a one hop strike to Javier Báez at second. Hutchison dropped a sinker into the top of the zone to strike out La Stella to end the top half of the inning and complete his outing with five innings of one run ball.

Again a pretty solid outing where Hutchison never gave up the big blast, and his defense came through again and again with timely plays to stifle the Giants. That’s four starts in a row with three runs allowed or less. We’ll take it.

Eric Haase opened the bottom of the fifth with a screaming drive right to Yastrzemski in center field, which was notable as a rare hard hit ball against Rodón. Miguel Cabrera struck out, but Harold Castro stroked a little single for just the second hit of the night for the home team. It didn’t lead anywhere as Willi Castro struck out to end the inning.

Daniel Norris took over for Hutchison in the sixth. The lefty picked up a pair of quick outs, but things went south quickly. Joc Pederson drew a walk, and after losing the left-handed hitter, Norris had to deal with Longoria and the veteran third baseman took him deep to left center field on a hanging breaking ball for a two-run shot. 3-0 Giants.

The futility continued against Rodón in the bottom half, as he racked up his eighth and ninth strikeouts of the game and finished the inning still at just 75 pitches. The Tigers did muster a two-out threat when Riley Greene pulled a ground ball to Flores at first and Rodón was a little late covering the bag and dropped the toss from Flores. A passed ball through Austin Wynn’s wickets moved Greene to second, but all this just infuriated the Giants ace and he dialed up the velocity another notch before Reyes whiffed on a belt high slider to waste the opportunity.

Jose Cisnero handled the seventh without incident, and Báez finally got something going early in an inning with a bloop single to center to lead off the bottom half. Javy then stole second for his eighth on the year. That set up Haase, who singled to right, and Báez raced home with the Tigers’ first run. Unfortunately, Miguel Cabrera quickly grounded into a double play, and Harold Castro chased a couple fastballs up to strike out to end the frame.

Joe Jiménez came on for the eighth and was a bit wild by his high standards this season. He issued a leadoff walk to Austin Slater on a close checked swing call in a 3-2 count. Still they couldn’t do much against the big right-hander, and he was able to rack up a pair of punchouts and shut down the Giants.

Mercifully, Carlos Rodón’s day was over after seven. The left-hander was nearly untouchable, racking up 23 whiffs and 10 strikeouts. I may have missed one somewhere, but it seemed there were only two balls I’d call hard hit against him.

The Giants turned to right-hander John Brebbia in the bottom of the eighth, and the Tigers fared no better. AJ Hinch inserted Kerry Carpenter to hit for Zack Short, who played second base for the injured Jonathan Schoop, with two outs, but Carpenter struck out.

In the top of the ninth, Willi Castro moved to second base, Victor Reyes moved from left field to right field, and Carpenter took over in left. Andrew Chafin had no trouble on this night, racking up a pair of strikeouts along the way.

That left it to Giants’ closer Camilo Doval to shut things down in the bottom of the ninth. With a long arm action, triple digit velocity, and plenty of wildness, the right-hander often looks like a mirror image of Gregory Soto. He was certainly wild on this night.

Riley Greene grounded out to start things on a bad note, but Victor Reyes came through with a line drive double the opposite way up the left center field gap. Bally Sports spotted a praying mantis on the field and got a nice close-up of the critter before Wynns whiffed on another pitch for his second passed ball of the night. Reyes moved to third, and the efforts of the mantis payed further dividends when Doval slipped fielding a little squibbler off the bat of Báez. Reyes was going on contact but managed to get back to third, and Doval had no play. The Giants probably wanted no part of Eric Haase in that situation and Doval’s wildness led him to walk the Tigers’ catcher on four straight pitches anyway, loading the bases.

Things seemed set up for a big moment, but even the mantis can only do so much for the Tigers or a generally busted up Miguel Cabrera. Miggy fouled back the one hanger he saw, and Doval managed to find the outer edge with a slider to strike him out in a 3-2 count. Harold Castro grounded out, and the Comerica Park faithful who’d finally had something to get excited about went home disappointed.

This game really felt like a perfect microcosm of the season, right down to the budding glimmer of hope being dashed in the end. But hey, they’re still pitching well, so we’ve got that going for us. You know the rest.

It’s a 1:10 p.m. EDT start on Wednesday as Matt Manning will take on Logan Webb.