Dereck Rodriguez has made it known he is sick of the shuttle, tired of starts in front of crowds of 9,000, weary of trying to figure out how to get out major league hitters when facing Triple-A competition.
Perhaps that problem is solved.
The Giants need starters, and Rodriguez sure looked like an effective one in a 7-0 Giants win at Chase Field in Arizona on Thursday, beginning their nine-game road trip with a nice first step.
The Giants moved back to .500 (61-61), gaining a game on the Cubs in the hunt for the second NL wild card, now 3 ½ games back. That’s five out of seven for the Giants, whose greatest weakness didn’t look like it Thursday.
Relying most on a low-90s fastball and 85-mph changeup – though he had all four pitches working – Rodriguez was dominant against the Diamondbacks, allowing three hits and one walk in seven innings while striking out four. It was easily his best start of the season, and it couldn’t have been more timely for the right-hander who wants to stick.
“We have a need and would certainly like him to take the ball and run with it,” Farhan Zaidi said on KNBR before the game.
Behind Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija, the Giants have no sure things in the rotation, and Logan Webb – who’s made one start total at Triple-A Sacramento – is likely on tap to join the rotation Saturday. For one game, Rodriguez ran with it.
Rodriguez didn’t see a baserunner until the fourth, a harmless base hit from Eduardo Escobar. He threw 95 pitches and 61 strikes, always around the plate and in control from the start.
All on a night he didn’t need to be as perfect.
The Giants offense exploded early, with a two-run first and three-run fifth making the last four innings seem like garbage time.
The first four Giants to bat got on base, the last of which being Evan Longoria, who singled in Austin Slater and Donovan Solano. For Longoria, it made it a five-game hitting streak in which he’s 10-for-20 with nine RBIs.
The Giants added a sixth run in the sixth, when even Brandon Belt got in on the fun. He launched a double to right-center that drove in Joey Rickard. Belt entered just 8-for-44 (.182) this month and has been one of the faces of Giants offensive ineptitude.
The Giants padded the lead more in the eighth, when Slater singled in Solano. Slater had a quietly perfect night, getting on base five times, with two walks and a double, while scoring twice. He also made several nice plays in right, slides and cut-offs that made a difference.
But Rodriguez made the biggest difference, and he assuredly will get to make more of a difference in his next rotation turn.