The Giants, the team with an infamous dearth of superstar talent, defeated the finest collection of stars America has to offer in a scrimmage.
It was Mitch Haniger, Joc Pederson, Anthony DeSclafani and David Villar — not Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado and Kyle Schwarber — who showed out in Scottsdale Stadium.
In an exhibition game treated as such, with minor leaguers replacing All-Stars and reserves plucked out of the Giants organization and placed into play, the Giants beat the American national team, 5-1.
Paul Goldschmidt’s opposite field home run represented the only run Team USA scored against San Francisco in their tune-up before World Baseball Classic pool play begins.
Haniger, meanwhile, went 2-for-3 with two runs and a sliding catch in left field. Pederson drove in two runs, DeSclafani tossed three scoreless innings and Villar did damage against terrific Major League relievers.
Here are three takeaways from San Francisco’s victory over the stacked Team USA.
Against some of the most fearsome hitters on the planet, Anthony DeSclafani kept a zero on the scoreboard for three innings.
DeSclafani walked Mookie Betts to lead the game off then hit Mike Trout with a pitch, but stranded them both with improved command. His slider and fastball combination generated whiffs versus a lineup full of All-Stars.
The veteran righty finished three scoreless innings with two walks, one punchout and one hit.
San Francisco is relying on DeSclafani rediscovering his form from two seasons ago, when he posted a 3.17 ERA. An ankle injury, and eventual surgery, limited him to five starts in 2022.
“Looks like the 2021 version of Tony, which is a good thing for us,” manager Gabe Kapler said in a live interview from the dugout.
DeSclafani is one of several starters vying for a regular spot in SF’s rotation. Lefty Sean Manaea relieved him and tossed three innings, forming a piggyback tandem that the Giants may use during the season.
David Villar, out of the woods
Entering Wednesday’s scrimmage in an 0-for-12 slump in Cactus League play, David Villar rose to the level of competition against Team USA.
On the first pitch he saw in the fourth inning, Villar lined a single right up the middle. That base hit broke the ice on his spring.
Then in the seventh inning, Villar went the other way on a fastball, sending it over the right field wall for a solo home run. His opposite field pop that showed in flashes toward the end of last season give him impressive potential.
Villar’s single came off Astros closer Ryan Pressly. The homer came off White Sox reliever Kendall Graveman. The third baseman’s ability to punish two of the finest bullpen arms in the game show why the team has given him the inside track on the starting job.
Statistics from Wednesday’s game don’t count, but Villar making loud contact certainly does.
Joc trial run at first continues
Kapler has said that Joc Pederson’s moonlighting at first base isn’t just a vanity project, and he got the start at first against America.
Perhaps Pederson’s most useful skill, particularly in a game like this, may have been recruiting. The chatty All-Star had the chance to schmooze the likes of Trout, Betts and others when they arrived at first.
On the field, Pederson is still very much a work in progress at the position. He made a nice stretch on a Brandon Crawford throw to just barely nab the speedy Trea Turner and converted a routine grounder for an unassisted putout. But on a double play chance, he fumbled the transfer and had to settle for just one out.
Pederson played five innings, collecting two RBI while going 1-for-3 from the plate. He could get more competitive reps at first for Team Israel, who he’ll be starring for in the WBC.