The matchup on the Oracle Park rubber on Friday night featured the 2022 Cy Young Award winner and a veteran who’d left his last start with a toe injury sustained from dropping a piano bench on himself.
The guy with nine intact toenails had the edge.
Neither Anthony DeSclafani nor Sandy Alcántara got through the sixth inning, despite both looking dominant at times.
DeSclafani struck out six while allowing two runs in 5.1 innings. Alcántara fanned five, surrendering four runs in 5.2 frames. Both held the opposing offense in the ballpark, but the Giants slashed just slightly more effectively.
The Giants (21-23) continued to prove their ability to pile on runs without knocking the ball out of the park. Rookie Patrick Bailey debuted as a substitute, Casey Schmitt again delivered and Tyler Rogers recorded his second save of the year in a 4-3 win — SF’s fourth straight.
Alcántara carried an uncharacteristic 4.91 ERA into his start. Giants manager Gabe Kapler fielded a pregame question about what’s been different for the ace.
He’s still as dangerous as any pitcher, Kapler said. Still a workhorse with nasty stuff who lives in the zone.
“Equally as challenging as he’s always been,” Kapler said.
Kapler’s assessment was spot-on — at least early in the game. The Giants didn’t muster a single hit off Alcántara until one out in the fourth inning, when Micahel Conforto squibbed a roller off the end of his bat down the third base line.
Then Mitch Haniger followed Conforto’s infield single with his biggest hit so far as a Giant.
Haniger, who entered the game hitting .185, lined a 96.1 mph sinker over the middle to the left-center wall. Haniger’s double left his bat at 108.1 mph. Conforto, sensing the ball was well struck, immediately bolted from first and wheeled around home, beating Miami’s relay with a head-first slide.
“Sandy’s about as tough a customer as there is in the league,” Kapler said postgame. “He was pretty tough tonight, too. We needed to kind of send the message that we could hang in there. The only way to do that is to get one or two big hits. That first one from Hanny set the tone for our offense.”
That rally gave the Giants a 1-0 lead as DeSclafani kept Miami scoreless through five innings. He struck out six and walked one, with the only hits coming off two Luis Arraez singles and an infield single.
DeSclafani was listed as day-to-day with his toe injury, but his Friday start was never in serious jeopardy. The pain subsided when his nail fell off completely and he put it in his locker as a memento.
But then in the sixth, DeSclafani walked Jorge Soler to lead off the inning. Arraez, last year’s NL batting champ, lined a double for his third hit. They both scored on a Bryan De La Cruz double that put Miami up 2-1 and ended DeSclafani’s night at 84 pitches.
Just as the Marlins chased DeSclafani out of the game in the sixth, the Giants knocked around Alcántara enough in the bottom half to send him packing.
LaMonte Wade Jr., one of the most disciplined hitters in baseball, took a leadoff walk. He and Thairo Estrada advanced into scoring position on a throwing error from Alcántara. Both scored on consecutive sacrifice flies to give San Francisco a 3-2 lead.
But SF wasn’t done. With two outs, Haniger singled for his second hit, Mike Yastrzemski walked and Schmitt recorded his 16th hit of the year.
Schmitt, who has been extremely aggressive early in counts, took two wild hacks to go down 0-2 against Alcántara. But he took a timeout to regroup and turned on a 98 mph fastball for an RBI single. His line drive added a run to SF’s lead and ended Alcántara’s night.
Schmitt has 16 hits, including two home runs, in his first 10 games. He’s amassed more WAR than Carlos Correa and is hitting .400. The only time the Oracle Park crowd got louder than Schmitt’s RBI single was when the Marlins’ catcher and manager got ejected in the eighth inning for arguing a miscommunicated timeout and pitch timer call.
In the two games prior to Friday, the Giants scored 11 runs on 21 hits — 20 singles and a double. For much of the season, the team has relied on home runs for the bulk of their offense. No club has scored more runs via the long ball than San Francisco.
But situational hitting has arrived during this four-game winning streak. Against the Marlins, SF scored four runs, generating offense from a pair of sacrifice flies, four singles, a double and five walks.
Bailey, the rookie, replaced Blake Sabol behind the dish to catch the last three innings. He saw his first big-league home run, when Bryan De La Cruz took Taylor Rogers deep, but also caught his first save from Taylor’s twin.
“Confident,” Kapler said of his impressions of Bailey. “He looked relaxed, like he belonged.”
Bailey, the 2020 first round pick, received Tyler Rogers’ UFO slider that struck out Garrett Hampson for the final out. He walked back to the mound with Rogers, standing on the mound for the handshake line.
The Giants are hoping Bailey, who needed just 28 minor league games this year, can produce immediately just like Schmitt. They’re hoping he’s at the end of many more handshake lines to come.