Giants

Dereck Rodriguez tops Arrieta, gets first MLB win in first start

Dereck Rodriguez tops Arrieta, gets first MLB win in first start

SAN FRANCISCO — There was no way for Dereck Rodriguez to plan for his MLB debut. He was rushed onto the field in Denver when Jeff Samardzija got shut down by the training staff, giving him minimal time to feel nerves. 

You would think, then, that Rodriguez would have felt some butterflies in the days leading up to his first MLB start. The Giants announced early that Rodriguez would take the ball Sunday, but he didn’t notice much of a difference as he took the field in front of 40,000 on a warm day at AT&T Park. He said it wasn’t much different than Triple-A. That sounds hard to believe, until you listen to his teammates and coaches rave about his confidence. 

“Only a couple thousand more people,” Rodriguez said matter-of-factly. “Besides that, I felt the same out there.”

He pitched the same way, too. The aggression that got the former outfielder to the big leagues after just two months with the organization got him through six strong against a good Phillies team. Rodriguez allowed one run and watched from the dugout rail as the lineup thrashed Jake Arrieta in the sixth. The bullpen cruised home, and a 6-1 win clinched a series sweep. 

Rodriguez, 25, allowed five hits, walked two and struck out six. Time and time again he turned to a fastball that’s firmer than most in the organization. Rodriguez got five swings-and-misses on the pitch and used it for four of his six strikeouts. He topped out at 94.8 mph, which isn’t eye-opening in today’s game, but still qualifies him for rare air among Giants pitchers. Only Samardzija and Tyler Beede have thrown harder among Giants starters this year, and neither is currently in the rotation. 

“His fastball has a ton of life to it and seems to come out pretty easily,” Buster Posey said. “He’s doing a nice job of moving it up and down and to both sides of the plate.”

Rodriguez made relatively quick work of the Phillies for most of the day. The one major hiccup was a homer by Arrieta, who took Madison Bumgarner deep in Game 3 of the NLDS two years ago. If Rodriguez was shaken at all, Bumgarner was there to help.

“Bum told me he gave one up to him,” Rodriguez said. “That made me feel better.”

Just as they did in that playoff game, the Giants wiped out the deficit. Gorkys Hernandez had a grinder’s at-bat and singled with one out in the sixth. Pinch-hitter Alen Hanson reached on an infield single to short. Joe Panik nearly pulled a double down the line, then straightened out and pulled a single to right to tie the game. Buster Posey’s single up the middle gave the Giants the lead. Andrew McCutchen’s first homer in 131 at-bats broke the game wide open. 

Once faced with a tough-luck loss, Rodriguez instead began preparing to celebrate. He was wheeled into a clubhouse bathroom later in the afternoon and showered with beer. 

“A lot of other stuff, too,” he said, smiling. 

The win capped a weekend to build off for the Giants, who are right back in the thick of the National League West. They gave up one run over three games and got standout performances from three young starters: Rodriguez, Chris Stratton and rookie Andrew Suarez. The sweep avenged the Phillies’ sweep when the teams met in Pennsylvania last month. 

“They had their way with us in Philly,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We got beat up pretty good. (The guys) were determined to punch back and they did it.”

Giants put Dereck Rodriguez on DL with injury from brawl with Dodgers

Giants put Dereck Rodriguez on DL with injury from brawl with Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tuesday's brief scuffle at Dodger Stadium ended up being much more costly for the Giants than for the Dodgers.

A few hours after Yasiel Puig was suspended two games by Major League Baseball, the Giants announced that rookie right-hander Dereck Rodriguez was placed on the disabled list after being hurt during the altercation between the Dodgers outfielder and San Francisco catcher Nick Hundley. 

Rodriguez went on the 10-day DL on Thursday with a Grade 1 hamstring strain. He was one of the first players on the scene when Puig and Hundley exchanged shoves Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. Rodriguez came from the dugout and apparently got hurt somewhere during the exchange. 

The blow is a big one to a Giants team that's on the fringes of the National League playoff race. Rodriguez, a rookie, has been the club's best pitcher, posting a 6-1 record and 2.25 ERA to this point. He has allowed just six runs in five second-half starts, throwing his name into the NL Rookie of the Year race. 

The Giants skipped their fifth starter so Rodriguez and Madison Bumgarner could kick off the three-game series in Cincinnati. Instead, Casey Kelly will start Friday's opener against the Reds. The Giants will announce a corresponding roster move Friday.

The latest round of Name That Unwritten Rule in baseball

The latest round of Name That Unwritten Rule in baseball

Yasiel Puig got two games for punching Nick Hundley in the mask. Jose Ureña got six games for throwing at Ronald Acuña’. Nobody is happy on any side.
 
And that, ladies and jellyspoons, is baseball justice, now and forever.
 
But it is also sports justice, which is typically very flexible when it comes to precedent anyway, save for drug suspensions, which are covered under the collective bargaining agreement.
 
Puig got his two as part of his ongoing feud with the San Francisco Giants, and theirs with him. Hundley chastised Puig for being unhappy with a pitch he missed, and Puig, remembering all the cheery times he has had against the Giants, responded in more than kind. As a result of the brawl he helped inflame, he will have to go to the trouble of losing his appeal of a two-game suspension while Hundley was merely fined for acting like everyone’s dean of students. And you know the dean of students at your school was so beloved.
 
By now, though, it is clear that Puig and the Giants have issues, and there seems no impetus on any side to make them go away. In other words, the punishments may or may not have fit the crime, but it is clearly not meant as a deterrent. It certainly won’t be one for Hundley or the Giants, who have made Puig a long-running personal cause.

Me, I'd give Hundley two games along with Puig, and fine both teams $10 million and tell them, "Make this nonsense stop." Then again, commissioners don't get to take big money to teams without paying a price down the road, which is why I would have to be named imperial emperor to have that kind of pull.

In other words, this will happen again.
 
As for Ureña, his six games (or one start) will be regarded as a gift from MLB for what looked to all the world like a purposeful beanball attempt. The length of the suspension is probably mitigated further by the fact that Acuña played Thursday against Colorado.
 
But the more interesting notion is that MLB decided not to guess on Ureña’s intent, because intent can’t be proven, and if baseball wanted to go down that particular rabbit hole, it would be in court in no time having to defend breaking precedent so violently for something that must be negotiated as part of the collective bargaining agreement with the players.
 
That is not yet a fight the owners seem to want to have – not when there are so many others to employ between now and the time negotiations begin before the 2021 deadline.
 
In addition, baseball does not throw large suspensions around as a general rule. If you take out the drug-related suspensions (either recreational or performance-based), the longest suspensions on record for a player are Roberto Osuna’s 75 games for domestic violence (which he has denied while accepting the suspension for the thing he said he didn’t do, if that makes sense to you), and Lenny Randle’s 30 days for punching out Texas manager Pat Corrales in 1977, when Randle was a Ranger himself.
 
But the Ureña/Acuña case is about player safety (as opposed to the usually tedious old school/new school arguments that remind us that we make generations hate each other as part of the gross national product), which one would think the union would be interested in enhancing and defending.
 
Player safety should matter, of course, but the distrust between the sides runs so deep that any introduction of language that allows the MLB mall cops to judge someone’s intent as binding evidence would become a war in its own right. The sides would rather play negotiation chicken and hope no players get maimed or worse playing “Name That Unwritten Rule.”
 
Which is why Ureña only misses one start, even though it seems about three starts too light. As for Puig and the Giants, well, September 28 in San Francisco, no later than the fifth inning. If baseball can’t get into the world of intent, it has no chance with a hatred that never seems to die.