The strangest play of the first month of the Giants season might have occurred in the fourth inning, when Mauricio Dubon blew through a stop sign and then blew up his third base coach, Ron Wotus, en route to getting thrown out at the plate by 30 feet.
"I think Dubon right now is a little caught in-between on the bases," manager Gabe Kapler said a couple hours later in a postgame video conference.
The same could be said in a way of the whole organization. This is a veteran team that was built to compete, and the Giants are winning more than most expected, but they are also mixing in the next generation, a very, very exciting next generation. Their farm system is the best it has been in a decade, and those players are starting to arrive.
Sometimes they get here much sooner than expected. Sometimes they then provide a reminder that there's a reason it's so unbelievably difficult to stick at the Major League level.
Gregory Santos learned that hard lesson in the 10th inning of a 7-5 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday at Oracle Park when he gave up back-to-back homers in his third big league appearance. Santos is just 21 years old and hasn't previously pitched above Low-A ball, but he throws 99 mph fastballs and 93 mph sliders, and he earned this shot by pitching well in Scottsdale, Ariz. and Sacramento.
The last couple of appearances have been rough, though, and there have been no soft landing spots. For the second straight outing, Santos pitched in the final inning of a game that was tied.
"Yes, it's a difficult situation for a young pitcher. Yes, it's a difficult situation for an inexperienced pitcher," Kapler said. "We have some of those, and along with some lights-out innings like the one [Camilo] Doval had, we're going to have some bumps in the road. I have belief in the long-term prospects for Santos, but this is a tough league, and sometimes you're going to get beat."
Santos got beat on two pitches with elite velocity but poor locations. He threw a 93 mph slider with a runner on that Ryan McMahon yanked 449 feet to make it 6-4. Two pitches later, C.J. Cron hit an elevated 99 mph fastball into the arcade.
Santos was dominant in his big league debut last Thursday but gave up three runs in the ninth inning of a 1-1 game two days later.
Kapler chose Santons on Tuesday over veteran Matt Wisler and second-year pro Caleb Baragar, and he said the key in the decision was that the inning would start with Rockies star Trevor Story, a right-handed batter. Cron, another right-hander, was due up third.
"Story is one of the best hitters in baseball, period, but especially dangerous against lefties and he's in a really good position if you match him up with a lefty there," Kapler said. "Santos has some really, really good stuff as we saw. This is a very difficult league. Good heaters get hit and even good sliders get hit sometimes. In this particular case I think you have to give the credit to McMahon -- he hadn't seen that slider but he was able to jump all over it.
"That was the reason for the decision. It was the stuff [of Santos] versus the first hitter in the lineup (Story). You're trying to make sure that the runner from second base doesn't score so you have a chance to win it and you take an aggressive play on it. That's what we did."