The pitching from Andy Suárez and former-Giant Zack Wheeler was lights out in Friday’s contest between the Giants and Mets.
But the impressive nature of the pitchers’ duel on display that left the game scoreless through the first six innings in Friday’s showdown by the Bay was overshadowed by the debuts of a pair of rookies who played no small part in the Giants (68-68) 7-0 shutout of the Mets (59-75).
Chris Shaw and Aramis Garcia knocked in the first and last runs of Friday night’s series opener against New York, and they represented what baseball types like to call a ‘shot in the arm’ for a club that just traded away their offensive leader in Andrew McCutchen.
Garcia offered the added bonus of being a familiar battery mate to Suárez (W, 6-9, 4.19 ERA), who pitched through seven innings on 89 pitches and allowed just two hits and no runs, striking out five and putting down 17 straight Mets from the middle of the first through the sixth inning.
The pair have known each other coming up on a decade of their young lives, since they were sophomores in high school. And Garcia has been catching Suárez since they played on the Florida Legends team in high school summer ball. The two were then drafted together and were battery mates in the minors.
“He’s been catching me since high school, so he’s known me forever. I told him, ‘Nothings changed, [it’s] the same game plan.’ I probably shook him off twice that’s about it. I love the way he calls a game.”
Wheeler (L, 9-7, 3.37 ERA) was nearly as good, though, striking out nine Giants and allowing just three hits in his six innings.
So between the two dominant pitching performances, going into the seventh inning it was scoreless and Shaw and Garcia had combined for a Golden Sombrero. But a leadoff double from Brandon Belt followed by a ground out from Austin Slater that moved Belt over, set the stage for Shaw to shine. And the rookie rose to the occasion, launching a deep fly ball to center to score Belt and put the San Francisco’s first run on the board.
Shaw said he works hard to have a short memory at the plate, and he was able to put his previous two at-bats in which he struck out on three pitches each, out of his mind:
“You come up [with] less than two outs, runner on third, your job is to find a way to get him in. It was incredible to be able to [execute the sac fly] at that point in the game, because both pitchers were throwing extremely well, so to be able to put us up 1-0 late… it was incredible.”
The Giants have often struggled to score runners from third with less than two outs this season, and Manager Bruce Bochy was encouraged to see the rookie left fielder succeed:
“It’s about putting it in play, and he struck out the first two times up [but] he had a job to do. They were pitching him tough, but he got the high fast ball and that’s a tough pitch to hit when its 96, 97 [mph].”
With family in the house, Garcia was not to be outdone. The young catcher led off the very next inning with his first big league hit, a solo shot to left field off reliever Robert Gsellman to double the Giants lead over New York.
A brief glance up at the scoreboard as he rounded the bases gave him a view of his father Aramís Sr. jumping up and down, both fists pumping in the air, cheering, and his mother Mariam, Grandparents Carmen and Santiago and fiancee Bri, tearfully hugging:
“My dad reacted just how I thought he would, he’s been doing that since I was in the minor leagues, but to see the rest of my family in tears—it was emotional.”
And for the price of some bats, batting gloves and a few signed balls, Aramís Sr. is the proud owner of the ball that represents his son’s breakout moment.
The Giants would ultimately feast on New York’s bullpen, putting Wheeler’s gem to waste and handing him his first loss since June 22 against the Dodgers. San Francisco cycled all the way through the order in the eighth to bring Garcia up a second time, by which point it was 6-0. He singled to right to add on one more, putting the Giants on top 7-0 with his second big league hit and RBI.
Asked if his first night in the Bigs was everything he dreamed it would be, Garcia said:
“You just dream of getting here and making your family proud.”
Southpaws Derek Holland (7-8, 3.65 ERA) and Steven Matz (5-11, 4.36 ERA) will toe the rubber in game two of the three game series between the Giants and Mets at AT&T Park. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.
Garcia is the first Giant to earn his first two knocks in the same inning in the San Francisco era. … With Friday’s shutout, Suárez has 14 straight scoreless innings.