Nine observations from Giants' surprising four-game split with Dodgers


So, what was less likely on Sunday? That Darin Ruf, a big man with one stolen base in his career, would swipe second to set up a crucial insurance run? Or that Darin Ruf, a man signed to be a bench bat and platoon first baseman, would crash through an open bullpen gate while making a catch in left field?

"I would give -- going into that game -- both a pretty, pretty low probability," Ruf said Sunday night, smiling. 

Both were key moments in another nice night for Ruf, signed out of the KBO over the offseason. He started both games against left-handers this weekend and was having such strong at-bats that Gabe Kapler didn't even go to his trusted platoons. Kapler said he even hopes Ruf becomes more than a matchup play.

"We see him as an asset against left-handed pitching, but he's a super tough at-bat against righties as well," Kapler said. 

Ruf has three hits, a walk, two RBI, a run and that stolen base through two starts, which is one of the early positives for the Giants.

Here are some more highs and lows from a series that ended up being a pretty solid split

--- Kapler named Johnny Cueto his opening day starter a couple weeks ago, but the other three starters in this series were announced the day of the game. So it stood out when Kapler opened his Zoom call after Sunday's win by announcing that Jeff Samardzija will start Tuesday and Cueto will start Wednesday. Thursday is still TBD.

"I think in this particular case it's pretty simple," he said when asked about the differing approach to the Padres series. "We know that we are going to have two traditional starts at the top of the series. We knew we had a traditional start at the top of the Dodgers series, which is why we announced Cueto, and now we know we have two traditional starts at the outset of the San Diego series so that's why we're announcing Samardzija and Cueto."

The staff very clearly didn't feel good about Samardzija facing the Dodgers, but the Padres are considerably more right-handed, and thus a better matchup.

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--- Hunter Pence is hitless on the season and the at-bats haven't been promising, but both Ruf and Mauricio Dubon went out of their way to credit Pence for how positive he kept it after those first two games. 

"Thanks to Hunter, thanks to veteran guys, we kept a level head after Friday's game," Dubon said. 

--- Dubon started 0-for-10 but got on the board with an infield single. His next hit, a clean shot to left, scored a run. Dubon said he wasn't worried about the slow start. 

"I got excited when I heard the reaction in the dugout," he said. "It's a huge relief. I'm a good hitter. It was going to happen, stuff like that is going to happen, 0-for-10s are going to happen."

--- If you're in a fantasy league, Trevor Gott might be an easy way to a few saves over the next 58 games. Tyler Rogers is the versatile weapon in the bullpen and Kapler is going to use him as often as he can, but that might be in the sixth or seventh most nights when the heart of the order might be coming up. 

Gott is your more traditional one-inning guy, and Kapler said he's open to a player grabbing the closer role. It was telling that Tony Watson didn't come in for lefty Max Muncy with a runner on and two outs in the ninth. Gott struck Muncy out. 

--- The defense was much better on Sunday night, but over the course of the series, it was pretty brutal. That's definitely not what Kapler and Kai Correa expected. An early thing to file away and watch: Wilmer Flores' throws have been an issue. Kapler said it was like a hitter trying to do too much at the plate.

"I think he's going to be fine," Kapler said. "He's a veteran player with a track record of success. His throws will improve."

--- Jaylin Davis avoided a double play in the fourth inning Sunday by getting down the line at 29.6 feet per second. Anything at or above 30 is elite. As Kapler says all the time, he really does have all the tools. 

--- Dany Jimenez made his big league debut Thursday, coming in when the season opener blew up on Rogers. He walked Joc Pederson and A.J. Pollock, gave up a run on a fielder's choice, and then walked Muncy to bring another run home. Jimenez at least ended his outing on a high note, striking out Mookie Betts on a curveball.

The Rule 5 pick is a two-pitch guy and the Dodgers didn't seem to have any issues picking him up. Jimenez hit 95 mph with his fastball but averaged 93. He threw a dozen curveballs, most of which dropped out of the zone.

[RELATED: Kapler's bullpen use helps Giants earn split]

Jimenez didn't pitch again in the series, but he certainly is worth watching this week. The Giants have to cut down from 30 to 28 players two weeks into the season, and they need to find out more about the young right-hander. 

--- Finally, a reminder of how weird this season is. With expanded playoffs, if the season ended today, the Giants and Dodger would get the last two spots in the NL. At 2-2, they're tied for seventh and eighth in the league. That's all it takes in 2020!

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