Anthony DeSclafani

What we learned as DeSclafani struggles in Nats' sweep of Giants

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WASHINGTON D.C. -- On June 16, 2021, Anthony DeSclafani led the Giants past the Arizona Diamondbacks to complete a sweep that moved them to 18 games above .500. Earlier that day, at Nationals Park, the home team swept the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates. 

The Nationals had gone 103 straight series since that day without sweeping an opponent, but this weekend they made pretty quick work of the Giants. 

With a 6-1 loss on Sunday, the Giants became the first team to get swept by the rebuilding Nationals in more than two years, and they lost their fifth straight. Once again, there were issues on both sides of the ball. 

The Giants used an opener in front of DeSclafani, hoping to jumpstart the struggling righty, but the game went off the rails quickly. DeSclafani entered for Scott Alexander with two outs and runners on the corners in the first inning and walked Stone Garrett before allowing a two-run single to Dominic Smith. Those runs were charged to Alexander, but DeSclafani gave up four of his own before turning it over to Jakob Junis. 

The slumping lineup didn't do anything against left-hander MacKenzie Gore, who entered with a 4.59 ERA. The Giants' best chance came in the fourth when Patrick Bailey reached on an infield single and Luis Matos followed with a single that put two in scoring position when center fielder Alex Call airmailed his cutoff man. Gore got out of the jam by striking out Mike Yastrzemski and David Villar and then getting a flyout from Casey Schmitt. 

Not Any Better

The Giants moved Alex Wood behind an opener when he struggled in the first half, and they made the move with DeSclafani after he came off the IL (shoulder fatigue) and allowed four earned over two innings on Tuesday in Cincinnati. The results were the same in DeSclafani's first relief appearance since 2020. 

The veteran was charged with four earned in 4 1/3, allowing eight hits. He struck out a pair and walked two. DeSclafani had good velocity, but he didn't get a single swinging strike on his fastball. 

With the deadline about a week away, the Giants have tremendous uncertainty at the back of their rotation. Wood started on Friday but struggled. Ross Stripling will look to build some momentum when he faces the Tigers on Monday. 

The Fast Lane

On a trip when the Giants faced Elly De La Cruz and CJ Abrams, two of the game's fastest players, Lane Thomas was the one who ended up being a thorn in Bailey's side. 

The Nationals right fielder tied a franchise record by stealing four bases, and he got there in the first four innings. Coming into the game, Bailey was throwing out 39 percent of runners who attempted to steal on him, but he didn't have much of a chance Sunday.

Thomas swiped second on a bang-bang play in the first inning and then took second and third in the third, with the latter coming after he got a huge jump on DeSclafani. In the fourth, he got another running lead and again stole third. 

Thomas tied a franchise mark held by Michael A. Taylor and Trea Turner and became the first player to steal four bases against the Giants since San Diego's Everth Cabrera in 2012. The Giants won't face the Nationals again this season, so Bailey will have to wait at least a year for round two. 

Pinch-Hit Pederson

Averaging just 3.5 runs per game this month, the Giants were scoreless until the seventh, when Joc Pederson hit a high fly ball that landed just inside the left field pole. It was Pederson's 10th homer of the season and his first pinch-hit homer since Sept. 1, 2019, which seems impossible given how many big late-game bombs he's hit for the Giants. 

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The blast was also an unusual one for Pederson, who tends to pull the ball. He has only four other homers in his career that were hit that far to left, and it was just the second time in his Giants career that he homered that far down the left field line. 

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