SAN FRANCISCO — Since signing with the Giants, most of Alex Cobb’s first season here has been derailed by poor defense or health issues. His expected ERA: sterling. The actual number: not so much.
Opening a three-game weekend series with the Chicago White Sox on Friday, Cobb finally got the results to match. He went five shutout innings in possibly his best start in orange and black, but the Giants were shut out for the fourth time this season and lost anyway.
On a home stand that featured two last-place teams and one in town now that has underachieved, the Giants have lost four of the first six games. On Friday, it was no fault of Cobb’s.
Before first pitch Friday, manager Gabe Kapler regaled the repertoire Cobb has flashed, even if he doesn’t own the numbers to back it up. Sitting at 95 mph, his fastball continues to have the most heat of his career, and he used it twice Friday to tail back on the plate for strikeouts looking of Tim Anderson and Leury Garcia.
“His stuff has been electric all year long,” Kapler said. “Cobber’s stuff has been as good as anybody we’ve had on our staff … some of the best stuff he’s had in his career.”
But while his defense had let him down in previous starts, it was the offense who failed to back him up Friday.
The Giants loaded the bases in the first inning, but Tommy La Stella struck out to end the threat, beginning a string of 12 straight San Francisco hitters sent down by White Sox starter Lance Lynn. Donovan Walton’s two-out double in the sixth broke the streak and served as the only base runner the Giants advanced into scoring position after the first.
The Giants’ defensive misfortune waited this time until Cobb had left the game.
Entering into a 0-0 tie in the top of the ninth, Camilo Doval muffed the toss from Brandon Belt while covering first base, allowing Gavin Sheets to reach base. Pinch-running for Sheets, Adam Haseley advanced to second when a bad hop ate up Jason Vosler at third. And he scored the only run of the game on a two-out, two-strike single to right field from Leury Garcia. Mike Yastrzemski may have had a chance to nab him at the plate but fumbled the transfer.
Lynn and Cobb traded zeros, but both starters were out of the game by the end of the sixth inning. While Lynn’s night was clearly done with 104 pitches through six innings, Kapler went to his bullpen after Cobb had thrown only 67 pitches to complete five shutout frames.
John Brebbia, Tyler Rogers and Dominic Leone delivered three relatively stress-free innings, until Doval took over in the ninth.
Cobb, who was the recipient of such poor play behind him that his expected ERA (2.34) is among the top 5% of starters in the majors while his actual ERA lowered only to 4.71, was the beneficiary of some stellar defense Friday night.
Yastrzemski added another highlight to his Gold Glove reel by tracking down Chicago’s best-hit ball off Cobb. Yastrzemski crashed into the wall, 386 feet from home plate and at least a couple dozen yards from his original position in center field, for the first out of the fifth inning on a long fly ball from Yoan Moncada, which had an 82% hit probability.
Contributed by local news sources