'Dialed-in' Wood flirts with no-no in Giants' win vs. Rockies originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
With a couple of extra runs to work with, perhaps manager Gabe Kapler would have had the opportunity to play it differently.
The Giants had six outfielders on their roster in Wednesday night's 7-3 win over the Colorado Rockies, and had someone put one in the gap when the bases seemed constantly loaded early on, perhaps Kapler would have pulled Darin Ruf in favor of Austin Slater, Mauricio Dubon or even newcomer Skye Bolt.
The Giants, however, led just 4-0 in the sixth inning, and that's not an advantage this staff takes for granted, even against a bad Rockies lineup. They stuck with Ruf, who has exceeded all expectations defensively but still isn't an elite glove out there, and the first hit of Alex Wood's night came on a ball that was inches from finding Ruf's glove.
When the sixth inning ended a couple of minutes later, Wood did not retreat to the dugout. He waited on the dirt by third base until Ruf, who had gone all out on the play, approached the dugout.
"Good effort," Wood said of his message to Ruf. "He came close to grabbing that ball on a tough play right in front of him. I appreciated his effort."
Wood knew what was at stake at that moment. After the win over the Rockies, he said he started thinking no-hitter all the way back in the second inning.
"I thought I had that kind of stuff tonight," Wood said. "I don't really hang my hat on being able to throw a no-hitter but I feel like my stuff has been really good. After that second inning, I felt like I was really dialed in."
In his third start with the Giants, Wood was perfect into the fifth inning and allowed just a walk and the double off Ruf's glove through six. The Rockies scored two runs in the seventh and chased Wood with three consecutive soft singles, but that didn't do much damage to his line on this night or the season.
Wood is 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA since coming off the IL, with 20 strikeouts and just nine hits allowed in 18 innings. Between Jazz Chisholm's leadoff homer in his last start and the double in the sixth Wednesday, Wood went 12 2/3 innings without allowing a hit.
"I feel really good right now, man," he said. "I was throwing the ball really well in my couple of rehab starts and really all spring. I feel like I'm dialed in pretty good. I had all three pitches working."
Wood's night had just one real blemish. He walked in the sixth and reached second, where he decided to take off for third, shocking everyone in the ballpark. Wood was thrown out and tumbled to the grass as the coaches wondered what had happened.
Kapler said the baserunning by the team in general lately has been "not acceptable" and he planned to address it. He said Wood promised not to do that again.
"I thought I was invisible, I guess," Wood said, smiling. "It was just a stupid play. I shouldn't have tried. We were in total control of the game. That wasn't the smartest decision I've ever made. I thought I'd walk in, honestly. He held for a little longer than he had the two pitches previously before. It wasn't a smart baseball play at that point of the game."
It didn't end up hurting. The Giants kept tacking on to improve to 16-9 on the year, meaning they'll head into Petco Park tied for first in the NL West with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The test ahead is their toughest of the year. They're likely to see Padres starters Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove in San Diego, but right now it's the Giants who have the hottest starting staff in the league. Wood just added to that Wednesday.
"It's hard to say enough about what our pitching staff is doing this month," Wood said. "I think we're just kinda feeding off each other."