Those win-probability charts are all the rage these days. They’re generally based off far too many numbers, statistics and trends for one human mind to assimilate without the aid of a computer. Still, although they might have no basis in anything resembling “facts,” all baseball fans have their own mental win-probability charts based off what they see. And when Matt Cain allowed 2 runs in the top of the 1st inning this afternoon, anyone who’s observed the team probably put the Giants’ chances of winning at around 1%. Maybe that’s a little high.
But we weren’t prepared for the walk attack. The Giants walked 10 times on Tuesday night, then on Wednesday they received zero free passes. Back to the same old Giants, right? Maybe, just maybe, the Giants are looking to become a more patient team. Bochy crushed the team’s overall plate approach last night, calling it the worst he had seen all season. In Game 2 of their mini-series with St. Louis, they walked 9 times.
Brandon Crawford, who Bruce Bochy moved to the “2-hole” today because “He’s actually been swinging the bat pretty good lately,” swung the bat extremely well with a couple early hits that propelled the Giants to a 3-2 lead, win-probability charts be damned!
Still, as the game progressed through the early innings, Cain didn’t look like himself. It was really weird, like reading four terrible paragraphs at the beginning of an article written by Joe Posnanski. The 1-run lead became a 1-run deficit on Matt Holliday’s homer to left, and Cain wasn’t getting “Cain’d,” his pitches were getting crushed.
So what happened? The Giants kept walking, turned their pregame infield practice into one of their best defensive games in recent memory (0 errors compared to 3 for the Cardinals), and tore the cover off the ball with runners in scoring position. Well, not exactly — they went 3-for-12, but there were productive outs galore!
— Brandon Belt had 2 doubles: one a fortunately placed grounder down the third base line, the other a solid line drive into right center. Belt admitted that he needed to change his approach after struggling a bit in recent days. “For me on a personal level, I knew I had to change something a little bit. I was being a little too aggressive. I was getting myself out a lot,” said Belt, who didn’t sound totally satisfied. “I don’t feel perfect right now, ideally I’d like to be driving the ball just a little bit more.”
— I asked Belt — who’s spent some time in the No. 2 spot in the past week — whether moving up and down in the order contributed to his aggressiveness or lack thereof. “Obviously when you’re up in the order, haven’t played there in the 2-hole too much, there’s stuff I need to learn when I’m up there. I’m doing that, I’m working with Bam on just the mental approach of being in the 2-spot sometimes. For the most part I try to keep the approach the same.”
— There were a few mentions of Hensley “Bam-Bam” Meulens today. Meulens takes a lot of grief for the Giants’ troubles, but according to Bochy and Buster Posey (who went 2-for-4 and brought his average back up over .300, where it belongs) it was Bam-Bam’s help that got Posey back to normal. Henry Schulman asks Posey about the drills they worked on, and why:
— Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla made being a Major League relief pitcher look pretty easy today, while Sergio Romo gave up his first earned run this season — a HR by Yadier Molina. Molina’s HR was a high fly ball to center that kept carrying and carrying, possibly due to the fact that it was so windy this afternoon. AT&T was like Candlestick today.
— Pretty seem pretty sure that Orlando Hudson’s coming to the Giants. Apparently he has no range and is hitting .206 with RISP — sounds like he’d fit right in!
— So much for all the talk about booing Carlos Beltran. Someone sitting close to the press box was wearing a black Giants jersey with Beltran’s name and number, and when the Cardinals outfielder came up as a pinch hitter in the 9th there were no more boos than you’d hear in response to any other visiting player getting announced over the PA.
— Crawford had one of his better games this year, after Bochy gave him the indirect vote of confidence before the game by putting him in the No. 2 spot in the lineup and explaining why. Here’s Crawford in the clubhouse talking about stuff.
— Cain doesn’t say much when there’s a large group of reporters standing around, but when half of them leave and it’s just the beat guys, a couple columnists (and me), he opens up a little more. Here, he dismisses the notion that the Giants are a team full of young guys who are learning, mentioning how this team expects to win series in a way the really young squad back in 2008 perhaps didn’t. There’s been noticeable push-back this year from Bochy and veteran players when asked about things like growing pains; the message is always this: the young players are here for a reason, and that reason isn’t to learn.
— When I can, I try to end these postgame recaps on a lighter note. Today it’s easy, thanks to Vern Glenn. Glenn’s been a part of the local media scene since the 1980s, and his cellphone interrupted the Posey interview with a ringtone that sounded like robotic sound effects from the same era. Posey’s reponse is pretty great…