Brett Pill went 2-for-4 and drove in a run to go up by 2 in the 8th, Ryan Vogelsong pitched 7 innings when it looked early on like he’d have trouble getting through 4, Matt Kemp’s on the disabled list, and people are still complaining about Brandon Belt not getting enough playing time.
I don’t blame Giants fans who wish Belt would start at first base every day — you can count the person writing this post among those folks. The Giants almost seem to be encouraging players to swing at pitches they shouldn’t, and that’s frustrating when the strategy seems to blow up in their faces repeatedly with runners in scoring position.
Still, for all the gloom and doom that’s surrounded this team on and off over their first 35 games, they’re doing okay. Yeah, they’re 5.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, but each of their starters has an ERA under 3.00 besides Tim Lincecum. They also haven’t floundered like the rest of the non-Dodgers squads in their division, even though the Giants’ best hitter was leaning against the dugout rail on Monday night, squeezing one of those hand-strengthening grip things with his injured left paw. They’re also 18-17. Things could be worse.
On a night when the San Francisco Giants face a young pitcher for the first time, like Colorado Rockies rookie Christian Friedrich, expecting the home team to score more than 2 runs is pretty foolish. Yet the Giants, who Friedrich toyed with for the first five innings, scored 3. Only one run against Friedrich (who struck out 10) — Gregor Blanco’s shocking blast into the right-centerfield arcade in the 6th. It was the Giants’ first home run at home since May 1, when Pablo Sandoval knocked one out to right against the Miami Marlins.
(Note: the Giants haven’t hit a home run to left field at AT&T since Juan Uribe did it during Game 1 of the World Series. Look it up.)
As there always is whenever the phrase “Racks on racks on racks” is heard at loud volumes over the clubhouse speakers after a game (a sound which always signifies a win, since after losses it’s quieter in there than a library at night), there were stories aplenty from tonight’s game, a contest that took over three hours in part due to 8 walks from Giants pitchers.
— Brandon Crawford, the talented glove man who keeps making errors, had several chances to fail defensively tonight. Instead, he was nearly perfect in fielding 7 ground balls and catching a liner. I asked Ryan Vogelsong about the support he received from the oft-maligned defense on a night where he struggled early, allowing 5 walks over his first 3 innings.
“Brandon’s had a couple really good games after a tough start,” Vogelsong said.
“I kind of assumed that it was going to be like this. Some rough games defensively, but I’ve seen all these guys play before and they all play great defense. Just needed to kind of click and they definitely did a good job today.”
For that and the rest of Vogelsong’s postgame comments, check out the video:
— With all the radio appearances, TV commercials and that bobblehead day, Sergio Romo is no longer the indie Giant only the cool kids like. It’s evident that Romo’s popularity has spread from the underground scene of Twitter to the expensive seats at AT&T. The cheers when Romo came into the game with runners on second and third was impressive; the standing ovation he received after striking out Michael Cuddyer to end the 8th was much louder.
— Buster Posey either has a gravitational pull that draws his average closer to .300, or the average of .300 has a gravitational pull that only works on guys like Buster Posey, Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn and Rod Carew. If I’m getting a little ahead of myself it could be because I drank a large cup of coffee at 10 pm. I might sprint home tonight from AT&T Park. On second though, I’d rather not get mugged. I’ll call a cab.
— Many wondered why Bruce Bochy didn’t pinch hit for Vogelsong in the 5th, down 1-0 with runners on first and second with 2 outs. Part of that could’ve been due to the lack of right-handed options on the bench, but I think it was more about Vogelsong pitching better as the game wore on and Tim Lincecum’s struggles in 2012. Lincecum can’t be counted on to pitch more than 5 innings these days, the Giants’ bullpen isn’t as deep as it looked to be at the start of the season, and the Giants are on day No. 4 of 20 straight days without a break.
— That being said, I have absolutely no idea why Belt wasn’t used as a defensive replacement for Pill in the 9th with the lead.
— Joaquin Arias looked awful on that ground ball that went through his legs in the 9th, but all was forgotten when he made the defensive play of the night on Chris Nelson’s slow grounder with the bases loaded. Another error for Arias and the Giants could’ve lost that game without even going to extras.
— Blanco was pretty giddy after the game, as one would expect after hitting his first home run as a Giant, his first home run since Aug. 21, 2010 against the Chicago White Sox while Blanco was with the Kansas City Royals. Blanco said this was probably a top three game for him in his big league career. That only makes sense, since he parked a Friedrich fastball into the arcade in right center, a Panda-like shot, then after the game Sandoval gave Blanco the shaving-cream-pie-in-the-face treatment.
After Blanco cleaned up, he spoke with the media:
After the interview session looked to be over, Blanco was asked if anyone said anything funny to him in the dugout. I don’t know if his response counts as anything all that funny, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a happier Giant after a game in my short time doing this: