We would have thought about Bruce Bochy anyway, since he is spending the night in a Miami area hospital after feeling ill. But this 14-inning game, this ridiculous 8-7 win that took longer than a drive from San Francisco to Eureka (with the standard terrible traffic through Petaluma), turned our emotions into knots.
Jose Fernandez was throwing gas and Johnny Cueto was allowing homers. The Giants fell behind 5-1, the acoustics at Marlins Park sounded like a game in the Astrodome or Olympic Stadium in the 1980s, and the Giants’ energy level seemed all-too-familiar.
But what does energy mean on a baseball field? This isn’t like football or basketball, where a team can reach higher heights by “swarming” on defense, setting tougher blocks/screens, and pushing the tempo. Baseball allows you none of these opportunities to change the overall energy of a game. You either execute or you don’t, and even when you do, often you get screwed anyway.
So they kept plugging away. When they finally strung some hits together, resulting in a five-run seventh inning against pitchers not named Fernandez, it seemed inevitable that they’d cough up the lead within minutes. And they did! Will Smith gave up two runs in the bottom of the inning, but the Giants made sure Miami’s 7-6 advantage wouldn’t stand when Brandon Crawford had a (gasp) base hit with two outs and a runner in scoring position in the eighth inning.
Crawford had seven hits tonight. SE7EN! It’s been 41 years since a player collected that many in one game! That player was Rennie Stennett of the Pirates, and he pulled off the feat in nine innings. Whatever, Crawford went 7-for-8, which is all anyone will remember from this game despite how many times the Giants made their fans want to hurl remote controls through their televisions.
Crawford also had nearly as many gorgeous defensive plays, and has to be the most valuable player no one west of Lake Tahoe talks about. However, that may change after his 7-hit night that resulted in a win, especially since he drove in the game-winner in the 14th.
Buster Posey looked like he’d rather die than lose THIS GAME. He made the most ridiculous sidearm throw, on a one-hop pitch by Cueto, from an inconceivable angle behind Christian Yelich’s back, that came within an inch or two of nailing Dee Gordon at second (even a fantastic pick and tag from Crawford couldn’t quite get the recently reinstated speedster). Oh well, Posey nailed Gordon at second base in the ninth inning.
Forget the Gold Glove; they might as well put a 2016 trophy on Posey’s mantle right now. (Crawford’s too.) But is Posey the best defensive catcher in franchise history? I only go back so far, and Kirt Manwaring is the only one who seems like he’d come close. Manwaring threw out 51% of potential base stealers in 1992 and 46% in 1993, his Gold Glove season. Posey is at 47% this season. Manwaring allowed 11 passed balls in ’93. Posey has let two go by so far this season.
Posey reached base four times, including once in the 11th on a walk. He raced from first to third on one of Crawford’s five singles, tried a headfirst slide on what appeared to be a watered-down infield, and this happened.
Posey almost lost his arms tonight. Not quite, but that’s how it looked when they stopped and the rest of his body kept sliding (and scraping). He slid over his hands, and with dozens of Twitter lip-readers expressing with striking certainty how they saw Posey say he broke the index finger of his throwing hand, the season was clearly in the balance.
Wotus said Posey is fine.
— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) August 9, 2016
Wotus said Posey jammed a finger. Was checked and ok, at least preliminary
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) August 9, 2016
That’s a relief … as long as Posey doesn’t suffer delayed concussion- or finger-related symptoms. Hey, it’s been that kind of second half.
— Derek Law leads all Giants pitchers in second half WAR according to Fangraphs, and that stat doesn’t seem the least bit surprising.
— Will Smith came in and allowed three hits without recording an out. The rest of the bullpen pitched nine scoreless innings, giving up just three singles, one double, and a walk. Hunter Strickland, Santiago Casilla and George Kontos each pitched two innings, and Strickland’s three-curveball, three-pitch strikeout of Giancarlo Stanton seemed momentous enough that it may have even signaled a new phase in Strickland’s career.
— Crawford came into this game with a batting average of .265. He’s hitting .278 now. That wouldn’t be worth a mention in April or early May, but in early August? Damn.
— The Giants stranded 18 runners, 9 who were in scoring position.
— Roberto Kelly is in a third base coach’s slump, this cannot be denied. Not sending Posey yesterday with Ben Revere fielding and throwing from center was an awful decision, and it looked pretty rough when Crawford was out at the plate by about six feet on a 93 mph heave by Stanton (with catcher J.T. Realmuto blocking the dish, which isn’t supposed to be allowed anymore).
— However, as bad as the Giants’ baserunning has looked in recent weeks, it probably hasn’t been THAT bad. For instance, they’ve been successful stealing bases 70% of the time, just under the MLB average of 71%. And Kelly hasn’t sent his runners into bad situations all that often. The Giants had only been thrown out eight times at the plate coming into tonight’s game, tied with the Mets for third-fewest in the majors. Maybe he hasn’t been quite as aggressive as he should’ve been in some situations (like the Posey/Revere play), but Kelly isn’t one of the main reasons for the Giants’ second half struggles.
— The Giants didn’t commit an error, which is pretty remarkable considering there were 30 outs that came via something other than three strikes to a Marlins batter.
— Now that Andrew Cashner is clean-shaven, I’m having a tough time convincing myself he and Mat Latos aren’t the same person.
— Brandon Belt had one of the best golden sombrero games of all time. His double scored two in the seventh and nearly cleared the wall, and he scored the game-winning run seven innings later.
— I have to end on this, just because a crazy game like this deserves a corny vine.
What Buster Posey and Hunter Pence would look like if they took on all 25 Dodgers in a fight (and still won) https://t.co/eL578CxTHe
— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) August 9, 2016
— Actually, it makes more sense to end with hope that Bochy recovers quickly. The result of this game may have helped on that end, although the frustration of so many stranded runners may have done more harm than good. He probably rolled his eyes when Ron Wotus had Joe Panik bunt, too. Overall, he had to have been pleased considering how the last few weeks have gone, and probably fell asleep tonight muttering, “The boys really fought tonight. That was good to see. The bullpen really stepped up, and what about Craw, huh? Huge game, and that’s what we needed … Zzzzzzzz.”