Randy Wolf has been a pretty mediocre pitcher since August, and after the Giants went up by 3 on Buster Posey’s blast that for a minute made AT&T Park seem like the team’s worst enemy offensively, Wolf looked like he’d be gone by the 4th inning. Nope. 7 strong, a quality start that’d make Tim Lincecum jealous.
Madison Bumgarner still made Wolf look like the old guy on his way out with his best performance of the year. Brandon Crawford made things unnecessarily difficult on his first error in nine games, and Ryan Braun walked up to the plate. Sergio Romo was ready to go, and facing right-handed power hitters in the 8th inning is kind of his job. Everyone had to be thinking two things when Bumgarner was left in to face Braun.
1. After that error, there was at least a 50% chance Braun would hit a home run to tie the game.
2. If Bumgarner got out of it, we could all celebrate and dance and tell yarns about Bumgarner that weren’t even true, like the time he threw a bale of hay 40 yards … with a perfect spiral.
Sure, it ended horribly: the inevitable game-tying HR, 5 innings more baseball than the Giants thought they’d have to play, Santiago Casilla’s at-bat (just kidding, that was the best thing ever). But while it wasn’t exactly the smartest move based on prior history (Braun was 5-for-17 with a HR against Bumgarner going into that at-bat; 1-for-5 with a walk and no extra-base hits vs. Romo) or the fact that a fresh Romo is better than a tired/frustrated Bumgarner no matter how well Bumgarner’s done over his first 7.2 innings, I kind of understand the move (non-move may be more accurate).
Bumgarner was pitching great and even though it sounds like machismo run amok, Bochy’s trying to build an ace. You always want to win every game, especially in this expanded wild card season where a .500 team like the Giants can play the way they do and still have an excellent shot at the playoffs, but Bochy’s also looking forward to the next time Bumgarner faces Braun in a similar situation late in the game … and strikes him out.
Still, it was the wrong decision. It’s always odd when Bochy seems hesitant to use Romo (his best reliever), and it isn’t hindsight when every single person watching or listening to the game felt a little queasy waiting to see what Braun would do. But the Giants won a game in May and Bumgarner’s going to be around for at least five more years if not several more. It’s also a reminder that Bochy doesn’t keep all young players from learning on the job.
Hector Sanchez with his first home run from the right side, a shot that’ll make everyone want to wedge both of the team’s catchers into the lineup at the same time. While Sanchez has a bright future as a hitter, the Giants are using him perfectly right now. He’s improving defensively little by little each game, he’s worked out a nice little thing with Barry Zito and he’s done some things late in games. With so many catchers in the system (at least relative to other positions), it’s going to be interesting to see which catchers the Giants keep and who they trade. A trade isn’t imminent until Tommy Joseph and/or Andrew Susac are ready to come up to the Majors, but it might get crowded behind the plate over the next few years.
1 hit allowed over 6.1 innings, and that hit was a 14th inning groundball past a diving Emmanuel Burriss. It’s amazing how good the bullpen looks when Jeremy Affeldt’s on his best behavior and Steve Edlefsen and Shane Loux are left out of things.
His fourth 3-hit game in the past 10 days. At least 2 hits in half of the Giants’ games this season. Cabrera’s on pace for 239 hits, which would beat Rich Aurilia’s San Francisco record for hits in a season by 33.
Just as impressive: the guy’s toughness is undeniable. The guy plays as hard as anyone else on the team, makes more “Whoa, nice!” plays than anyone else, and he’s always available. Nobody plays 150+ games year after year without playing hurt, and Cabrera has already done that several times. Even on his “corn” day he came in and pinch hit against St. Louis, then the next day he played a full game. He looked a little gimpy at times, but within a couple games he was his old self, hustling like a maniac, stealing bases and collecting multihit games.
On Monday Cabrera was left limping again after a collision with George Kottaras, and stayed in the game all 14 innings. One day Giants fans will write songs about Melky’s contract year (oh, who am I kidding — Paulie Mac is probably halfway through a song about him to the tune of Barry Manilow’s “Mandy”).
Casilla, what can I say that would beat several GIFs or Jeremy Affeldt’s quote?
These are simply the best (thanks to @gidget):
After the strikeout, Casilla did what he’s paid to do, nailing down the win after the second of 2 scoreless innings. That made Posey happy enough to do this.