For a while, this looked like a night to write about Pablo Sandoval. Instead, it was a night that epitomized the most frustrating parts about this Giants team.
Sandoval turned around an 0-2 fastball at the letters for a three-run home run in the sixth inning, tying the game at 3-3 and bringing 25-year-old heat merchant Jimmy Nelson back to Earth. Nelson learned a lesson that has doubtlessly made its way onto several scouting reports — if you’re going to throw a high fastball to Sandoval in that situation, make sure it’s above eye level. Helmet level, preferably.
The Giants third baseman made a tough play on Ryan Braun’s chopper down the line to start the bottom of the sixth. At that point it seemed like the Giants might figure out a way to survive the Carlos Gomez onslaught.
But the unthinkable happened. A Giants reliever — Jean Machi, in this case — wasn’t perfect. Gerardo Parra got a toothless splitter and hit it deep, putting the Brewers ahead to stay. Then Parra made a fantastic defensive play of his own, a sliding catch in foul territory with runners on first and second and one out in the top of the eighth.
Funny thing about Parra — the Brewers acquired him on July 31 from Arizona in … (brace yourself) a trade! Yes, trading for position players was indeed possible at the deadline. It’s not at all fair to say the Giants should’ve traded for Parra, because the D-Backs would probably rather let an opposing pitcher hit one of their players and not retaliate than deal a productive player to the Giants.
Five days later, it’s still difficult to keep the trade deadline out of my mind. That’s probably because …
- I haven’t written about baseball since July 31.
- Giants outfield in the eighth inning: Michael Morse (LF), Hunter Pence (CF) and Brandon Belt (RF).
- Joaquin Arias came up as a pinch-hitter in the ninth and struck out.
The final score of this game also rings a bell. Brian Sabean has mentioned the team’s magic number (four), and a tweet from Henry Schulman looks prescient in hindsight.
#sfgiants honchos not fond of blaming ills on no Pagan, but numbers stark. They were 43-26 when he got hurt, 18-25 since. RPG: 4.3 > 3.3.
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) August 6, 2014
Angel Pagan hit leadoff in Fresno tonight, but the Giants once again failed to score four runs in a game without him. Tim Lincecum gave up three runs (all driven in by Gomez, on a two-run homer and an RBI bunt to the left side with Rickie Weeks on third and Sandoval playing back) in six innings. The home run off Machi ended a 23.1-inning scoreless streak for the Giants bullpen, the longest such streak since 2010 (thanks again, Hank).
Giving up four runs in Milwaukee doesn’t sound all that impressive. But it should be good enough, even on a rest night for Buster Posey. The top five spots in San Francisco’s lineup went 6-for-17 with four walks, and the last four spots went 0-for-16 with no walks. Pagan’s return, which seems imminent, will help. But depth is still a problem. That will probably remain the case all season, unless everything turns out almost perfectly for the Giants down the stretch.
— A replay ended this game. With Pence on first, Joe Panik hit a grounder to Weeks. The play was close, Panik was called safe, and the decision on the field was overturned by the New Yorkers. Panik seemed out to me, but those who say it was inconclusive have a point. When it takes so long to review such a pivotal play, and reversing a call means ending a game … that’s a very unsatisfying ending.
My eyes told me Panik was out on that play. They also looked skeptically at Aramis Ramirez, who just happened to be in the rookie’s way as he looked to round third on Brandon Belt’s double (both players were driven in on Sandoval’s second-deck blast, so that one didn’t hurt).
It’s hard not to like Panik’s future — if Dan Uggla somehow stuck around and took all of Panik’s playing time, it would’ve seemed painfully similar to 2011, when Orlando Cabrera played instead of Brandon Crawford.
— The Giants haven’t won a series against a team above .500 since taking three of four in St. Louis (May 29 – June 1).
— Travis Ishikawa didn’t miss a homer by all that much.
— Gregor Blanco is a good defender, but he sure seems to have trouble with fly balls hit over his head. Maybe that’s just the recency bias talking, but it seems like we’ve seen him get turned around before on plays at the wall. Great job by Lincecum to get out of that inning, with a little help from a play by Crawford that was more difficult than it looked. The defense on the left side of the Giants’ infield was outstanding tonight.
— Odd ending to Posey’s at-bat — can’t remember the last time I’ve seen him look completely lost in a two-strike count.
— Reason for my “absence,” at least in terms of Giants coverage: annual family reunion at my dad’s spot near the Trinity River. They recently got wi-fi, but no TV in a blackout zone. They have satellite radio, so I heard the entirety of the Giants-Mets series as told by New York’s announcing crew (not bad, at least compared to most non-Giants local broadcasters), but it’s tough to write a game story based on what you hear on the radio. Although for a while I thought I might have to write something when Jake Peavy and Jacob deGrom had dueling no-hitters through six.