I saw Alex Pavlovic, the guy who mans the San Francisco Giants beat for the San Jose Mercury News and all those other BANG papers, and he mentioned how he was just trying to get back into the groove of things after having the weekend off. So was I. It seems weird, but it’s true — you can get rusty covering baseball, not just writing about it.
Due to travel and family obligations, I wasn’t able to watch any of the last four games on television, let alone in person. Today I was off my game in several ways.
— I got stuck in traffic, so I was late to Bruce Bochy’s pregame interview session (I could blame the occupy protestors, but it had as much to do with following a tour bus that was unable to turn left at an intersection for some unknown reason as anything else … well, that and I should’ve left my apartment earlier).
— When Ryan Theriot was thrown out attempting to steal second in the 7th, I didn’t even notice Brandon Crawford swinging, and tweeted some stupid observation that showed my lack of observation skills. I wrote something like, “Derr, why did Bochy send Theriot there? Did he think Nolasco was going to throw Crawford a ball?” Maybe I should’ve gone back and quoted my nonsensical logic, but I couldn’t bring myself to do so.
— During the postgame interview with Buster Posey, my phone started ringing. It was my dad calling, and I had forgotten to silence my phone. Luckily Posey was done talking.
— Did I ask anyone on the Giants a question on Tuesday? Nope, called strike three with the bat never leaving my right shoulder.
For me, it was the equivalent of a golden sombrero.
Luckily, off nights due to rust don’t matter much for basement dwellers. Players, managers and umpires don’t get the luxury of near-anonymity. Posey, in his first game against the team that knocked him out for the season a little less than a year ago (the team but not the player, since Scott Cousins currently has a .225/.279/.388 going with the New Orleans Zephyrs), had one of his worst games. Defensively, three Marlins stole second base successfully. The first Marlin to do so, Jose Reyes, then reached third on a wild pitch. He’d score soon after, when Ryan Theriot (playing in) was handcuffed on a sharp grounder by Hanley Ramirez.
At the plate things were even worse, as Posey took an 0-for-4. But on a night when the Giants were even worse than usual with runners in scoring position (and that’s saying something), it was the situations Posey came up in that made his night even more painful. Pablo Sandoval was the only Giant who left no runs on the field, and he hit a leadoff double in the 4th. Posey struck out, and neither Brandon Belt (groundout) or the frigid Nate Schierholtz (flyout) could pick up Posey.
Even worse was in the bottom of the 8th, when Posey came up with the bases loaded and one out. The scene was set for redemption, but instead Posey had insult added to infamous injury as he grounded into a 5-6-3 double play that took Matt Cain from a possible win to a rather gross loss. If you’re the morbid type, here’s Posey after the game, being all professional and stuff with the media.
One frustrating play that probably didn’t mean much in the grand scheme came at the end, when Theriot hit a grounder over the first base bag that looked like it was probably fair, at least based on the spirit of the rule. The rule states that the ball only has to go over the bag, not that it has to land in fair territory somewhere beyond first base. Theriot’s would-be 2-out double was called foul, Theriot and Bochy argued the call, then Theriot went back to the box and grounded out meekly to second to end the game, bringing a chorus of boos. Thanks to @GnoccoFritto for reminding me that first base umpire Jerry Meals was also the one who called Julio Lugo safe in the 19th inning to give the Braves a 4-3 win over the Pirates last year, a call that MLB and Meals later acknowledged was blown.
Here’s Theriot on that play (which he called “an obvious double”) and the Giants’ hard-luck night in general. “Nobody’s perfect. It’s part of the game,” Theriot said of the umpires. “These guys are doing the best they can and really do a great job for us.” Now there’s someone hoping to avoid a called third strike anytime soon!
— Nate Schierholtz is 1-for-21 since going 6-for-10 during the doubleheader in New York.
— Melky Cabrera hasn’t hit a home run since Opening Day.
— Gregor Blanco had a nice double in the 8th to start the Giants’ last failed rally — Cabrera could probably use the rest but I wouldn’t be surprised if Blanco replaced Schierholtz in the lineup. Schierholtz is battling right now, and not in a good way.
— Belt hasn’t hit a HR since putting one in the Cove on Sept. 27. With Aubrey Huff here taking batting practice before I got here and looking like he’ll probably return when he’s eligible to do so, Belt needs to start hitting with a little power … now. A more
hackalicious aggressive approach won’t earn him any extra points if all he’s doing is grounding out to first.
— I did see Freddy Sanchez take some hacks, which included several warning track fly balls to left. Probably not even necessary to report what Sanchez does if he still isn’t throwing.
— Giancarlo Stanton didn’t hit any extremely impressive shots during BP that I noticed, but his line-drive homer around the left field foul pole took about 1.4 seconds to reach the alleyway to the players’ parking lot. He only has 2 HR on the year, but that won’t last. The Giants will probably pitch around Stanton the rest of this series.
— Cain’s record after allowing 2 ER in 8 innings: 1-2. Win/loss records aren’t just frivolous, they’re cruel.
— That would’ve been 1 ER surrendered by Cain, but the official scorer reversed the original call, taking away an error from Theriot on Ramirez’s grounder and giving Hanley a single. It was a tough play, but one a Major League second baseman should be able to handle.
— After it looked for a good portion of the month like the Giants were a different team than the group that basically looked like a bunch of squashed snails at the end of last season, tonight sure had that late-2011 feel to it. The game started with Jeremy Affeldt explaining away another DL stint caused by a household mishap (this time, picking up his kid and spraining his knee in the process — he seemed to have a slight limp in the clubhouse, but nothing too serious). Then it played out with the same uber-aggressive, ugly-results plate appearances with guys on base that we saw all too often during the O-Cab/Kepp era. Tomorrow’s a new day, one where I’ll work on getting to the park a little earlier. We’ll see if the Giants’ bats can wake up against Carlos Zambrano.