Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers means almost nothing right now, but in hindsight it could be considered as one of the most important and/or telling games of the season. If the Giants falter from here until the end of the regular season and lose their lead in the NL West (currently at 4.5 games), Matt Cain’s wild pitch, Hector Sanchez’s liner caught at third by Luis Cruz and all the rest will equate to a great opportunity wasted. If the Giants hold on or pull away in this divisional race, the bright spots from this loss will almost surely be remembered fondly.
1. Matt Cain
Bright spot: Cain bounced back nicely from a 5-inning, 5 ER outing in Chicago. He threw all of his pitches for strikes and completed at least seven innings for the fifth time in his last six starts. “He looked strong, that was a good way to describe him,” said Buster Posey, as you’ll see here.
Video length: 0:40
Dark cloud: Cain described the wild pitch that allowed Chris Capuano to score as “frustrating” and “really aggravating.” He describes the pitch in the video below.
Video length: 0:31
2. Buster Posey
Bright spot: he’s a Giant, and he’ll be a Giant for a very long time. He went 2-for-3 with a walk a run scored, but even more impressive was the work he did with his arm. It’s tough to be incredibly upset as a Giants fan with a game where Hanley Ramirez gets caught stealing twice and Andre Ethier decides to test Posey anyway. Ain’t havin’ it.
Dark cloud: with the national media attention and the Fox broadcast today (which, based on the reactions from Twitter, sounded pretty bad), if Posey’s performance was capped with a win he may have garnered more than a few extra MVP votes. Oh well, there still plenty of time.
3. Jeremy Affeldt
Bright spot: Affeldt didn’t sound like a guy who has lost any confidence after giving up a triple to Adrian Gonzalez and a double to Hanley Ramirez to allow the Dodgers’ third run. When asked if he was frustrated about not executing the pitch he wanted to when facing Gonzalez, here’s what Affeldt said:
“Frustrating and not executing? Well, I executed. I threw the pitch I wanted to throw. Sometimes you got to remember these guys get paid a lot of money to hit. I threw the pitch where I wanted it and he just hit in the part of the ballpark that you don’t want anybody to hit a ball to, especially in a day game. So I just tip my hat.”
Video length: 1:26 (Affeldt mentions that he did make a mistake on the pitch Ramirez hit)
Dark cloud: Affeldt sounded a bit on the defensive side. “Everybody thinks we’re robots. We’re not. We’re trying to make our best pitches.”
Video length: 0:27
4. Gregor Blanco
Bright spot: Blanco had two hits, including a ball hit deep to left for the second time this week (he also hit a ball the opposite way to the warning track on Tuesday against Arizona, only unlike his 9th inning double the ball he hit on Tuesday was caught). Before the game Bruce Bochy mentioned how Blanco was in the lineup in part because left field is so difficult to play due to the sun. I asked him about that, and he said one specific catch he made on a fly ball hit by Mark Ellis was “one of the hardest fly balls I ever (caught).” With how he played today, Blanco probably solidified his role as the left fielder when Posey isn’t playing first.
Dark cloud: Blanco tested fate a little in the 5th, when after reaching on an infield single due to a questionable call at first he tried to take an extra base on Matt Cain’s bunt. He was safe, but almost in an almost NBA-like makeup call Blanco was called out at third. “That was a tough play for them too. I think that’s just part of the game,” Blanco told me.
I asked Blanco about what it was like to play left field and both of those calls in the following clip.
Video length: 1:13
Other bright spots included Santiago Casilla and Guillermo Mota(!) pitching well, Matt Kemp sitting out both today and tomorrow due to shoulder soreness, and Angel Pagan’s daughter doing a fantastic job announcing the hitters one inning, including, “My daddy, Angel Pagan.”
Other dark clouds form when thinking about Pablo Sandoval’s day at the plate (sure he got a hit, but seeing 4 pitches in 4 plate appearances is downright comical) and tomorrow’s pitching matchup — Barry Zito vs. Clayton Kershaw. Then again, we saw Hunter Pence sacrifice bunt — Bochy didn’t sound like he either ordered that play or was a fan of Pence’s decision to bunt in the postgame media session — before Joaquin Arias was intentionally walked. So maybe Zito soars like the eagle tomorrow. You can’t predict ball and all…