As the San Francisco Giants staggered through a third straight loss to the Miami Marlins, the lack of anything resembling feistiness, exuberance or energy was palpable. You could say that about the whole series, and a lot of that had to do with the fact that they scored less than 2 runs per game, but it wasn’t supposed to be this way. Not with the Giants transitioning to a younger roster. Today, the Giants’ two oldest starting position players were 30-year-old Angel Pagan and 28-year-old Gregor Blanco.
Even so, there was no power, no momentum-swinging rallies, not even much in the way of noticeable athleticism, save for Melky Cabrera’s outfield assist in the 7th. For a veteran-fancying manager like Bruce Bochy, losses like today mean looking at team-wide problems tonight. And if you don’t think he wishes he could trot out a lineup featuring a healthy Freddy Sanchez and Aubrey Huff, you don’t know him very well.
“There’s a lot of baseball left. They’re going to get better at it. When you have young players they’re going to make mistakes,” Bochy said.
When you talk about mistakes, these days you’re talking about Brandon Crawford.* As great as Crawford can look when the degree of difficulty moves to “Wizard” status, that’s how bad he’s looked this year on plays where he has plenty of time to think about the fielding motions he’s about to make.
* Unless you’re talking about mistakes with runners in scoring position, in which case you’re talking about everyone.
2 errors today for Crawford, which gives him 6 on the season. Errors are a misleading statistic given that fielders with more range put themselves in danger of getting dinged more often by official scorers, but Crawford’s errors aren’t because he’s covering more ground than your average shortstop. Instead, he isn’t making routine plays. Regardless of the reason, whether it’s a nagging injury, a case of the yips, or taking his offense onto the field with him, there’s a limit to how much the Giants can take of this.
“It’s a fine line there with these young players. You want them to know you’re behind them, but at the same time you don’t want them to bury themselves if they’re losing confidence,” Bochy said when asked about the leash he’ll be giving Crawford in the future. “He’s a tough kid.”
Crawford seemed fairly tough during the postgame swarm that occurred in front of his locker.
“I wish I had some answer for you for what it is, but if I knew then I wouldn’t be making errors,” Crawford said. “I know I’m a good defender, and it’ll come back.”
— Conor Gillaspie started, and talking to reporters ended a whirlwind day for the young third baseman. “I was actually pretty much asleep last night. Got the call to catch a 7 o’clock plane. It was tough. It was tough today, but I did the best I could,” Gillaspie said.
— With the Giants losing both times they faced the Marlins in the postseason, and their struggles today, it’s hard to believe San Francisco’s all-time record against Florida/Miami is 90-60, and in series against the Marlins the Giants are 31-15-5 (including the playoffs). You’d think that’s because the Giants beat up on the Marlins during their years right after the 1993 expansion, and they did, but since 2007 the Giants are 20-16 against the Fish, even adding in this offense-free sweep.
— One of the more awkward postgame scenes comes when the starting pitcher from that day/night walks from the shower to his locker. The media, all wanting a spot near the interview subject, all start converging on the pitcher’s locker, each waiting for the go-ahead to elbow his or her way in and crowd around him. Today that pitcher was Ryan Vogelsong. Matt Cain’s locker is a couple spaces away from Vogelsong’s, and while Vogelsong put on his clothes Cain said to his teammate: “Don’t you just love having a bunch of guys watch you while you get dressed? Looking at your butthole.”
— Hey, Cain’s got a point. It’s a pretty weird dynamic, one that’s especially annoying after taking the loss in a game where you only allowed 1 ER over 7 stress-ridden innings.
— Anibal Sanchez owns the Giants, to the point where his outing on Thursday (7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO) actually hurt his lifetime ERA and WHIP against San Francisco. Going into Thursday’s game his career ERA and WHIP against the Giants were at 0.75 and 0.63, respectively. After today, those numbers rose to 0.87 and 0.74.
— Blanco had a nice game, going 3-for-3 and scoring both of the Giants’ runs, but he also got thrown out trying to steal second. For all the talk about the Giants’ increased aggressiveness on the basepaths, their success rate on stolen base attempts (13-for-22: 59%) is 4th-worst in MLB.
— It’s nice that Melky got his average above .300 again, but with Sandoval out he’s going to need to hit more than 1 home run a month. Have I written that already? Sorry if I have, this whole series made me feel like Jeff Keppinger was back. Hell, maybe that’d be an improvement at this point.
— Yes, it’s gotten to that point: I’m considering the idea that Keppinger might not have been the worst player ever to don a Giants uniform. At least he can mix in a base hit every now and then with his sluggish demeanor, unlike Ryan Theriot.
— The Giants can’t make Brandon Belt swing for the fences, because then he’ll pull everything and strike out all the time. His average is now .292 and his OBP is .370, but the Giants don’t have the luxury of rolling with a first baseman who slaps the ball around the shallow regions of the outfield. It’s a good sign that Belt’s collecting hits at key times, now it’s time for him to take the next step. With the Giants’ young players not impressing Bochy at the moment, we’ll see if he keeps getting chances.