First, the San Francisco Giants are accumulating walks at an unbelievable clip this week. They’d never admit publicly that they’re encouraging patience at the plate. They’d never admit publicly that they read all the criticism, especially recently, of their hitters’ propensity to swing at crappy pitches. But something happened this week. 10 walks on Tuesday. Zero walks on Wednesday, followed by Bruce Bochy’s harshest words of the season for an offense that was “too anxious, too aggressive, really chasing pitches,” then 9 walks each on Thursday afternoon and Friday evening against the Oakland A’s.
Who cares about that walk-free game on Wednesday — 28 walks for the Giants in a 4-game span? What in the name of Barry Bonds is going on around here?
A lot of weird stuff went on tonight. Forget the number of walks, even though I just spent the first 100 words or so of this post prattling on about that very subject. Who walked was even nuttier. And that’s what leads off our night of the absurd. If the rest of this version of the Bay Bridge Series is like this, both of these teams are going to need a week off.
— Barry Zito walked twice, once with the bases loaded.
— Travis Blackley pitched a shutout inning of relief for the A’s nine days after pitching for the Giants in Los Angeles.
— Josh Donaldson had 2 RBIs and this nightmarish slash line coming into tonight: .082/.080/.102. After going 3-for-4 with a HR, 2 doubles and 5 RBIs, he’s … still probably not a very good Major League hitter. But at least he’ll always have tonight.
— A skinny kid (shows how old I am now, he was probably in his early 20s) in a white snapback A’s hat sitting below the press box held up a poorly-made sign (we’re talking a white poster with bubble letters written in sharpie, not colored in) reading “GIVE US BACK SAN JOSE.” The guy held it up between innings and didn’t get much of a reaction until the 5th or 6th inning, when someone in the “Champions Suite” next to the press box started yelling, “GO HOME OAKLAND” repeatedly. Pretty sure the guy in the suite was 100% sober. Yep. As clearheaded as a Mormon on Sunday.
— A car-sized blimp floated around the park for a couple innings during the middle of this one. It was one of those remote-controlled dirigibles you see at NBA games, except with the wind at AT&T the stupid thing tumbled around in the air and almost hit the right field foul pole and the lights above the center field scoreboard. I was positive the blimp was going to crash into the arcade and knock some fans either onto the field in right or behind the wall onto the concrete in front of the cove. Luckily someone shot it out of the sky or something and it vanished after a while.
— Zito got a standing ovation when he was lifted after 5.1 innings that were okay, but probably not standing-o worthy. As he left the field, did he tip his cap? Did he doff his cap? Did he throw his cap into the stands? No, he refrained from acknowledging the crowd and clearly said, “F—— bulls—” as he walked from the mound to the dugout. Maybe I’m alone, but I’m going to miss Zito’s tantrums when he’s gone. If someone made a montage of every time Zito angrily handed the ball to Bochy and storming off the mound, I’d happily hand that person $50.
— Some “fan” in a yellow spandex suit interrupted play late in this already slow-moving game. He ran out to center field, fell down, then ran straight for the wall in straightaway center. He tried to scale the wall but couldn’t, then was pulled back by security and tackled or whatever they do.
— With rumors about the Giants signing Melvin Mora and looking into adding Orlando Hudson all the rage yesterday, of course the Giants signed someone to bolster their shallow bullpen instead. Brad Penny’s a Giant again. Rejoice.
“I’ve had Brad. Things didn’t work out in Japan. We’ll have an experienced guy here, pitch in the bullpen. If needed he could start, as he’s always done. He wanted to be here, that was important to us. He’s healthy, what we wanted to see in the bullpen he showed that. We had our doctor look at him. He’s going to go to Fresno at some point. I think the plan is to go to Arizona and face some hitters. He’s missed some time,” Bochy said.
“He’s close, but he needs some work. So he’ll go get ready to help us at some point. We signed him to be here.”
Zito: “I want the ball, you know, that’s it. So, definitely go with Bochy’s decision every time. He’s the manager. But it was something that I was very angry at myself, going 3-0 to Weeks there to lead off that inning and that was the difference. So I was more upset with myself for not really slamming the door.”
Brandon Belt (1-for-2, BB, 3 RBIs): “Everyone’s being a little more selective, getting on base … Blanco, he’s been kind of setting the tone at the beginning of the game. Talking with the hitting coaches, they’ve been talking with everybody, saying go up there and look for a certain pitch if you don’t get it lay off of it. That’s what most people have been doing and it’s been working out for us.”
Jeremy Affeldt: “I feel a lot stronger, but they’ve been making me do more sit-ups. When you go on the DL you get rid of your boiler and you add an ab, so for me that’s kind of core strength. So they made me work harder on the DL than I think I’ve done all spring … no, not Schierholtz abs, Baggarly, that’s abnormal. I’ll just go with my three, let’s keep it at that.”
That noise you heard at the beginning was Affeldt’s son, Walker, trying to get his dad’s attention before leaving the clubhouse.