Barry Zito walked Michael Bourn on four pitches to start the game. My response: a snarky comment on Twitter I’d end up regretting, since it was about Eric Hacker keeping his schedule open so he could pitch in the third inning. 104 pitches later, Zito was walking off the field after the top of the 8th to a standing ovation.
A “BARRY, BARRY, BARRY” chant even happened with Zito at the plate in the bottom of the 8th. As Brian Wilson once said: let’s get weird.
Speaking of weird, Hunter Pence fits that bill just by standing in the outfield and blinking semi-occasionally. But when he dropped a perfect bunt through the right side of the infield to keep that 5th inning rally going, the team-first ethos that permeates a winning ballclub (that “winning” part is essential, as human nature is second in strength only to mother nature) was there for the world to see.
Here’s what Bruce Bochy had to say about Pence’s bunt when I asked him if it was a planned play. It wasn’t.
Eight days ago, the Giants clubhouse smelled of dirty shower towels and resentment. Now they’ve won six of their last seven. Their defense, as reliable back in April and May as a mid-80s American sedan running on leaded fuel, has been impeccable of late. Pablo Sandoval saved Zito’s first inning with a great diving play on Martin Prado’s grounder down the line, with Brandon Belt making a great play of his own when he scooped Sandoval’s throw.
After the game, Sandoval said, “Brandon Belt is a great first baseman. I call him The Pick Machine.”
The Giants stole and took extra bases, while the Braves got picked off. The Giants didn’t exactly mash with runners in scoring position (4-for-16, including Bunter Pence), but the Braves went 1-for-12. Zito got out of trouble early, Tommy Hanson couldn’t escape the small-ball barage in the 5th.
The Giants didn’t mash their way to a a win, and Jeremy Affeldt made things a little more anxious in the 9th after Zito was removed from the game with runners on first and second. But the Giants are simply playing good baseball right now, better than their opponents. How’s that from some groundbreaking analysis?
— Angel Pagan, who’s channeling Randy Winn’s first September with the Giants these days, walked twice tonight. For a guy who walked only four times in two separate months this season (April and July), it’s a surprising turn of events. Pagan isn’t Barry Bonds patient, but he has walked 12 times in August, the most of any month this season.
— Has Pagan gotten faster lately, or is it just me?
— I spoke with Javier Lopez after the game for a few minutes about a lot of things, including the Giants’ bullpen by committee and what he thinks about advanced stats aficionados who maintain that pitching in the 9th inning is often overrated (seems like he agrees). He also had some interesting words to say about Melky Cabrera:
“You’d love to have Melky in the lineup and playing for you, but we don’t have time to stop and wait for those guys. The choices that they made are their choices, but ultimately we need 25 guys that are going to try to win a division.”
While Lopez is a great interview subject, this video is also special thanks to a couple of photobombs (videobombs?), courtesy of Matt Cain (1:09) and Ryan Theriot (1:49):
— Up next is a video that’ll cause both Giants AND 49ers fans to say “That’s what’s up.”
Sergio Romo was wearing a very warm-looking 49ers hat, and I asked him about it. Then Kyle “Ruthless Sports Guy” McLorg (in the press box and clubhouse with me tonight for the first time) asked about a white Niners jersey in his locker, to which Romo had a very funny retort. Then Rael Enteen of CSN Bay Area asked who’d win between Jim Harbaugh and Bruce Bochy in a chess match. The answer may surprise you … or not, I don’t know.
I’m not giving any quotes here, you need to watch the video (it’s less than a minute long).