We don’t have Sergio Romo and Angel Pagan to kick around this time. Instead the Rockies torched Juan Gutierrez mostly, then got the dagger hit against Javier Lopez. Throw in some shaky defense from the middle infielders, and the Giants found themselves on the losing end once again.
This wasn’t just a sweep against the Rockies, maybe not the Giants’ most hated rivals but certainly the most annoying — this was an avalanche of missed opportunities and poor play under pressure. Talking heads call it “choking.” The Giants hope it will end after today.
That was after losing three of four to the Nationals, which means the Giants came a Tim Hudson start away from the Worst Week Ever™ after blowing a 4-2 ninth inning lead on Friday, a 4-3 ninth inning lead on Saturday, and a 7-4 eighth inning lead today.
I’m at my father-in-law’s house today (Happy Father’s Day, everyone!), so I have no idea what Bruce Bochy and the players are saying. Bochy gave home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski an earful after Juan Perez struck out looking (on a pitch that looked like a strike, based on MLB Gameday), so we know that while it might not yet be time to panic (or Panik), it’s time to stop acting like everything is OK.
It’s tempting to look at the big picture (best record in baseball, biggest lead in any division at 6.5 games), but the Giants head to Chicago as a team that can’t rest on good vibes and the belief that everything will turn out fine, no matter how careless they look at the plate, in the field or on the mound. The bullpen was pitching ridiculously well for most of the season, so a slump from those guys was inevitable. But how do the Giants stop this porous late-game defense from becoming a thing?
I have no idea — I spent the day eating junk food, and after this section I’m going to crack my second Racer 5 and work on the rest of this post.
Madison Bumgarner to the rescue(?)
Madison Bumgarner didn’t get the win, but he experienced one of the busiest days of his big league career.
- Seven innings: four earned runs, six hits, four walks, nine strikeouts, one HBP
- Safety squeeze bunt that resulted in a Rockies error
- Solo home run in the fifth
- Season-high 118 pitches
- At least 17 documented snotrockets
— DavidXF (@SanDiegoGiants) June 15, 2014
The ball was carrying to left field today, and four home runs sailed into the bleachers today. The Rockies’ MVP frontrunner blasted a two-run shot off Bumgarner, then Hector Sanchez and Pablo Sandoval hit back-to-back homers in the fourth that seemed to carry a lot more than balls usually do that close to sea level. But Bumgarner’s home run looked like it would’ve went out at any time, in any park. If he isn’t the most fun player on the team to watch, I’d like to hear the arguments for anyone else.
Team Dinger: not yet extinct
The Giants’ shrinking lead over the Dodgers has caused much consternation in Northern California, and a run from the team Magic Johnson loves to post inane tweets about is probably going to come at some point. However, the Giants had an opportunity to end the Rockies’ season prematurely and did the exact opposite.
Colorado is only 8.5 games behind, and even with all the injury issues (including Troy Toelowitzki, who did a ton of damage while hobbling around today), they aren’t dead yet.
This is trending toward the eye-test/narrative realm of results-oriented #analysis, but the Giants looked tentative with those late-innings leads while the Rockies looked like they were fighting for their season. The Giants have talked quite a bit throughout the good times about competing hard, everyone contributing and focusing on each day/game as it comes. The Nationals series was pretty easy to wipe off the slate, because the Nats are pretty danged talented and the Giants beat them on Thursday. But the way the Rockies and Giants finished these games looked like a pattern … for both teams.
This wasn’t just the bullpen
The Giants had a 90%+ chance of winning this game in the eighth inning, based on those fun probability figures that don’t really mean anything. They had a three-run lead. They still lost. Gutierrez simply didn’t have it, and it was pretty surprising to see Bochy let him pitch to D.J. LeMahieu, who Gutierrez retired on a grounder that would’ve led to a double play if Brandon Crawford and/or Ehire Adrianza handled their exchanges cleanly. As unfair as it sounds, retiring guys like Justin Morneau is Lopez’s job description.
If Giants lose this game, they didn’t lose in 8th. They’ll lose because they stranded 9 in the 1st 4 innings.
— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) June 15, 2014
A lot of people knee-jerked their way into Andrew Baggarly’s mentions after this one, and I see those fans’ point to an extent. Seven runs and a three-run lead with six outs to go should be enough. But everyone in the Giants’ starting lineup picked up at least one hit, and the Giants left 12 guys on base and went 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position. That last figure doesn’t sound awful, but the Giants had some pretty bad Rockies pitchers on the ropes and failed to break the game open.
Three last bits of good news
1. Buster Posey was removed from the game shortly after a foul ball rocked him in the mask. He was taken out of the game after suffering a headache, but Posey told reporters that he passed his concussion test.
2. After just two days off in the last 45 days, the Giants get two this week.
3. Santiago Casilla should be back by Tuesday’s game, and Brandon Belt sounds like he’s just a couple weeks away. The sooner the better, in both cases.