The rain never came. It was the last time the Giants and Phillies, two proud organizations in the midst of disappointing seasons, would face this season. The Giants mounted a few threats against Cole Hamels that fell flat, and Matt Cain was on his way to a loss he didn’t deserve. Once the Phillies took a 1-0 lead and the game became official, a three-hour downpour seemed inevitable. But the rain never came.
Instead, the Giants mounted an wacky comeback in the top of the ninth against Jonathan Papelbon, the only man on the Phillies whose face makes Chase Utley’s appear positively lovable by comparison. Hunter Pence led off with an infield single. Brett Pill, riding an 0-for-3, quickly fell into an 0-2 hole, but Papelbon threw a belt-high fastball across the middle that Pill knocked the opposite way for another single. Roger Kieschnick pinch-hit for Jeff Francoeur and came through with yet another single, one night after his 2-for-4 debut. Then Joaquin Arias gave Philadelphia another reason to curse loudly at Papelbon with a single to left, and the Giants took the lead.
Sergio Romo warmed up in the bullpen, ready to nail down an easy save. Barry Zito sat on a bench close by, holding a baseball and sneering at the world. No rain in sight.
Arias error. Romo’s Under Armour spikes gave way after fielding Cody Asche’s bunt. Romo threw a pitch to John Mayberry that was located in just the perfect spot — if Romo and Mayberry were playing catch with an actual frisbee. But Romo was attempting a frisbee slider. There was no way for Mayberry to get out of the way even if he wanted to, and the bases were loaded even though no ball left the infield.
That would’ve been a perfect time for a cloudburst, forcing the Giants to both sit and think about what they’d done for a while and replace Romo with another pitcher once the action started up again. (Perhaps Zito! No, not Zito. Zito is there to come in after Guillermo Moscoso pitches horribly on Sunday and drop five shutout innings on Tampa Bay, just because.)
The weather stayed dry, Romo kept his sliders closer to the plate and in the process cleaned up his own (and Arias’) mess, and the Giants are on their way to
a double-digit win streak and an historic comeback in the National League West Tampa for a three-game series against the Rays.
— Cain barely missed notching the Giants’ second complete game of the season, but he’d probably rather have the win.
— The beat writers had to be happy after this one, and not just because the weather cooperated. Dealing with Cain after a 1-0 loss where the only run was driven in by Hamels would’ve been even more painful than a 7 am flight tomorrow morning after a rain delay at Citizens Bank Park.
— I read about Cain getting pulled after two-thirds of an inning on July 10 and my first thought was, “His season may be over.” In three starts since, Cain has allowed four runs in 20 innings.
— Great assist by Jeff Francoeur:
“Frenchy” became a dreadful hitter in his late-20s, and doesn’t appear to be getting better with the Giants. But that was impressive.
— What was worse in the ninth inning — Gregor Blanco’s bunt or the decision to lay one down with no outs and Papelbon melting down like an Otter Pop in the sun? The decision. Definitely the decision.
— Mike Krukow mentioned how Pablo Sandoval lost a bunch of weight after a nice defensive play, something I hadn’t noticed at all. Then he came up to the plate a little while later and his face did look a bit thinner. Nice to see he’s getting a head start on his contract year push.
— I can’t do the whole Belt vs. Pill thing tonight. Maybe tomorrow or in a couple of days, but right now I’m tired.