The Giants have come pretty danged close to winning two-thirds of their games. But this 4-2 win over the Mets looked like a win from 2012, with Matt Cain throwing seven strong innings and Buster Posey hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to break a 2-2 tie.
So, yeah, the photo above doesn’t really capture the mood of this game. But it was too good not to use.
It’s hard to choose what the Giants missed most — Cain’s innings or Posey’s power. Even though it’s probably the wrong choice, I’m going to go with Posey. Why? Because his slugging percentage dropped below .400 this past week, and that just doesn’t seem right. Sure, he’s been picking up base hits left and right (and center!) since coming back from his three-game absence. But there’s something different about seeing him put one into the bleachers in left center at just the right time.
According to Matt Chisholm of the Giants public relations department, this was Posey’s fourth go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later in his career, and the second this year (Mar. 31). I’m pretty sure the “Yes Movement” wasn’t in effect back then, but it was tonight.
It was pretty clear that Posey’s swing was back on balance when he returned after missing the first three games of the St. Louis series. He had at least one hit in each of his previous four games — a total of five singles and one double. Posey hit singles in his first two at-bats, then he got a hanging cutter from Carlos Torres that he was able to drive.
“He’s been getting good swings off. The home runs haven’t been there, but he’s been hitting it hard. He just hadn’t gotten the ball in the air,” said Bruce Bochy.
I asked Posey about his approach, whether he was waiting to make sure he was fully locked in before focusing on really driving the ball:
“I don’t know. I think there’s a balance there. You want to try to stay within yourself. Sometimes you try to do too much, get big, you start pulling off balls. You want to keep things as simple as possible,” he said.
I also asked Cain about seeing Posey finally launch one.
“It’s great. He did a good job of putting some at-bats together the last few days. He just missed some pitches in Cincinnati. I think he probably had a couple pitches today that he wanted to drive a little bit farther. But he got some hits and he took advantage of that one that finally hung there for him,” said Cain, who was happy to be contributing again.
“It felt great because the Giants have been playing pretty well. Maybe I should’ve stayed off and they would’ve kept playing well,” he said with a laugh. “It stinks when you’re sitting there and you’re watching the guys play real well. You want to be a part of it, you want to be able to help out.”
The Giants came into this game with best record in baseball (according to multiple sources), which is pretty remarkable considering they haven’t gotten much from their most expensive starting pitcher.
Like Posey, Cain appears to be back in every sense, as he had the Cainiest outing we’ve seen from the ol’ Cainer Horse this season.
He started with four perfect innings. After walking Curtis Granderson on a pretty close 3-1 pitch to start the fifth, Andrew Brown grounded into a double play. The first hit Cain surrendered was an infield single to lead off the sixth, and that was also followed by a double play. He faced the minimum through six, but in the seventh he gave up a double to Matt den Dekker and a homer to Daniel Murphy — both on sliders.
“I thought the fastball had as much life as I’ve seen in a while. I think the encouraging thing was the offspeed stuff wasn’t as sharp as it can be. Still seven strong and giving up two. Definitely some positive stuff,” said Posey.
– The healthy Brandons manufactured the first two runs. Brandon Hicks hit the first triple of his career in the fifth and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Crawford. Then the Giants tied it in the bottom of the seventh when Hicks doubled and Crawford brought him in with a single up the middle against lefty Jonathon Niese.
“Niese was throwing the ball well, very well. That’s a tough at-bat for Crawford, but he got it done with the fly ball. It’s hard to get better clutch hitting than he did with that base hit up the middle to score Hicks,” Bochy said.
– Bochy also said, “We’re getting a contribution from everybody throughout the lineup … That’s one reason we’ve had success to this point.” Cain and Posey said almost the same thing, and Bochy uttered something similar after at least two of their wins during their 5-2 road trip. If anyone makes a “Bochy BINGO” card, some version of that quote definitely deserves a square.
– Hicks’ slump seems to be over, as he’s 4-for-10 in his last three games after getting a couple days (including an off day for the team) to rest and figure out what was wrong.
“I feel like I was finally able to carry some adjustments into the game,” said Hicks. He’s a man of few words, but here’s how he described the adjustments he made in the batting cage: “Just trying to stay on top of the ball.”
– Jeremy Affeldt picked up his first win of the season on his 35th birthday, and Sergio Romo picked up his 19th save with a perfect ninth. It looks like Romo’s figured out whatever was causing his sliders to hang a little too much a week ago.
– Brandon Belt update, courtesy of Bochy:
“He had the pins taken out. He’s got a portable cast that he’ll have on for a week. He’s doing a lot of running, one-armed swinging. He’ll get this cast off and do some baseball activities. He’s still three weeks away, in that area. We don’t have a target date, but it’s a big day for him to get those pins out and start being able to move the hand a little bit.”
– The Dodgers are still 8.5 games back after beating the Rockies 7-2. Colorado looks like they’ve already experienced their annual collapse, losing their last eight and 18 of their last 24. They’re 11.5 games back and four games under .500.
– More good news for the Giants: Don Mattingly said the Dodgers are “basically s—” a couple days ago.
– Posey’s postgame quotes aren’t usually all that exciting, but the facial expressions are up there with anybody else’s on the team. Tonight’s pouty-face reminded me of this one from Spring Training a few years ago.
– Here’s the pout in video form. I added a clip from later in the interview session where he messed around with John Shea.