So much for Happy Chad Gaudin Day. Not that it was Gaudin’s fault that the San Francisco Giants lost 6-5 at Turner Field on Saturday evening. But there was nothing happy about losing a game like this, a game where the Giants got five decent innings from Gaudin, three hits from Tony Abreu, some pretty outstanding outfield defense and three innings of scoreless relief from Jean Machi, Javier Lopez and Javier Lopez.
That’s the good, but the bad must get a little more time after a loss like this.
Bruce Bochy’s decision
Gaudin had thrown 79 pitches through five innings — the same number he threw in six innings against St. Louis, and five fewer pitches than his outing in Arizona. So Bochy decided to roll with his starter, a move designed to show a little well-deserved confidence in Gaudin and stretch him out past 84 pitches. Saving the bullpen with Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito scheduled to start the next two games and no off-day until June 27 surely entered into the equation as well.
Guillermo Quiroz set up low and away to start the sixth off against Brian McCann, and Gaudin threw one thigh-high on the inside corner. McCann hit a double down the right field line, and Bochy had to know Gaudin was “leaking oil,” as Mike Krukow put it.
Put Gaudin’s fatigue and some sort of weird B.J. Upton renaissance together, and disaster struck. After getting ahead in the count, Gaudin threw two straight knee-high fastballs over the plate. Upton took the first, then hit the second over the wall in right-center … his second home run of the game. So Bochy had to bring Machi in with no outs anyway, and now the Giants manager is probably in a cold sweat thinking about what he’s going to do tomorrow night if Lincecum reaches 100 pitches before the fifth inning concludes.
To make a basketball comparison, this was one of those games where the Braves were the Lakers and the Giants were the Warriors. The Giants should’ve won anyway, and very well might have if Joaquin Arias bent down about six inches further and fielded Andrelton Simmons’ grounder in the ninth cleanly. But there were two calls on the basepaths that incorrectly went Atlanta’s way: Buster Posey’s foot supposedly being off the bag at first and Gregor Blanco called out on a stolen base attempt at second. There was also this (h/t @seangothman):
Sergio Romo was asked to pitch for the first time since a non-save situation on Sunday and for the second time in 11 days. He wasn’t particularly sharp, but with a little help from Arias and/or Jerry Meals he might have escaped with his 17th save in 19 chances. But even though we’ve seen better command from Romo, we’ve never seen worse body language.
It’s not often that a pitcher becomes so demonstrative after a pitch, especially as close as Romo was to home plate. It was a Pagan-like display of anger and disgust, and once Romo lost his composure and had to be calmed down by Guillermo Quiroz, a single from Freddie Freeman seemed inevitable. Romo’s temper has been especially short lately, like when Brett Pill tagged Romo and sent him sprawling on June 2 in St. Louis. Romo threw a small tantrum, even though the Giants had just won.
Today small (and big) tantrums were thrown in the living rooms of Giants fans after this one, because there’s no more painful place (besides Dodger Stadium) to lose a ninth inning lead than Turner Field when the fans are chanting and chopping. That’s the point, I guess. It surely delights Braves fans to hear that they’re annoying the P.C. ninnies in “San Fran” with their voices and right arms. How much longer are we going to have to deal with this nonsense? Another 10 years? 25? 50?
Looking ahead …
The Giants will look to break June’s lose-lose-win-win-lose-lose streak tomorrow night, and that means there’s still time to predict whether or not Lincecum will come up with a quality start. Even if your prediction turns out completely wrong, you’re still entered to win free pizza from Amici’s. My prediction? All eyes will be on Lincecum, and ESPN’s announcers will have several graphics detailing his struggles over the last two seasons. So I think he’ll be motivated to pitch extremely well … and he’ll give up four runs in five innings.