In April and May, when the Giants season seemed like one long montage set to “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang, you couldn’t go more than a couple days without hearing how the lineup was so deep. So much longer than before. Hey buddy, don’t sleep on those guys at the bottom of the lineup. They can do some real damage.
The only missing starter at the time was Marco Scutaro. He’s back, but without Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt (who will be placed on either the 15-day disabled list or the special 7-day model for players who suffer concussions), the lineup is on the shallow end. That was the story today, as the 1-2-3 hitters combined to reach base six times in 12 plate appearances and were fully responsible for the Giants’ two-run rally in the third. Those were the only runs they’d score, as the last six spots in the order went a combined 1-for-21.
So pinning the blame on Bruce Bochy for Sunday’s 3-2 loss in Miami seems silly, even though he left Tim Lincecum in the game to pitch the bottom of the seventh and the Marlins took the lead against Lincecum in that inning on a leadoff double, sacrifice bunt and wild pitch. Perhaps if the game went to extras, Hunter Pence, Scutaro and/or Buster Posey could’ve scraped together a run. But that’s sort of like a student in Northern California hoping for a snow-related school closure when he or she is ill-prepared for a final exam.
Still, let’s discuss Bochy’s decision anyway. Letting Lincecum hit for himself in the top of the seventh made some sense, since there were two outs and Belt’s unavailability made the bench even shorter than normal. Lincecum actually had the best swing of the three Giants who batted that inning, almost picking up a base hit on a sharp grounder up the middle. However, there were plenty of signs that Lincecum would probably struggle in the bottom of the inning, even though he had only thrown 93 pitches.
- Lincecum only surrendered two runs over the first six innings, but the Marlins helped by getting thrown out trying to take third base twice in the second inning and once in the third.
- Garrett Jones crushed two lollipop breaking balls a combined 850 feet off Lincecum in the sixth, but both deep drives were just to the right of the right field foul pole.
- Lincecum looked like Shaq in a steam room by the sixth inning.
- When Lincecum sweats like that, his concentration often wanes (for example: this year’s start in Cincinnati, when he did everything but lose control of his bowels every time Billy Hamilton reached base). We saw a little of that in the sixth, when Lincecum balked runners to second and third before getting out of the inning on a comebacker.
Was Bochy worried about giving Lincecum another chance to get the all-important (j/k) win? Once the victories looked inevitable for Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson in the first two games of this series, Bochy had no problem lifting either starter before they reached 85 pitches. Perhaps he wanted to save the bullpen before a four-game series in Philadelphia, where the ballpark is nowhere near as forgiving as the cavernous neon curiosity in Miami.
Whatever the reasoning, the Giants were going to lose this game anyway. They scored just two runs in seven innings against Brad Hand.
Hand’s numbers as a starter, coming into today: 1-12, 5.09 ERA, 1.60 WHIP in 20 starts.
We knew the Giants’ lack of depth was going to cause trouble at some point, and here we are. Or, more accurately, here we’ve been for a month and a half. The Giants won their first series after the All-Star break, and it came in Miami. So it’s tough to go all gloom and doom, even if the Dodgers are all but certain to gain a game on the Giants today (Clayton Kershaw is starting this evening against the Cardinals).
However — and get ready for some BREAKING news — this team needs an extra hitter pretty badly. With Hector Sanchez, Joaquin Arias and Gregor Blanco all in the midst of some pretty awful seasons, the Giants can’t afford to play any more games where all three start at the same time. In April and May, it rarely if ever occurred. In June, one could argue that the bench vets (and Sanchez is in his fourth year, so despite being only 24 he’s a veteran) deserved chances to figure things out.
- Sanchez is hitting .138 since the beginning of June.
- Arias has had one extra-base hit and two good games all season.
- Blanco had a six-game hitting streak going into today’s game, but there are reasons why Pence is now leading off and Blanco hit eighth today.
This isn’t a Bochy problem, it’s personnel. Brandon Crawford was taken out of Friday’s game with a bruised knee, so that could’ve been why he spent today’s dreaded day-game-after-a-night-game on the bench. Sanchez is Lincecum’s personal catcher, and Blanco is the team’s only center fielder. It’s not clear that the outcome would’ve been any different with Joe Panik or Tyler Colvin (hitting .135 over the last 28 days) in there, either.
— Yesterday we talked about why it would be a mistake to bring in Dan Uggla, since his defense was never all that strong and he hasn’t hit well in years. However, I can see where fans wouldn’t mind seeing if Brian Sabean could get lucky with a guy who’s hit 233 home runs.
But with all due respect to Marty Lurie …
Marty calls bringing in Pierzynski a no-brainer.
— LOL KNBR (@LOLKNBR) July 20, 2014
Before the 2004 season, A.J. Pierzynski punched former Giants athletic trainer Stan Conte in the genitals in Spring Training, and things never got much better throughout the rest of his first (and only) year in San Francisco. Giants fans have detested him ever since, and the hate was rekindled when he questioned Posey’s toughness during Game 2 of the 2012 World Series for using a swipe tag — that worked! — on the famous relay play where Prince Fielder tried to score on Delmon Young’s double.
Bringing in Pierzynski to catch Lincecum isn’t as unlikely as the Giants acquiring Scott Cousins … but it’s close.
— Lincecum threw a lot of hanging breaking balls today. The one to Casey McGehee was so bad, Lincecum was jumping around and swearing at the same time the ball met lumber. He got away with most of the others, and struck out seven. Overall, a pretty decent effort compared to how he usually pitches in cities other than San Francisco and San Diego.
— Based on effort and attention to detail, the Marlins looked like a team that wouldn’t have minded getting swept. That was probably the most frustrating part about this loss from the Giants’ perspective — teams that give away outs at third base like promoters handing out club flyers on a street corner generally don’t win many one-run games.
— Scutaro told the beat writers that he felt better after today’s game than his season debut last Saturday, a good sign after he collected his first hit of the year and scored from first on Posey’s double.
— Is Posey primed for a huge second half? So far he’s 5-for-11 with two walks, and today he gave us (and by “us” I mean @gidget, who in turn gave it to us on Twitter) this GIF: