Maybe the Giants were tired on Sunday afternoon. It’s been a busy weekend. Home opener on Friday (a glorious, dominant win), then Barry Zito’s surprisingly good start following his complete game shutout on Colorado last night (a strange, exciting, close victory). Most importantly, the team waved goodbye to Brian Wilson for a while (in a sense, since he said he’ll be around the team while recovering from inevitable Tommy John surgery).
Even though Ryan Vogelsong was the story of last season to many, the Giants couldn’t muster much of anything in support of his first start of the 2012 season. Vogelsong didn’t look all that spectacular early on, allowing a Garrett Jones home run and a couple walks over the first few innings. But overall he was very good: he struck out someone in each of the 7 innings he threw (Vogelsong completed 6.1 innings and took the loss, allowing 7 baserunners and 2 earned runs … and you wonder why more and more baseball observers don’t care at all about win/loss records).
Unfortunately for Vogelsong, the rest of the team didn’t look quite as inspired as you’d think after a quality start from a Willie Mac Award winner.
The defense showed flashes of awesome: Nate Schierholtz and Gregor Blanco both made over-the-shoulder catches in triples alley on Andrew McCutchen blasts; Pablo Sandoval made a diving snowcone catch near the bullpen mound in left field; Brandon Crawford tagged McCutchen on the helmet to catch him stealing on a throw from Buster Posey that almost drilled 2nd base umpire Brian Runge. But there was trouble in the infield again. Sandoval made another errant throw (his 4th error of the season) and Vogelsong didn’t help himself by taking too long to cover first on an infield roller that scored the Pirates’ second run.
The offensive output was meager, only collecting 5 hits and 1 run — the first time so far this season that the Giants have scored fewer than 4 runs. When they got guys on base they didn’t produce, most notably stranding Angel Pagan after a leadoff triple in the 8th inning. That was Pagan’s fault, as he should’ve scored on Melky Cabrera’s slow grounder to first.
I asked Bochy about that play, and if it was Pagan’s decision to stay at third.
“He said he didn’t see the ball. He came up, apologized. He said, ‘I just didn’t see where the ball went at first. I hesitated, then I didn’t want to go.’ Normally on that ball you score,” Bochy said. “That’s a big run. Didn’t really change the game but at the same time these are some of the small mistakes I was talking about that we made today that came back to haunt us.”
If you want visual proof that this brief conversation occurred, you can see his response here:
— Comcast still hasn’t contacted me about that tagline, even though it’s pretty similar to Extra Baggs, so I’m going to (t)roll with it until further notice.
— I also talked to Brandon Belt in the clubhouse. Belt went 1-for-3 with a base hit that he stretched into a double (he may have been tagged out, but Belt deserves at least one break early on this season). In our brief chat I asked about what he’s working on with his approach, the Giants’ shaky defense thus far and if he’ll play tomorrow against Roy Halladay.
— The last hitter of the game, Pagan, sent a foul ball almost straight at me. Generally the angle of the press box, combined with the height of the screen behind home plate, precludes any foul balls from coming into the AT&T press box. But this one almost did, hitting the wall less than two feet below my laptop. I stared at the ball as it came in my direction for what seemed like 30 seconds, then at the last moment jumped to my right. The fans below me laughed, which was a perfectly reasonable response. I did everything besides let out a high-pitched squeal.
— People need to ease up on Pagan. It’s not his fault Bochy isn’t starting Belt every day, and he’s been a good player throughout his career who just happens to start very slowly (his April numbers throughout his career are pretty awful). The truth is it’s hard for this team to score many runs when Cabrera and Posey go a combined 0-for-8. Posey in particular looked bad today, striking out on 3 pitches in the 9th against Jason Grilli. Posey didn’t play yesterday, so it’ll be interesting to see if he gets many more full days off in the near future. Might see some more pinch-hitting appearances for Posey on the days Hector Sanchez starts, unless he’s tired or comes down with another case of shingles.
— Doc Halladay vs. Freaky Franchise tomorrow. Generally that would mean a 2-1 game in some team’s favor, but with Tim Lincecum’s first two starts the Giants would be happy to win 6-5. Halladay’s only allowed 8 baserunners and 1 earned run over 15 innings so far, so that might be asking a lot. Then again, the answer to anything like that is always: Zito’s start in Colorado. Pretty much trumps any expected outcome one can throw out there.
— Here’s Vogelsong after the game talking about the loss.