The Giants beat a bad team on Monday night, they’re still in last place in their division, and the Dodgers won too. But San Francisco was riding a pretty long home losing streak. So when the Brewers displayed the kind of relief pitching and defense that explains how they have a worse record than the Giants, and the Giants don’t squander the lead that resulted, it’s cause for celebration.
After a 4-2 win on Monday night, the Giants are 50-61. They probably aren’t winning 80 games this year, let alone 90. The Brewers are 47-65, but looked like they were on their way to a comeback win after they scored a run and loaded the bases against Chad Gaudin in the seventh. Then Javier Lopez came in and did what Javier Lopez seems to do more often than not, and wiggled his way out of a hellacious jam. Lopez threw a perfect pitch at the perfect time against a far-from-perfect hitter, and Rickie Weeks grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Gaudin celebrated after trying like hell to keep his eye on the ball, which isn’t easy when you’re in the dugout behind Bruce Bochy and his prodigious dome.
Then the Giants loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth with three walks. Nope, not a typo. At a time like that, what is the perfect move? Bring in Jeff Francoeur as a pinch hitter to replace Roger Kieschnick, who was 2-for-3 on the day! Bochy loves his lefty-righty matchups, and in this case the switch worked, as Francoeur hit a splintered-bat single to left to drive in the go-ahead run. Joaquin Arias hit a ground ball that third baseman Jeff Bianchi couldn’t handle two batters later, the Giants suddenly had a three-run advantage, and they’d only give back one run of that lead in the top of the ninth.
— It sure was nice to focus on something baseball-related that had nothing to do with Biogenesis, PEDs or Alex Rodriguez.
— The Giants’ last win at AT&T Park (5-3 over the Reds on July 23) was technically a makeup road game, which means their last “home” win came on July 20 (4-3 over the D-Backs). 15 days between home wins is an embarrassing amount of time, regardless of schedule.
— Squeezed in the middle of those three walks in the eighth inning included this offering from John Axford:
— The first and second base umpiring was cute. And by “cute,” I mean really lousy. Crummy, even. The double play mentioned earlier really shouldn’t have been, since Weeks was safe at first. That more than made up for an earlier bad call at second, when Brandon Belt tried to stretch a single into a double — the throw beat Belt, but Belt beat the tag and was called out anyway. Francoeur should’ve been called out at second when he got caught sleeping between second and third. It didn’t end up mattering, and it wasn’t exactly an easy call, but fans of human error had a lot to cheer for on Monday night.
— What exactly happened to the Weeks brothers in 2012, anyway? Did they get into a fight and smash mirrors over each other’s heads after removing a tiki doll from an ancient burial ground?
— Gaudin is putting together one hell of a season for a guy who was a borderline fifth starter not that long ago. Since free agency is looming, Gaudin’s shocking rise is both a nice story and a little scary. Unless he hurts his arm or starts pitching horribly, someone’s going to offer him a multiyear deal after what he’s done this season. But should that team be the Giants? Gaudin has allowed two or fewer runs in at least six innings in six of his 10 starts, but he hasn’t thrown 100 pitches in a game this year and his ERA from 2010-12 was 5.16.
— Belt is 6-for-10 with three walks since his “break” in Philadelphia.
— Marco Scutaro went 0-for-5 in his first game as a leadoff hitter, but since the Giants won he’ll probably be in that spot on Tuesday night — which his fine, since if you’re going to experiment you might as well keep it going for at least two games before trying something else.
— It’s not as foolish as making judgements based on one game, but monthly splits don’t really mean anything. However, Gregor Blanco’s monthly numbers over the last two-plus are still startling:
- June: .311/.354/.444
- July: .169/.270/.208
- August: .083/.083/.083
— Hunter Pence isn’t Willie Mays in the outfield (at least his attempt at re-creating “The Catch” on Juan Francisco’s ground rule double was good for a chortle), but his three-walk/two-SB game was an unexpected treat. Pence, who is now on pace for 21 home runs and 25 stolen bases, played as if he was the one Bochy moved into the leadoff spot.