This one had it all. A return of vintage Matt Cain. Multiple Sergio Romo hanging sliders, which led to a two-run home run and two almost-homers. Buster Posey coming off the bench and yanking a double to left field on a 101-mph fastball from Aroldis Chapman to tie it in the bottom of the ninth.
None of that matters (well, besides the Romo part), since the Giants were a pitch away from getting out of the 11th unscathed, then proceeded to give up a five-spot in a 7-3 loss to the Reds. It was their third straight loss to Cincinnati, their 14th loss in their last 18 games, and their 11th loss in their last 13 home games.
They’re still in first place, but that also seems almost irrelevant. The Dodgers are only a game back. At this rate, L.A. will be up by 9.5 games by July 4. Not possible, you say? You haven’t been watching this team.
Romo was awful. Brandon Phillips had the home run; Devin Mesoraco and Ryan Ludwick both hit high drives that were caught by Juan Perez at the warning track. His job was to hold a 1-0 lead, and Romo’s days as a closer are probably coming to an end.
This is where Bruce Bochy needs to be taken to task a little. He may end up in the Hall of Fame one day. He’s great at his job, because he manages 25 personalities (plus the coaches and media) extremely well, and he might be the best in baseball at handling a bullpen and making the correct decisions more often than not in the postseason.
— Romo’s second blown save of the season came on May 20 in Colorado. It was his 22nd outing in the Giants’ 46th game, which put him on pace for 77.5 appearances this season. For a pitcher with a trick knee who’s commonly seen with a huge ice wrap around his right elbow after games, that’s probably too many appearances. Maybe overuse wasn’t a concern, with Romo heading to free agency after the season and several young flamethrowers waiting in the minors, but Romo isn’t right. That’s mostly on Romo, but overuse isn’t a reliever’s friend. Just ask George Kontos.
— Posey’s double put runners on second and third with no outs in the ninth against Aroldis Chapman, who was pitching for the fourth consecutive game. Hector Sanchez grounded out to Zack Cozart, who was playing in, and Bochy sent Joaquin Arias in to pinch-hit for Brandon Crawford.
This wasn’t a move that was bad in hindsight. It was just bad.
Crawford getting called back for … Arias?
— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) June 29, 2014
Arias grounded out to Cozart. Adam Duvall struck out. Inning over.
“That’s gonna be a question that Bruce Bochy’s going to have to answer. Because that’s the first thing they’re going to ask him after the game. ‘Why did you let Arias hit for Brandon Crawford against a left-hander, with Crawford having such great success against lefties?'”
— Mike Krukow, during Arias’ at-bat in the bottom of the 11th inning (when he had an RBI single off Jumbo Diaz).
I’m not at today’s game, so I don’t know if Bochy was asked about the move. Unless I missed it, CSN Bay Area didn’t show most of Bochy’s postgame press conference. (Update: Andrew Baggarly tweeted Bochy’s answer.) But despite Arias’ career numbers versus lefties, he’s been awful this year. And despite Crawford’s career numbers versus lefties, his numbers against them have been fantastic this season.
It was a hunch that didn’t work. The players are mostly to blame for this lousy stretch, but nobody on the team is perfect — including Bochy.
— Cain hasn’t pitched like this in a while. He’s had plenty of outings like this in his career, especially ones where the Giants provided him with very little run support or squandered the lead after his day was over, and today both of those things happened.
Still, Cain was very good. He only had one inning where he didn’t allow a base runner. For a guy who’s had trouble locating in the stretch, no runs allowed over seven is a great sign.
I don’t do GIFs, so bear with me. Matt Cain walked off the mound like a new man after the strike-him-out-throw-him-out double play to end the seventh inning, mean-mugging the dugout camera after tossing his gum into the dirt.
At least the Cainsaw returned. What? It’s no worse of a nickname than “the horse,” if you ask me.
— The league is catching up to Jean Machi. Santiago Casilla will probably be the team’s next closer, maybe as soon as Sunday.
— Javier Lopez promptly gave up a double to Joey Votto to lead off the 11th. That’s understandable, since Votto is one of the best hitters alive. But Votto is not exactly a swift runner, and he would’ve been out by at least two steps if Lopez threw to third on Jay Bruce’s sacrifice bunt.
— To add insult to injury, the woman who kept screaming for the Reds was near a microphone. Maybe someone in charge of the mics can lower the volume or even cut the offending mic completely when an annoying fan takes over? It seems to have happened a lot this year.
So that lady likes the Spurs and the Reds, huh? Weird combination, but SHUT UP just the same. http://t.co/esb90ty3Dh
— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) June 29, 2014