The good news is that the soul of this team hasn’t vanished. This is the same group of fiery, talented players that we remember from October, and they gave Arizona a scare after falling behind 7-4. The bad news is a lot of these players have already gotten injured, and the questions about their starting rotation weren’t answered (in a good way, at least) on Tuesday night.
The Giants will not finish this season undefeated. Ryan Vogelsong fought and fought and the results showed nothing but struggle. He gave up seven earned and two three-run homers, a wholly disappointing night considering how well he looked in its early stages.
But at least Vogelsong left due to fatigue and dingers instead of injury. The Giants lost Brandon Belt to a groin strain of some sort; he went back to chase a foul pop and came up lame after two steps. He told the beat writers that he could jog if needed, but the evil groin fairy “grabbed me pretty good.” But hey, at least there are ways to keep Belt on a jogging-only plan … as long as no one hits the ball in his direction when he’s playing first base, and he hits nothing but home runs, infield flies and grounders to the pitcher when he’s at the plate.
The Giants have dealt with several boo-boos over the last few weeks, but only one of these injuries should’ve taken anyone by surprise. Matt Cain had elbow surgery eight months ago and tossed over 1,500 big league innings before turning 28. Jake Peavy pitched 218.2 innings (including four postseason starts) at age 33 last year, and he will almost certainly follow Cain to the DL. Belt is in the midst of a 12-month period where weird things keep happening to him, so we should probably just expect them at this point. Hunter Pence’s fractured arm was probably the one example of truly bad luck, since he’s Mr. Perfect Attendance.
Player of the Game: Buster Posey
He got caught napping off first base by Arizona catcher Tuffy Gosewich. No one’s perfect, but Posey came pretty close throughout the rest of this game, going 3-for-3 with a walk after finishing 0-for-4 on Monday night. He hit the team’s first home run of the season, a two-run shot to left in the first inning. He made a nice throw to third base to get the lead runner on Rubby De La Rosa’s bunt, too.
— The palpable anger is part of Vogelsong’s charm. However, the body language he showed tonight after those home runs might have been a little over the top — especially the one by Jake Lamb that knocked him out of the game. It’s not often you see a pitcher fling his glove several feet in the air.
And hey, I finally got a Vine account today! Here’s my first Vine:
It’s a totally understandable display, knowing how much Vogelsong cares and the high hopes he must have had for this start, and it won’t matter at all if Vogelsong pitches well in his next turn. But regardless of how accurate a home plate umpire’s strike zone might be that evening, the glove toss is just a bad look. Sort of like a golfer tossing his nine iron into the lake. Letting the world know you’re at your wit’s end is a strange message to send during the second game of the season.
— Bochy told the beat guys that the Giants will need to look at bringing up a position player fairly quickly, seeing as they were already dealing with a short bench caused by their 13-man pitching staff. So with Belt hurt, it seems likely that we’ll see plenty of Andrew Susac behind the plate and Buster Posey at first base in the coming days.
— With all the gloom and doom, it’s worth noting that the offense has been fairly awesome so far. The Giants made mincemeat of both D-Backs starters — not that Arizona has great pitchers or plays in a pitching-friendly park, but it’s a start.
- Brandon Crawford is hitting balls hard all over the place and hit an impressive home run to left-center off De La Rosa.
- Belt hit an absolute seed to left to drive in a run (that’s what’s so maddening about these injuries, Belt could be one of the National League’s best hitters if he could stay on the damned field).
- Angel Pagan took strike three to end the game, but when he’s on and healthy — like he appears to be currently — he’s one of the most dangerous offensive players in the league.
— Nori Aoki, Joe Panik and Casey McGehee didn’t do much of anything on Tuesday, but they were fantastic the night before. The offense should be good enough to keep the Giants afloat, and as Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow lamented after the game, four runs is usually enough for this team. Six runs, even in a desert bandbox like Chase Field, should get the Giants a victory eight out of ten times. The problem isn’t how to hold down the fort until Pence comes back, it’s keeping the bullpen from being completely exhausted by mid-April.