The healthiest way to deal with today’s game is to focus on Pablo Sandoval’s single to right with two outs in the fourth. That’s a little early in a ballgame to start talking about no-hitters and jinxes, but R.A. Dickey looked that good and the San Francisco Giants looked that bad in facing him. Dickey didn’t make it through all nine innings in the Toronto Blue Jays’ 4-0 win, but he came close: 8.1 IP, two hits allowed and two walks.
It’s hard to come up with much to say about Dickey or his outing, other than … wow, he was really good. And maybe that Cy Young last year wasn’t a fluke. And thank goodness the Giants aren’t slated to face a knuckleballer anytime soon.
“I hope we don’t see another one. We certainly have a tough time with it. (Dickey) had a good one today,” Bruce Bochy said. We couldn’t do much with it. He just shut us down.”
Since the Giants looked so lost and they have a well-earned reputation as a free-swinging team, one might wonder if they’re set up for failure against a guy like Dickey, who throws pitches that dart in and out of the strike zone. Bochy wasn’t quite so sure that was the case.
“He was throwing strikes with it. He got a lot of called strikes. You’ve still got to keep your aggressiveness and let it go,” Bochy said. “It’s tough to say, ‘Hey, let’s back off a little bit.’ You want these guys to still be on the attack. He just had a good one today.”
And it’s not like Buster Posey and Brandon Belt, the two most patient hitters in the lineup, had much luck. They both went 0-for-3, while Sandoval collected the Giants’ first hit of the game on the first pitch of his second plate appearance and Gregor Blanco got the second hit off Dickey on the second pitch of his plate appearance in the ninth. There’s no getting around it — despite the crappy stats Dickey brought into this game, he was fantastic. Zito was merely average, and that’s the story as the Giants’ record sits at 31-28.
Since most of us have never hit a true knuckler before, here’s Zito’s description of what it was like to face Dickey:
“It drops out of the air. He’s got a couple different speeds he throws it, too. He throws a slower one, then he throws the hard one. It’s tough to gauge. His arm speed is really the reason why he’s so tough to hit,” Zito said. “It’s deceptive.”
Here’s what it looked like, thanks to Carmen’s GIF-wizardry:
— Usually when it comes to fans of AL East teams taking over opposing ballparks, Yankees and Red Sox supporters are the ones doing the invading. But other than when the A’s or Dodgers come to AT&T Park, I can’t remember a series in recent memory with more fans of the visiting team in the stands than this two-gamer against Toronto. The Blue Jays may be in the middle of a disappointing (25-34) season thus far, but they seem to have plenty of fans around here.
— After walking six in his last outing, Zito came out throwing strikes early, and it worked well for him until the Blue Jays scored four runs in the fifth — an inning that included a fantastic butcher boy (or “slash,” as Zito called it) down the left field line from Dickey that somehow scored 41-year-old Henry Blanco (a catcher!) from first because Torres was playing Dickey so far off the line, along with three stolen bases and a two-run single by Mark DeRosa. Yes, Mark “Wrist of Death” DeRosa.
I asked Zito about his overall effort today: “The fifth inning was the Achilles heel today, and being unable to minimize the damage. The slash? That’s fine. That’s going to happen. But for me with two outs, giving up a couple hits to (Jose) Bautista) and De-Ro, that one hurt for me.”
— Pablo Sandoval was wearing an ice wrap around his left foot in the clubhouse after the game, and I think a point made last night by Alex Pavlovic was a good one: “To all those who immediately blame Sandoval’s weight every time he gets hurt, it’s only fair to now give him a little credit for playing hurt.”
— After scoring 22 runs in the first five games Angel Pagan missed, the Giants have been outscored 22-7 in their last five. Will Pagan make his return on Friday after a 10-game absence? “He’s real close. We’re hoping he’ll be okay to go in Arizona. He still feels it when he’s making his cuts,” Bochy said. One has to wonder if the Giants might use the DL to their advantage more aggressively the next time someone injures a hamstring.
— More Bochy: “I’m glad we’re off tomorrow so we can kind of wash this off and not even think about that knuckleball.” That’s probably something all Giants players and fans can agree on as they head out for a nine-game road trip.