When the Giants came back to tie the game in the 8th, the crowd went crazy. Not only did the Giants come back from a 4-0 deficit, but they didn’t have any business winning this one. Winning would have kept the Giants within one game of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who won for the first time in seven games on Tuesday. Winning would have seemed like an omen that despite the Giants’ historically bad offense, despite a list of injuries longer than the Giants have seen in years, they still had it in them to make all the bad stuff that happened in the first seven innings disappear.
This 7-5 loss to the Padres wasn’t a statement on their chances to win the NL West. But as undermanned as they are, they can’t expect to beat anyone after committing three official errors, with other misplays going unpunished by the official scorer due to technicalities (like Cody Ross colliding with Aubrey Huff on that pop fly in foul territory in the first inning that, had Huff caught, would have ended the inning).
On Tuesday night, the two best Giants defenders were an injured Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt, a first baseman playing left field. Chris Stewart’s an inconsistent defender, sometimes making glorious throws and other times flinging balls like the one into right-center in the 7th that Jeff Keppinger made look even worse by not even moving his glove hand toward the ball, if even for show. Then Keppinger (a very mediocre defender who can barely man second base — if Freddy Sanchez is healthy I recommend staying as far away from Kepp’s Molina-esque speed if at all possible in 2012) made a poor throw to home that, had Stewart handled the short-hop, would have saved a run.
When your three best hitters (Sandoval, Nate Schierholtz and Carlos Beltran, who’s a situational righty off the bench these days) are hurt, you can’t give away runs. You also can’t complain when the umpires supposedly conspire against you. If Aubrey Huff would have fielded that grounder cleanly to start the 2nd inning, perhaps Matt Cain gets credit for brushing first base with his toe and Kyle Blanks hits a solo home run — instead of a 2-run shot a few minutes later. But it wasn’t as if the Padres played a perfect game and the Giants got screwed. They scored two runs on perhaps the game’s worst play in a contest full of terrible throws and decisions, the foot-shuffling exhibition and even worse throw by Jesus Guzman in the 6th.
Most complaints regarding the Giants’ lack of execution have centered around situational hitting struggles by guys like Aaron Rowand, who left five on base tonight. But as much as I’ve argued against Rowand’s freedom, at least he didn’t collide with the first baseman and uncork a terrible throw in the ninth like Cody Ross.
And what happens as the game draws to a close? People complain about Ramon Ramirez, even though he gave up the first runs the bullpen has surrendered after 12 consecutive scoreless innings — without their two best relievers! It’s impossible to expect or demand perfection, but the Giants have no margin for error. Their Opening Day lineup? Gone. The lineup they hoped for in September? In smoke. The best bullpen in baseball? A twinkle in Dr. James Andrews’ eye. Right now the Giants are a starting rotation and the hope that they can out-execute the opposition on a nightly basis. And far too often lately they’ve looked like they did tonight: a sloppy team full of guys looking around, hoping for better performances from the few healthy teammates they have left.