Even when the Giants win lately there’s some weird issue – an HBP directly on the thumb sidelines Brandon Belt, plays that should be routine for a first baseman in little league bungled by Michael Morse, nutty throwing errors by Pablo or, an injury by someone trying too hard, like Angel Pagan’s shoulder strain diving for a pop fly against the Marlins on Sunday.
The latter category still reminds me of how we lost Freddy Sanchez, in May, on a routine play when we had the lead in a game that “didn’t really matter.” He flew high and hard to snag that ball, landed on his shoulder and never played in a Giants uniform again. Or how about Pagan last year, legs out the only ever walkoff inside-the-park homer in history and we lose him, and the season,the next day. Again … in May.
Of course, we love effort and those plays are exciting … how about just a little caution in the early months, guys? Not telling you to take it easy, but … what happened last night was completely unnecessary.
Yet they continue to win. The team experiences these careening moments even as they slug and claw their way into come-from behind victories; doing it with all home runs one game, and sudden inspired situational hitting, and no home runs in the next.
The only consistency has been that the Giants are inconsistent, yet somehow pull it together in the later innings behind a great bullpen to get wins. It isn’t confidence inspiring with regard to a long season, and the anhedonia has resulted in at least one blogger, Grant Brisbee of McCovey Cove Chronicles, losing his mind to the duality.
Yesterday, in Colorado, things were going along just fine – the game plan was in place and the Giants and Matt Cain were holding the Rockies offense down, when all of a sudden Cain came up gimpy. He had to be pulled from the game in the third inning with a strained hamstring, forcing Yusmeiro Petit into yet another emergency start. Worrisome.
Still, the plan was working. The Giants bullpen, with Petit working long, held the Rockies scoreless through seven innings. On the offensive side meanwhile, they used the altitude to their advantage and Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Crawford all homered, while Hector Sanchez had a deep double for another RBI. They had an early lead and held on.
Petit threw three scoreless and Bochy once again was masterful with the ‘pen; using four more guys to seal the win. Juan Gutierrez, Javier Lopez (LOOGY), and Santiago Casilla took it to the ninth.
In the top of the ninth, with a four-run lead and Sergio Romo resting after having been rocked the night before, Bochy decided to leave Casilla in the game at the plate, with the intention of letting him close the game.
Casilla was given specific instruction when he went to the plate, alternatingly described as, ‘to just stand like a statue,’ and ‘not to get hurt.’ Bochy says he told him just to jog up the line if he made contact.
But the veteran Casilla did none of these. Apparently inspired by the play of Juan Machi a few weeks ago, who legged out a bunt to drive in the winning run in a 13-inning game, Santiago Casilla tried to get on base. He was perhaps goaded by the dugout, as the guys teased him about doing what Machi did. For whatever reason, Casilla hit a ball hard to the infield and in, a totally loony moment, tried to leg out the single!
Casilla hit the bag and fell to the grass immediately, thrown out and flailing in the grass, pounding his fist on the ground in obvious pain. First base coach Hensley Meulens had no idea what to make of it.
It turns out that like Matt Cain earlier in the game, Casilla had strained his right hamstring. It was the same pointless injury that sent reliever David Huff to the DL two weeks ago – a pitcher trying to leg out a single.
Jeremy Affeldt came in and pitched a scoreless ninth with a strikeout to end the game, a non-save situation. But the mood was severely depressed in the wake of losing not one, but two pitchers to hamstring strains in the same game.
The win kept the Giants in first place in the NL West by three games going into tonight’s rubber match, which will feature the two teams’ best pitchers. The Giants’ aging ace, Tim Hudson (4-2, 2.09) returns from resting his back on the DL, to face Jorge De La Rosa (5-3, 4.14), a longtime nemesis of the G-men.
Both Casilla and Cain will undergo MRI’s today to determine the severity of their injuries, but it seems likely that Cain will miss at least one start and that Casilla may not be available for a few weeks; frustrating to say the least. [UPDATE: looks like Casilla’s was a strain and not a tear, so that’s good]
Hopefully the Giants can come away with one more win in Colorado before the upcoming home stand which could be an easier ride. The Twins are up first and the Giants seem to play Interleague well at home, having swept the Indians in April. The Twins will be followed at AT&T by a visit from the last place Cubs.