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We have endured the East Coast and LA bias from national networks for so long they’re irrelevant to us. In fact sometimes it feels better to ride the role of underdog, knowing we have the most experienced, smartest and most tightly knit coaching staff in all the majors.
The mainstream sports media and the hulking brutes of NYC and Chicago always count us out. They have no comprehension of the nuances of the game or teamwork.
They counted us out when we were chasing the D-Backs in ’10 and again vs. the then-Champion Phillies and again in the World Series – even after seeing what MadBum, Timmy and the Beard could do. Not to mention the quietly peerless Buster Posey.
They counted us out when Melky went down for PED use, and we all agreed WE wouldn’t allow him back for the playoffs – though we could have – but rather try to soldier on. This one is always my favorite of the three, because of Pablo’s 3HR, with two off Verlander (him saying “wow,” watching the second one go out – best bad ball hitter ever: Pablo Sandoval). How Romo dismissed Cabrera is maybe my favorite SFGiants WS moment ever.
Then in 2014, they counted us out as a wild card has-been! and we just Madbummed the shit out of them. They counted us out against the Darlings of the Nation and we sent MadBum out to finish them off in their house.
So we are USED to being the ones counted OUT.
But what we know is different. We know we have Rags, Skip, Bam-Bam and Wotus in place. We know that losing Flan for the more conservative Kelly is really just an adjustment, not a loss. We have a Hall of Fame manager who has been through it all.
We know these guys know how to win with their backs against the wall. We know if we just get in to the playoffs, we have as a good a chance as any and a better chance than most because we have CHAMPIONS BLOOD.
I for one, believe that the moves we made are good moves. It hurts so much to have lost Vogey and Petit and Duffy. It hurts a LOT.
But I understand what Evans and Sabean are trying to do and I approve. These are aggressive and expensive moves – Samardzija and Cueto were $90million! We’ve never paid that kinda money for two players before. Duffy was just awesome in Panda’s place for a critical WS series year and more. But I get the trade. Getting the right puzzle pieces is hella expensive.
Here’s what I know: they can’t win if we don’t believe.
and I do.
I believe in this team of managers, coaches and players. I think the new guys need to tune in to a culture of winning and realize that petty losses should be dumped immediately. This is a tightrope walk, not whack-a-mole.
I know Posey, Pence, Bcraw, Belt, Panik, Pagan, D-Span, Nunez and our pitchers that rake can get out of this slump and start producing like the machine they were earlier in the season. It’s all about getting hot at the right time and we have the machine that can do that.
We dispensed with injuries to Pence and Panik and Pagan early so they are ready and playing well.
We dealt for better – read more experienced – pitching help for the bullpen and starters. We’re doing all the right things.
(EXCEPT I STILL REALLY THINK WE OUGHTA BAT THE SP IN THE 8 SPOT AND LET PAGAN AND D-SPAN BECOME BACK-TO-BACK LEADOFF HITTERS).
Anyway, all that is left is:
for us to believe and
for the guys to never quit.
so, guys? …. Never Quit.
3B, baseball, baseman, best, Bochy, Bruce, cain, Casey, coach, coaching, Cody, deadline, duffy, Francisco, giants, Hudson, hunter, Jake, marco, matt, McGehee, mlb, Moore, Pabl, Peavy, pence, pitchers, Romo, Ross, Ryan, San, Sandoval, scutaro, Sergio, sf, smith, staff, theriot, third, Tim, trade, Will
A lot of fans were emotional yesterday upon hearing the news the SF Giants had traded Matt Duffy, but I was surprised long-time fan Grant Brisbee was among them – he practically wept. I figured old guys like us were used to the business of baseball and would leap to the evaluation of the statistics of the swap – which he did of course, through his tears.
Me, I found the trade an excellent use of a system we’ve developed with great effort and the right balance of stats and human evaluation in the near-decade since Barry Lamar stalked off into the sunset of post-Giants life.
Sure, I’ll miss Matt Duffy, but he only played for us for two years. It was an intense and impressive couple of years because he had to step into Pablo Sandoval’s big shoes, but I don’t grow that attached to players that fast no matter who they are. It takes me a while to want to make someone “untouchable,” as Posey and Bumgarner are.
Actually, I can remember when fans – terrified about the absence of Panda and failure of McGehee – wanted to trade Matt Duffy for a “real third baseman,” in his rookie year.
And speaking of Panda – a home grown third baseman who was with us through three World Series wins and instrumental in at least one – I do and will miss the Pablo we all loved: an incredible Giant, with huge personality, beloved for his simple, crazy humanity.
Besides, I know Matt Duffy has a long career ahead of him and will excel wherever he plays. I will be watching this guy for a few years to come and heck, he could end up back with us with the way the business of baseball works.
We have done what we set out to do. We have grown our talent at home and added missing pieces to create championship teams, not once, but thrice in the last six years. It has been a stunning achievement, and I think a lot of fans have taken the subtle moves for granted.
It was inevitable that at least one or two or even some of all this home grown talent would have to be used as chips to gain the missing pieces needed. In this case we gave up a lot to get the specific missing elements of our pitching staff, and I for one, am glad we had the guts and aggressiveness to go all-in.
I do not know if Matt Moore and Will Smith are the answer, but I DO know that once they get in Buster Posey’s capable hands for the month of August they’re likely to be much better prepared for a championship run than they have ever been in their lives.
What the Giants have done these last six years is almost unheard of in the modern era. We have kept our coaching staff intact, core players aboard in Posey, Bumgarner, Cain, Lopez and Romo. Turned homegrown talent such as The Brandons, Crawford and Belt, into All-Stars and snagged and locked-up Hunter Pence.
We managed Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco in balance with rotating OFs. We squeezed the last bits of greatness from Cody Ross, Marco Scutaro, Ryan Theriot, Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson.
We’ve had great coaching at farm club levels resulting in consistently good play from rookies and newcomers to the team. Bruce Bochy is a first-ballot Hall of Fame Manager at this point, and his staff, again mostly intact (MISS YOU, FLAN!) are an amazing group.
If we had rested on our laurels and not made a trade for the essential relief and starting pitching support we needed, I’m not sure we could beat this year’s Cubs. Now I feel we have a legitimate shot not only to achieve that in Bochy vs. Maddon I, but go on to win it all.
Matt, you were a great Giant and that is what made you valuable and in-demand. We will miss you and I wish you all the best in Tampa. I am confident you will excel. I hear you are returning to SS and it must be cool to be with your Dirtbag mentor, Evan Longoria. Enjoy yourself and knock ’em dead.
Meanwhile, turning back to August …
Welcome aboard Matt Moore and Will Smith. Get your gear from Murph, perk up and pay attention. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND LISTENING TO BUSTER POSEY.
Let’s all pull it together and go out there and Even-Year-the-Shit-Outta-This-Thing.
After beating the Marlins 4-1 Sunday the Giants flew directly to Denver and checked into their hotels so as to enjoy as much of their day off yesterday as possible. Ryan Vogelsong’s strong outing made the home stand a winning one and kept the Giants three ahead of Colorado in the NL West standings. The rest was much needed.
The Giants are ready to get back to baseball tonight against the red hot Rockies who boast three of the top five best hitters for average in Justin Morneau, Charlie Blackmon and Troy Tulowitski. Tulo leads the league in average (.393) and Home Runs (13) and is third in RBIs.
Tulowitski’s line is staggering: .494 OBS/.764 SLG/1.259 OPS and he leads in every category by a wide margin including Wins Against Replacement. His 4.5 (WAR) is way beyond. The Denver Post has a nice article about Tulo today.
The Rockies have tasted first place in the NL West already this year and could tie for the lead with a sweep. They’ve been blasting the ball and have hit 62 homers as a team. They beat the Giants in Colorado on April 22 of this year on the strength of five homers and they smashed five in Cincy on the 10th to beat the Reds.
The Rockies clubhouse was struck by a viral infection which sent Catcher Wilin Rosario to the DL, but he has been reactivated from the injury list.
Madison Bumgarner pitches for the Giants tonight, followed by Matt Cain tomorrow night. Tim Hudson will likely be returning to the starting lineup for Thursday’s day game. Hudson missed his last start and was sent to the DL to rest a sore right hip, but has been throwing on flat ground since Saturday and will throw bullpen today.
Angel Pagan is listed day-to-day for the series because of his left shoulder, which he sprained diving for a ball in the last Marlins game.
Pablo Sandoval has begun hitting, stepping up in the absence of Brandon Belt. His solo homer yesterday was nice to see. His nine game hitting streak could include more long balls in the altitude of Coors Field. Let’s hope so.
Game 1: Giants 8, Nationals 0
Ryan Vogelsong came out of his slump and got the win, but then had his hand broken when hit by a pitch and will be out 6 – 8 weeks. But it was a good outing til then.
Game 2: Giants 4, Nationals 2
Pablo Sandoval’s walkoff two-run homer in the 10th ended this one. Affeldt got the win.
Game 3:Giants 1, Nationals 2
Affeldt took the loss in the 10th. Bumgarner had a great outing but the Giants couldn’t score enough.
AT&T, ATL, atlanta, baseball, braves, Bumgarner, cain, cards, chip, corner, Francisco, giants, kiss, Lincecum, mlb, pagan, park, pence, Posey, recap, San, Sandoval, scutaro, series, sf, shoulder, St.Louis, triple, vogelsong
Save for Ryan Vogelsong’s fifth inning implosion that lost game one of these four with the Atlanta Braves, this series was a smile that became a grin as everything from starting pitching to batting came together.
Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum were all dominant in their performances against the Braves, limiting them to less than a single handful of runs spread across three days and quieting the bats of the Upton family and McCann, Uggla and the Braves’ vaunted rookie Andrelton Simmons.
Only Ryan Vogelsong’s mechanical issues marred what was otherwise an ideal rotation for San Francisco. It might be time to consider changing the order and moving Vogey up to third, so Zito falls between Vogey and Lincecum. I think Vogelsong is suffering for some reason by being in a different position in the order than last year. GBC proposes:
Cain Bumgarner, Vogelsong, Zito, Lincecum
– which alternates lefties as well.
The other starters were golden: Matt Cain found his groove. Bumgarner was typically consistent and had a season-high 11 strikeouts in beating the Braves for the first time in his young career. Tim Lincecum struck out seven and felt he was hitting spots he had been seeking for some weeks, calling it a good start. The team backed him up with three home runs, making the start considerably more comfortable.
Because the starters went so deep, the relievers weren’t needed as much in the last three games. But Lopez, Affeldt and Kontos did their jobs well. Romo picked up another save.
Santiago Casilla is needing more rest and it makes sense. I said at the beginning of the year that as a member of the World Baseball Classic Champion Dominicanas, Casilla has played more intense ball than most this spring. We should give him as many days off as possible.
Chad Gaudin could be a problem. He doesn’t look like he has command. Bay City Ball and BASG have commented on this recently as well.
wow. multiple home runs including a splash hit on Mother’s Day by Pablo Sandoval, homers by Scutaro, Belt.
Gregor Blanco took over the platoon from Torres amidst game two of the series – starting off as a pinch hitter – and immediately went 2 for 2 and drove in four runs. He was excited to play and ready to go. This platoon reminds me of the one Affeldt and Lopez were in as lefty relievers in 2010 – each pushing the other to perform better.
Against Atlanta, El Tiburon Blanco was 3 for 9 with a double and a triple and he drove in five runs. Torres got rest and some time to calm down, which seems to be an issue when he plays too many games in a row.
Pablo, Pence, Posey and Pagan are all hitting. It looks like it’s straight out of the playbook: leadoff hits, sac flies and bunts to move runners, steals here and there, doubling in runners in scoring position, homers!
Belt is finding his groove. Brandon Crawford cooled a little, but had a double and a couple of rbi’s versus Maholm in Game 3. Marco Scutaro is right back on track. Giants hitting looked GREAT against Atlanta – scored 26 runs over four days!
A turning point series in that we lost out of the gate but then turned it around to win the next three. The team seemed fit and in tune. We now own the second best record in the National League. But the team I have been most afraid of since the beginning of the year, the St. Louis Cardinals, are still better.
The Cards look a lot like us in form and came into our house and took the home opening series. They have a chip on their shoulder: the Triple Kiss that got by poor Pete Kozma.
Right now I am most concerned about our abilities against the Cards, Reds and Nats.
Great game. Bumgarner made it a taut chess match til the late innings, and Pablo Sandoval took advantage of J.J. Putz.
Here’s the game winning, two-run homer by Clutch-Fu Panda
An excellent game in which everything came together to end in a walkoff double by Angel Pagan and the Giants win 3-2. Buster Posey had a deep double, which hopefully will help him up out of his slump.
Bochy pulled Bumgarner in the 6th, middle and late relief did their job, and Santiago Casilla got the win.
Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Crawford, sadly, had their 11-game hit streaks ended, but this one was Giants Baseball all the way.
Way to go Giants!
Pablo Sandoval had four RBI.
Nick Noonan had another clutch pinch hit.
Brandon Crawford was brilliant in the field and great at the plate.
The bullpen was solid – Ryan Braun was 0 for 5 and struck out four times for the first time in his career … which apparently is called a “golden sombrero” …
but it just wasn’t enough to make up for Barry Zito getting shellacked for eight runs in the third, including a grand slam home run by Betancourt.
Still, a lot of fight in these Giants, they nearly pulled it off.
16, 2013, angeles, Arias, Arizona, baseball, Bumgarner, cain, Cardinals, Casilla, champion, chavez, classic, corner, diamondbacks, dodgers, Francisco, George, giants, gold, hunter, inning, Joaquin, Kershaw, Kontos, Lincecum, los, Louis, Madison, matt, mlb, opening, pablo, pence, platinum, ravine, recap, reliever, Romo, San, Sandoval, santiago, Sergio, series, solid, St., stellar, Tim, world
It took a perfect outing from one of the best lefties in baseball – including the first home run he ever hit in his life – to mar what was otherwise an excellent opening series for the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants looked crisp off the mound and decent at the plate, hitting in rotation situationally and even manufacturing runs. The biggest issue at the plate is we are once again on pace to lead the league in hitting into double plays! But it’s early and that stuff will hopefully start to winnow out. Pitching – particularly Cain, Bumgarner and Romo – was stellar.
The Giants won the series 2-1 over their NL West division rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers to take an early season lead in what will likely be a fight for first place in the division with Arizona. The Diamondbacks made a statement in last night’s game – a scrappy, hard-fought, come-from-behind, 16-inning win over the St. Louis Cardinals to start their season 2-1 as well.
Starting pitchers did not allow a single earned run.
Cain was, typically, Big Horse consistent and stable. Bumgarner was intensely precise and Lincecum used balls and walks liberally, but stayed on top of his game.
Madison Bumgarner’s performance was platinum. He had tight, controlled movement and dominated the Dodger lineup. It was great to see from the young, powerful Big Country Mad Bum.
Bruce Bochy showed smart sensitivity pulling Cain in the first game. Cain and Lincecum are the eldest on our very young staff, and both got pulled before the 7th. This is how to develop middle and late relief and to protect starters’ arms over the long season.
Over the course of the last two years Bochy has slowly shown an increasing willingness to use the bullpen rather than risk fatigue – either of arms in the long term or of minds on the mound in the short term – with our starting pitching. This has culminated in the masterful use of a committee of late relief and closers last year down the stretch.
It’s important because our most significant problem (as pointed out most clearly by Bay City Ball) is depth at Starting Pitching. If one of our big 5 goes down, we’d have to adapt fast.
That said, poor George Kontos …
shake it off homes. freak swing by the opposing pitcher.
Before that Kontos had an excellent 7th inning and looked ready to work the middle and pass the ball over to one of our capable lefties before Romo. It was a shame it shook out like that. We believe in you George, it was a solid outing before the guy decided he wanted to make history in LA.
In a way George, we needed you to take that hit because a LOT of us really don’t want Matt Cain getting any more losses in tight games than he has to. The poor guy has suffered his entire career with win-loss records beleaguered by our inability to produce runs. You took those runs that night so Matty wouldn’t get them and the loss and we appreciate it.
Casilla’s wild pitch, Lincecum’s, others’ can be chalked up to the season being very young and we should be honest and expect more sloppy working it out in the first month or so.
In Casilla’s case especially, the guy is coming off winning the World Baseball Championship – The Dominicans ran the table! and he was overwrought and excellent in relief. (Haft has details on Casilla’s effort).
The guy has played more ball under pressure than most this year – Casilla gets a one month pass.
(DR vs. Japan would’ve been interesting)
Casilla’sWP:coming off winning the WBC,beating PR to do it,more ball under pressure than most this year – Casilla gets a one month pass.
Sergio Romo was SOLID GOLD. and he tweeted throughout including one which read that his “goal” was 50 saves! That was exciting to read.
I hope you make it my man … That’s What’s Up!
Shutdown performance by Kershaw was followed by a solid job of hitting by the Giants in game 2, specifically by Joaquin Arias, but as YahooSports pointed out “The Giants scored their first run on three consecutive one-out hits, including Arias’ RBI single.”
Situational hitting and manufacturing runs was the story of the offense and this continued to game three when Crawford and Pagan joined in on the action. But the team added homers by Pablo and Pence! Thrilling stuff to see the offense coming together – power, contact, base-running (I’m excluding el caballero loco on that last one). Pagan leading off, Scutaro, Pablo and Posey behind him is going to work well.
The problem remains that too often the Giants destroyed opportunities by hitting into double plays. It is the beginning of the season and on any other team I wouldn’t bat an eye, but we have a historic problem that reaches back several years in this regard. Maybe bunt practice in order to take advantage of squeeze chances would help in other situations as well. If we aren’t going get a lot of hits, or score a lot of runs we have to at least keep runners on the paths and continue to manufacture runs as we have been doing the last year and change.
With Brandon Belt falling sick, Bochy had a chance to do more moving of the chess pieces. Arias on first and Sanchez behind the plate yielded and didn’t, had succeses and problems, but more I was happy to see this kind of constant moving about of players. I am of the mind we need a flexible team offensive scheme.
(Hec or Bus)ter at plate
Belt, Posey, Arias or Panda at first
Arias, Panda or Scutaro at third
Blanco or Torres in LF.
It’s flex-offense. I love Bochy for this team approach and have no problem with half a season going by with pieces moving in concert or individually to suit opponent, weather, interleague and etc. I have come around on this. Used to chew my nails to shreds over Bochy’s calls, now I see a logic in it. We can recreate units to suit. Cool.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Brandon Crawford also known as @bcraw35 continues to rock short. Golden Glove campaign [BCrawGG13] required.
Hunter Pence still looks like a crazy-eyed wild man going after balls. I trust him … and yet … it makes me nuts to see Pence and Pagan still doing the chipmunk act from the old Looney Tunes cartoons .. “After you.” “No, After You. “No I insist.” (ball drops to the field). I know Pence has only been out there a few months for us, but he and Pagan have to work that out because problems we saw last year continue. Pagan manhandled CF again. LF hardly saw any action at all so the platoon was untested.
All told an excellent series for the Giants and a great way to launch Giants Baseball Corner. I will be posting Series Wrap-ups like this whether I post full series game for game or not. Feel free to comment, feedback etc. best is on TWITTER, in my opinion.
Sorry to everybody but particularly to Julian for over tweeting while getting GBC set up.
All are welcome here where we are focused on the relentless flow of the positive river.
The San Francisco Giants OWNed major league baseball’s All-Star Game.
Our pitcher started, was best and got the win (Matt Cain),
our big bat (Pablo Sandoval) got the only triple with bases loaded ever scored in the history of the All Star Game, scoring three,
the first of whom was our best hitter for average (Melky Cabrera) who won the MVP going 2 for 3, with 2 runs and 2 RBI, had the game’s only HR, and was the first and last man across home plate.
Together We’re Giant
[this was the Championship Season, August, amidst Lincecum’s first crash]
First Pitch 1:06pm – Indian Summer began with a heat wave and the warm weather seems to correlate directly with baseballs sailing out of AT&T Park.
The Giants, a great pitching team that struggled to produce three or four runs a game in San Francisco‘s foggy, cool summers, had, with the heat, flipped the script, smashing the ball against the surging, Central Division-leading Reds – scoring 27 runs in the first two night games to win 16-5 and 11-2. It was the beginning of a home-run fiesta that would carry the Giants to the playoffs.
Headed into the city on BART that morning after the long-ball fest of the two previous nights, we met lots of Giants fans looking for a sweep.
We all talked about how the day game would be even warmer, and hoped Giants bats would stay hot. More than once we heard the refrain: “I wish they’d save some of those runs and scatter them across a few games.”
We were excited to see Madison Bumgarner, the newest member of the starting rotation, a tall, strong 21-year old with big-time game. It would also be my first time seeing the Reds’ Joey Votto live. He didn’t disappoint.
In the first, with two men down, Votto blasted a two-run homer. Worse, his was followed by back-to-back solo shots by Jonny Gomes and Ryan Hanigan that got out of the park in a hurry. The Reds shelled Bumgarner mercilessly before that last out. Reds 4, Giants 0.
Though the Giants were down big before they’d even had a chance to bat, my son, the woman to my right, her son (wearing a floppy-eared Panda hat) and I all agreed not to let it bother us. Giants batters were coming off 27 runs in two nights! Pandahat favored Aubrey Huff.
Yes, game we were, in the face of four runs, and, as if to prove us and the whole universe true, Bumgarner settled down in the second, and in the bottom half Jose Guillen singled to left, was advanced to second by a Sandoval base hit (much to Pandahat’s excitement) and to third by an Uribe sac-fly. The Giants chiseled him across the plate from third on a Freddy Sanchez single. Reds 4, Giants 1.
But in the top of the third, the 21-year-old Bumgarner lost it with two outs again. Rolen doubled, Gomes singled, Hanigan walked on a full count and Drew Stubbs tripled to clear the bases. Just like that it was seven to nothing. Ugh.
Then, just when we thought it couldn’t possibly get worse, the poor kid blew it like I haven’t seen since Little League.
With two outs, three men in, and Stubbs standing on third, Righetti and Bochy decided to intentionally walk Paul Janish to set up the force out at second, first or home.
So picture it: runner on third. catcher Buster Posey standing up, glove-arm extended. The ump’s got his hands on his hips. Janish at the plate is barely even in his stance – holding the bat in a relaxed posture awaiting his walk.
And then suddenly, Madison Bumgarner throws a wild pitch on an intentional ball! Missed Buster entirely! And Stubbs scores from third on an E1. Reds 8, Giants 1.
I had no idea what to say. Talk about brain freeze. I looked at my son between the top and bottom of the inning, speechless. I ran through the list of clichés out loud:
“Hey you know, there’s no clock in baseball, it’s the most changeable sport, anything could happen. A coupla runs here, a solid inning in relief there and a couple-few more runs, and we’re right back in this thing.”
It was weak, but the woman to my left chimed in appropriately and together, we showed strength in the face of adversity to the boys – but not before she leaned over and whispered “I wish they’d saved some of those runs from yesterday to scatter across a few games.”
Then again, torturously, with two outs in the fourth, in his first at-bat against our new right-hander Ramon Ramirez, Joey Votto homered for the second time. It was impressive. He worked the count against the second pitcher he’d face that day and calmly jacked a solo shot to left. Votto already had two big flies and three batted in. Reds 9, Giants 1.
When the Giants failed to score in the bottom of the fourth, a lot of people left, but the woman to my right and her son stayed. They minded our stuff as we took a quick walk down to concessions to see if it might change our luck. My son flipped his hat round, the first of many rally caps I’d see that day. We never leave games, but this one just got worse.
In the fifth, with two outs, Ramirez walked Stubbs, then issued a back-to-back, full count walk to Janish and finally capped his performance by yielding a single to the pitcher, Homer Bailey, scoring Stubbs.
Santiago Casilla came in to get the last out and stood on the mound facing people’s backs as they climbed the steps to scramble out, and a frustrated remaining crowd. In a tension-relieving moment akin to broken glass Casilla then beaned Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips.
It was inadvertent, but took Philips out of the game, clearly bothered, in the sixth. Casilla then just took a strikeout, so his box reads: one beaning and one strikeout in a third of an inning’s work! That was enough for our seatmates, who bolted up the steps – Panda ears a-flappin’.
And that was how the Giants got down ten to one in the first five innings of a game we now refer to as one of the greatest comeback performances in SF Giants history.
When the Giants came up to bat in the fifth down ten to one, there were maybe 20,000 of us left, enjoying a rare, hot day at the park. It was a gorgeous Wednesday afternoon and there really wasn’t a better place to be in SF. Oh, the waning light in Indian Summer, then, like a consolation gift to us for staying.
Giants recent acquisition Mike Fontenot drew a lead-off walk and Andres Torres singled and then – what, what? – Aubrey Huff advanced both to scoring position with a grounder. When Pat Burrell singled to right to bring in two runs, we made noise. Reds 10, Giants 3.
All year, our expensive left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt – whom we’d signed last year to a two-year, nine million dollar deal – has struggled in relief. He seemed as likely to throw a wild pitch as a strike. When he entered the game in the sixth, I felt Manager Bruce Bochy and Pitching Coach Dave Righetti had given up on this one.
I assumed they were happy taking two of three from the Reds over the week and had decided to use this opportunity to help some guys who’ve been struggling work out kinks. I had resigned myself to watching Affeldt fail before he even threw a pitch and even prepared my son for it.
Affeldt had taken a beating in the press and been shown up significantly by left-handed acquisition Javier Lopez, a specialist, whom the Giants pay one tenth of his salary. Affeldt watched Lopez enter games in pressure situations just days before – in San Diego and at home – and end them with less than ten pitches. It must have been a blow to his ego.
Affeldt stepped up and closed out the sixth without giving up a hit. Three up, three down. An electricity passed through us. None of our guys want to be the one not carrying his weight. Anybody who loves effort and was at AT&T Park that day fell in love with this team.
In the sixth, Juan Uribe hit a one-out single to short, just beating the tag. Nate Schierholtz – pinch hitting for Affeldt who’d done his job – smashed a double to right, sending Uribe to third. After five and two-thirds, the Reds pulled Bailey with a seven-run lead and brought Bill Bray in relief.
It was Bray’s wild pitch that made everybody sit up. It was a parallel to Bumgarner’s run-scoring wild pitch in the first – karma. This one brought Uribe home and sent Schierholtz to third. Fontenot then stepped up with one down and grounded out to second, allowing Schierholtz to cross the plate. Reds 10, Giants 5.
Now, the vibe in the building was palpably “no-hitterish“. It was ten to five. Nobody wanted to talk about a comeback for fear of jinxing it. But there was an excitement after that wild pitch – like maybe the Reds were more vulnerable in relief.
We were all two days full of recent memories of towering homers by Posey and Uribe and Burrell – could the Giants come back? I wondered what Kruk, Kuip and Jon were talking about. [still haven’t heard what I’m told is an epic broadcast].
In the seventh, the Reds brought Logan Ondrusek in relief of Bray, Sergio Romo pitched for the Giants, and both pitchers held.
Still down five now in the top of the eighth, the Giants brought closer Brian Wilson in early to keep the Giants within reach. Wilson, who would go on to end the season with a major-league leading 48 saves is our nutty backstop – crazy as a loon, but who knows how to finish.
Again. In Wilson, we felt the fight in this team. The unwillingness to just rollover and call it a day because you’re down.
We went to the bottom of the eighth inning trailing by five runs, but having crept back to within striking distance against the Reds bullpen. Has there ever been a more exciting inning played by an SF team than the Giants eighth that day? That’s for historians to decide, but it was the craziest Giant inning I’ve ever seen live, hands down.
Guillen leads off with a single to left, and then Sandoval, to center – runners in the corners for Juan “One-Swing-of-the-Bat” Uribe. <BLAM> three run homer. Nobody out. Ondrusek done. Reds 10, Giants 8.
The Reds, suddenly only up two, scramble. Massive substitutions. Helsey in at left, Bruce at right and Arthur Rhodes on the mound to set up Cordero, the closer. It was crunch time and we, long-suffering Giant fans – desperately searching for situational hitting and run support – watched five of our guys make it happen.
Ross and Fontenot hit back to back singles to left and Torres jumped on a Rhodes change-up, smacking a stand-up double to the same part of the park, scoring both. Reds 10, Giants 10. And then in two quick at-bats against Rhodes, Posey and Huff earned sac-flies to bring Torres home, sliding to the plate to beat the throw. The Giants lead 11 to 10.
Wow. The place went crazy. My seven-year old was high-fiving seventy-year olds! It may have been the smallest standing ovation the Giants will ever receive, but it was unequaled in sincerity.
When I looked around it was apparent that since the fifth some fans had returned, or maybe had come in from a downtown bar to catch what they were seeing on TV or hearing about in the streets or on the radio – The Greatest Comeback in Giants History.
Now, there is some dispute about what constitutes a Great Comeback. To me, it isn’t a comeback unless you win. There are many who share this opinion. This definition dominates the view presented by the mainstream sports press. But for some, a comeback is defined by effort, as measured by the difference in the lead you make: if you were down by a hundred but lost by only two, it must have been a really amazing game, and you must have made superhuman effort though you took the loss.
I find this definition of a comeback without victory to be suspect in sports with only two opponents. Because, where in a foot race, it applies to the difference between second’s finish versus third’s in relation to first (and more importantly fourths distance from third), it makes no real sense where only two are competing against each other.
That said, the ten runs made up by the Giants to take the lead was the greatest deficit overcome in Giants history. We were exhilarated. The relief of tension was palpable. We all felt special. It was incredible. We were going to sweep the Reds, scoring almost 40 runs in three days. The elders behind us and my son were just glowing in the late afternoon light . . .
It’s a shame home games don’t last just eight innings. There’s those last three pesky outs to get. Even after a huge comeback achieved as a team, you have to stay focused … and seize the win. To me, that’s what makes it a comeback.
Now, here a word must be inserted about Pablo Sandoval. I was at a local pub the other night watching the game when Sandoval made the throwing error by sending the ball home with a force out at every bag without stepping on third, preventing a double play from ending the inning – a mental slip that allowed a run to score later and lose the game for the Giants- when a patron beside me said he blamed the marketing department for Pablo’s problems.
That was when I put it together. The Marketing department, desperate to replace Barry Bonds with a ‘batting persona’ forced the 23-year old Sandoval to become The Panda. And went nuts making Panda suits, hats, bobblies, glasses, mats, key chains, stuffies and everything else. Did anyone in marketing notice that our strength is pitching and that we need team play and contact hitters? It was undue pressure to put on Pablo Sandoval.
I enjoy shouting out to the players in encouragement when I am sitting low enough to be heard. We were just up the first base line behind the Reds dugout for this one and in the third I can remember shouting to Freddy Sanchez as he awaited a pitch with Panda on first, “Hey, Freddy, You got ‘em, man! They can’t touch you!”
Pablo, standing on first, turned, pointed at me from first with two black-gloved fingers and shouted, “That’s Right!” My son was thrilled. Freddy hit into a double play. It felt like poor Pablo was cursed.
With one out in the top of the ninth and the Giants up 11 to 10 after coming back from being down 10 to 1, the greatest comeback in Giants history, Brian Wilson delivered and the Reds’ Drew Stubbs hit a routine grounder to Sandoval. I was sitting right behind first base. I looked right at him. He scooped it up and had plenty of time.
For a second, I thought I saw his eyes looking right at us. And then I watched his right arm just go screwy and his face turn. The ball flew way wide of Huff at first and into the grass in front of the dugout. Stubbs, thinking it was going to be a routine out, hadn’t really come close to first, so he turned the corner and turned on the speed, arriving standing at second.
It was a two-base throwing error on Pablo Sandoval that put the tying run in scoring position and the fifth Giant error of the game. Moments later, Wilson gave up the single to Janish that scored Stubbs. He then got the final out. Reds 11, Giants 11.
The Reds had turned to Nick Masset to finish their debacle of an eighth, which the right-hander ended with a strikeout. Now, he manhandled the Giants in the ninth, striking out three. The Giants’ Javier Lopez, la specialista, entered in the tenth and true to form made quick work of the Reds. Again, it felt like Lopez didn’t want to be shown up by Affeldt, didn’t want to be responsible for failing when called upon.
I mean this in a good way.
Not like guys competing for jobs, but like comrades in struggle. In the eleventh, Bochy leaned on Lopez to extend and the specialist held the meat of the Reds lineup to just one hit. Meanwhile, Manager Dusty Baker and the Reds turned the ball over to their excellent closer Francisco Cordero.
The Giants wouldn‘t score in the tenth or eleventh, but we got the thrill of seeing a scoreboard I don’t think I’ll ever see live again – Eleven to Eleven in the Bottom of the Eleventh.
Arriving at the top of the twelfth, exhausted of left-handed relievers, I looked down to see Barry Zito trotting out to the mound. Bochy probably thought he had no other choice. Maybe he thought it would help the slumping Zito get back some lost confidence. But there was starter Barry Zito on short rest, entering a tied game in the 12th inning in relief.
Janish singled to left, then Matt Cairo doubled to center sending Janish to third. With two on, nobody out in the twelfth inning of a midweek day-game, the last of a series in August, against the Central Division leader, and a failing Zito on the mound, these Giants refused to die.
The next batter, Chris Helsey, hit a sharp grounder to Uribe hoping to at last get the winning RBI. Janish sprinted for home, but the hard-charging Uribe scooped it up and threw a bullet to Posey at the plate, in time to get the sliding Janish. We roared.
It was still 11 to 11. But now it was one away with runners in the corners for Zito facing league MVP-candidate Joey Votto. We knew the battle between Barry Zito and Joey Votto would decide this game. As Votto fought off pitch after pitch on the strikes and Zito missed the box by millimeters on the balls, the sinking feeling that we were losing this one crept into us all.
In a way I was resigned to it when Barry ran out there, but somehow it didn’t matter. We had seen superhuman effort by our Giants. Grit, toughness and an unwillingness to rollover and die.
Finally though, one guy was tougher than them all and in an epic display of game-winning force, Joey Votto hit a ball so hard into shallow right field that nobody could’ve handled it – a smokin’ dribbler. Sanchez stopped it and tried to get the ball home.
Cairo, who had taken a huge lead from third arrived at the plate almost simultaneously with the ball, but Posey had blocked the plate. The two collided hard as Cairo outstretched for the plate, but Posey held on! The umpire, Hirschbeck, signaled vigorously and shouted, “Out!” … then the ball flew up in the air, slipping out of Buster’s hand … and the call was reversed. He was safe.
Reds 12, Giants 11.
Cordero retired the side in order and stole a win as the Cincinnati Reds beat the San Francisco Giants 12 to 11 in 12 crazy innings. Zito took the loss to fall to 8-9 (he didn’t win again this year and this was the one that made him a losing pitcher for the 2010 season).
Amazingly, the story of this game and its internal question of whether or not you can lose a Great Comeback was buried by baseball itself, which, in its statistical perfection provided a definitive Comeback Game on the very same day, by the very same margin of difference as ours.
In a staggering coincidence only possible in the mathematical infinity of baseball’s continuity, the Atlanta Braves were ahead by the exact same score of 10 to 1 over the Colorado Rockies and allowed Colorado to come back and win 11-10. On the same day! So guys were like, “Now, that’s a comeback.”
Thinking about it now, you could say it was the last game the Giants lost because of a collection of their own mistakes rather than by a single player’s lapse or by being outplayed by the better performance of their opponent. But despite the lop-sided opening and all the crazy errors made by so many Giants, this against-the-odds contest was also the grittiest expression of this team’s fight that I‘ve yet witnessed.
I’ve never been happier after a loss in my life. I was just so proud of our guys for trying that hard. You could feel that pride among all the fans as we shuffled toward the exits, smiling.
The whole team had an unwillingness to lose, yet lose they did, and in a sad but poetic way, that loss came at the hands of our own beloved, expensive, Prince of Inability, Barry Zito. Yes, we were proud of our Giants, despite, and now I understand what people mean when they say a Great Comeback can end in a loss.