Early troubles. Comeback. Near-disaster. Triumph. I really didn't need the unbearable agony at the end. I was nice and relaxed when the score was 9-4, I figured five runs was enough. Four pitchers to get one out? Yikes. It was nearly an epic, historic collapse. When Ryan Theriot ran back on that blooper by Jemile Weeks I though I was going to pass out. He caught the ball, I caught my breath, and the win was saved. My sanity took a hit, and so did my liver. Thanks, Giants. I prefer celebratory spirits, not medicating ones. I'm not sure I could have posted if they had lost.
The Giants can hit the ball, they just don't hit it very far. Mostly, that is. Today they got two big home runs from two guys they should get home runs from. And they were two-run homers to boot. We know the club can hit. Isn't that a strange thing to say? The team batting average is .262, the fifth-best in the National League. And they manage to score about four runs per game, just a hair short of the league average. Their slugging percentage, though, is only .380, or just good enough for twelfth place. Interestingly, the team OBP is .319, exactly in the middle of the pack. Now I understand the team plays in a park that suppresses the long ball, and if you look at the list you'll see that San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are the three worst home run hitting teams. (The Dodgers, like the Giants, are winning with pitching.) But the Giants are also 14th in doubles! So extra-base hits are a rare thing with this bunch. I know they have a lot of triples, but so do the Padres and Rockies, two teams with very large outfields. Triples are cool, but I'd hazard a guess that they don't correlate very well to wins. I am much happier about the fact that our outfield triumvirate of Gregor Blanco, Angel Pagan, and Melky Cabrera runs down balls and turn them into outs. They keep the other guys from hitting doubles and triples, and that has a wonderful synergistic impact on the pitching staff. And those three have shown they can get on base, run well, and keep rallies going. But the infielders are going to have to do the heavy lifting. The Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and Brandon Belt triumvirate has to deliver the power. Those guys have to bring the big sticks and get the timely bombs. None of them are sluggers in the classic sense, but they are good hitters with long ball strokes. It's a fun combination, the slash-and-dash mixed with the thunder. It just might have the makings of a winning offense.
The Athletics were generous after roughing up Madison Bumgarner and let the Giants back into the game. Eric Byrnes on the telecast defended the out-of-position Brandon Moss, and he had a point. The first error on the first baseman could have been ruled a hit as Panda really roped it. The second error was all on him, but the third could have been charged to pitcher Tyson Ross, who made a poor throw that handcuffed the hapless youngster. The A's also helped the Giants out on an outfield error by Jonny Gomes that ultimately led to a run. The Bumbino was not to be denied and put up zeros in the 4th, 5th and 6th to give his mates a chance. They took it, and the 'pen and the baseball gods did the rest. How else do you explain a game-saving ground rule double? Sergio Romo struck out three, Jeremy Affeldt worked an easy inning, but the ninth was terrifying. Shane Loux has to get the job done. Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez get a bit of a pass for all the fine work so far this season, but Loux doesn't. C'mon man, you don't earn anyone's confidence with that kind of outing! Clay Hensley gets the "S" next to his name, but that final out came way too close to being a walk-off winner. I'll take that drink now.
Matt Cain tomorrow.
p.s. Game 72 is the end of the fourth inning. 4/9 of the season has been played. The Giants are 40-32 (.556) having gone 9-9, 9-9, 12-6 and 10-8, and are three back of LA in the West.
p.p.s. Five Brandons started today, the aforementioned Belt and Moss, both who figured large in the outcome. Brandon Crawford, Brandon Hicks (Oakland's young SS who got the ground rule double to make it 9-8), and Brandon Inge (three hits and an RBI in the 9th) also started.