Giants blew a lot of scoring chances tonight and that kept the Nationals in striking distance. Fifteen hits, two walks, and a meaningful stolen base should net you more than five runs. I knew the Giants would rue those blown opportunities. With some better at-bats it could have easily been an 8-1 game in the top of the 7th inning. Matt Cain delivered a stopper start until he gave up back-to-back bombs in the bottom half to make it 5-3, and Ol' Boch had to yank him. Suddenly, the team was just hanging on instead of cruising. Jeremy Affeldt made a mess of things, and Sergio Romo managed to clean it up, but Santiago Casilla made an even bigger mess, and that was that. Cain wasn't on top of his game, but he certainly pitched well enough to get the team a win in a must-win game. Washington showed a lot of explosiveness in this series, banging out extra-base hits in bunches. You had to figure they were going to keep coming, and it was going to take all hands to nail down the win.
When you don't hit home runs you have to rely on station-to-station baseball, and that means it takes four guys to score a run instead of one. And when you play for one run then one run is all you'll get. I like crooked numbers, but the team is just not built that way, they are built to hit three singles and not score. But that's, by comparison, a minor issue in the big scheme of things. Hell, at least they get hits. They couldn't do that last season. The big issue is the lack of consistent performance from key relievers. Another series on the road ends with bullpen disasters. This team needs to get outs in those "close-and-late" situations, and can't afford to let games like this get away from them. Tonight the Giants let one get away and now head for Pittsburgh to face the first-place Pirates for the final series before the Break.