Total Pageviews

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Giants hit bottom before pulling out 7-6 win

Boss Bochy rarely, if ever, displays anger -- raw, livid emotion -- in public view. He's got the calm demeanor of a sedated bear.

But Tuesday night, after the Giants failed to cash in on a golden scoring opportunity -- first and third, no outs in the top of the ninth inning of a 6-6 tie with the New York Mets, Bochy went, for him, ballistics.

He kicked the dugout steps three, four, five times and cussed to himself as he glowered into a space we don't want to know about.

It was the nadir, the absolute bottom, of the Giants skid.

With Manny Burriss on third and Darren Ford on first -- after an infield single, a stolen base and a bunt single:

-- Aaron Rowand popped up in foul territory up the right field line, too shallow for Burriss to try to score from third. A good thing, too, as first baseman Ike Davis threw a pea for a strike to home that his father, former big league pitcher Ron Davis, would have been proud of. (Ford moved up to second on the throw).

-- Miguel Tejada, who had a 5-for-11 lifetime ledger against the Mets' closer, right hander Felix Rodriguez, when the league's PED testing wasn't so exact, jammed himself and hit as feeble and agonizing a pop up as you could imagine for the second out.

-- And, after the Mets intentionally walked the now-lethal No. 3 hitter, Mike Fontenot (hey, he had a key two-out, two-run single to put the Giants ahead 4-3), Buster Posey, went down with a soft fly ball.

It was that much more frustrating because of the way the Giants had put together their rally. Burriss started with a little chopper between home and the mound, not even drawing a throw. Then, after Burriss stole second, Ford bunted beautifully for another infield single to put runners at the corner.

The two speed guys did what they were supposed to do: create havoc on the basepaths. (It's a combination that Bochy may want to consider in today's game, especially if Rowand can't recover from back spasms).

That opportunity lost, the Giants looked doomed when the Mets loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth. But the Baseball Gods looked down on the Giants, the long-departed heroes of Coogan's Bluff, and granted them a stay.

Javier Lopez, the lefty sidewinder facing left-handed hitting catcher Josh Thole, got a gift that he could only have been dreamed of in an alternate universe that the Giants don't live in: a two-hopper back to the mound. It had some English on it, and Lopez was caught in an awkward fielding position, but he grabbed it and started the most gratifying double plays on earth: 1 to 2 to 3, pitcher to home to first.

Pitchers are known to a) kick ground balls back to them and b) forget how to throw strikes when it comes to a play at the plate. So, there was nothing assured until the damn thing was completed. If ever a reliever earned a victory, Lopez did just that, his first of the year.

And, then the hostages were freed in the top of the 10th.

Aubrey Huff took out all the frustration of his 3-for-37 slump on a 2-0 fastball, slamming it against the $5 Subway sign, and a 7-6 victory was sealed (after some dominating work by Brian Wilson in the bottom of the 10th).

Just two innings earlier, Huff's own angst had dipped to an all-time low when he popped out on a 3-0 pitch, with one out in the eighth and Buster Posey on second in a 6-6 tie.

It was the kind of win that would crush the spirits of whoever lost. But, who are we kidding? The Giants averted one of those foundation shaking, confidence-rattling defeats -- on top of everything else that's been going wrong -- that could have sparked panic from top to bottom in the organization.

As it is, they still have to look at some key decisions.

With Brandon Belt appearing to regain his confidence and swing in Fresno, the Giants are thinking of bringing him back. But he's been playing outfield, so, though Huff has had the most prolonged slump, it would be either Pat Burrell or Cody Ross who would see reduced playing time.

No matter where they place Tejada -- shortstop, third base, No. 8 in the lineup or No. 2, he's been a disaster. With Mark DeRosa not due back until Tuesday, the Giants' options, though, are limited. They could move Fontenot to third and slot Burriss at shortstop. But everyone recalls how poorly Fontenot played at third down the stretch last year, and he's actually pulled down some solid defense at shortstop.

And Burriss remains shaky on the field. He bobbled a simple two hopper in the ninth that could have been a double play but instead went for an out at first, helping runners move up to second and third. On a line drive he dove for earlier in the game, he knocked it down and had to scramble to throw out the hitter. But he got way too much glove on it to just knock it down. A smooth infielder would have caught it.

There's always fantasizing about acquiring the Mets' Jose Reyes, the exciting 27-year old shortstop who was on base six times in six plate appearances Tuesday. But that is unlikely to happen, at least immediately.

Meanwhile, Pablo Sandoval's surgery was successful. No report yet on how Bochy's toe is doing.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to read your blog. Any additional info about the Giants is always welcomed. Good luck with this venture.

    I'm curious to see if you can come up with a scoop about this team, considering your journalistic background---I hope so.