Giants Win On Friday, Move 4½ Games Over Dodgers

Don't worry. It's Clayton Kershaw vs. Barry Zito tomorrow. Sure, it would have been nice to have that game, but when a couple of former Cy Young winners square off, anything can happen!!!

That game would have been so much better if it were 10-0 Dodgers after the first inning. Not aesthetically better. But you would have made your peace with it a long time ago, and now you'd be doing something else. Watching a movie, feet propped up, and eating a Drumstick, or something. You know what? I have one of those in my freezer. So nuts to this game for a few minutes. I'm going to eat a Drumstick first.

Man, these things are good.

Hoooo. That is recommended. Now it'll be easier to discuss why that game was so damned frustrating. It probably wasn't the most frustrating game of the season, but it's the most frustrating one that I remember right now. It had everything it needed to be as frustrating as possible:

The Unfortunate

Gregor Blanco was about six offseason push-ups away from tying that game.

Hector Sanchez hit the last out of the game on the screws. You could picture Charlie Brown sitting forlornly on a curb, thinking about that one until it became too much.

Adrian Gonzalez beat a decent pitch for his triple in the ninth. Jeremy Affeldt probably didn't want to put that curveball anywhere else -- it was a get-it-in curve to get ahead in the count. Maybe it could have been a little lower, but that's not really the point of that pitch. It's supposed to steal a strike. Tip your cap on that one. Fifteen percent is standard, but 20 percent is probably better if you really think that was a good at-bat.

The 3-2, belt-high fastball to Hanley Ramirez? Do not tip your cap on that one. That was a lousy pitch. But between the Sanchez out, the Blanco near-miss, and the Gonzalez triple, there were a lot of reasons to say, "Aw, dang it" rather than "YOU HORRIBLE, REPUGNANT BASEBALL TEAM."

The Painful

So, Hunter Pence. Boy, oh boy. There's gonna be a late-September hit or an October streak that's going to make this all worthwhile. He said to himself, as he yearned for Nate Schierholtz to come back.

He's been better with the bat lately -- .317/.404/.512 since Aug. 25, which was the last game he failed to reach base -- but he sure isn't the most adroit fielder out there. He's not the most adroit anything. The eighth-inning sequence was brutal -- a catchable ball popping out of his glove and leading to the tying run, backed up with a strikeout with two runners on in the bottom-half of the inning.

You know the old saying. Sometimes you eat the decaying plant matter, and sometimes the decaying plant matter eats you. That was not Pence's finest hour.

And Bruce Bochy. Brucey, Brucey, Brucey. He doesn't bunt a lot because someone explained the numbers to him. Did you know that? It's true. Someone sat down with Bochy at some point in his career, explained the run matrix to him, and convincingly persuaded Bochy about the value of not making an out on purpose in the middle innings. Bochy listened. I can't find the interview in which he appealed to the numbers, but that's why he doesn't bunt that much. He could have been Don Mattingly when it came to a bunt fetish. He is not, and for that, we are grateful.

We need to find the guy who explained that to Bochy. Because the value of Matt Cain's at-bat in the bottom of the seventh far exceeded the extra value Cain was going to provide over the bullpen in the top of the eighth. It's just sound logic. Sure, there will be times where you send the pinch-hitter up, and he strikes out, only to have the bullpen blow it in the eighth. But the smart play is still to pinch-hit, especially with a pitcher who's closing in on 100 pitches. That extra run was so, so valuable.

This isn't hindsight. This is what I was screaming at the TV when the Dodgers were intentionally walking Blanco. Somewhere along the way, Bochy changed his mind about the value of a sacrifice bunt. Maybe, just maybe, it'll happen with the keep-the-pitcher-in-one-inning-too-long gag, too.

The Overlooked

Matt Cain deserved a win. Buster Posey deserved to be the star of the game after nearly decapitating Luis Cruz twice and gunning down three of the blue horde. Brandon Belt deserved the game-winning RBI for hitting the snot out of the ball in a man-on-third, one-out situation. Marco Scutaro saw 15 pitches in his last two at-bats, and drew two clutch walks. It's unfortunate that we have to talk about all the other stuff because there was a lot of good today.

But, again, a totally even matchup of former Cy Young winners tomorrow night. On national TV, no less! Go get 'em, Zeets. Go get 'em. Show the world they were wrong about you when it came to those other 173 games as a Giant.

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