The Giants are back to 5½ games out and now with only 64 games remaining.
Stranger things have happened, and the Giants have had some pretty unreal lucky streaks as recently as last calendar year. So, I suppose, all hope should not be lost, but in a day that saw Madison Bumgarner get an epic caining and the offense outside of a couple of well-struck Pablo Sandoval balls was as quiet as Marcel Marceau (R.I.P.) performing as a mouse. Their ninth inning rally began with two balls that didn't even leave the infield. And then Tanaka was thrown out at second base on a double play ball that led to an error and whatever. Who cares. What a mess. What a complete disaster.
The Giants lost that game and they deserved to lose that game. I know morality and athletic competitions are not really connected here, so, I'm not saying the Giants deserved to lose because they're bad people, but they played terribly -- except for Madison Bumgarner and Jake Dunning and I suppose Buster Posey and maybe even Pablo Sandoval a little bit -- and that's why they lost.
But, hey, they won another series, right? That's two in a row! It's the first time the Giants have won two consecutive series since May 20-26, versus the Nationals and the Rockies. Good things are gonna happen!
I admit it: I got greedy today. I expected the Giants to win today, to secure a sweep they so desperately needed. Instead, I and the rest of you got to see a litany of examples that demonstrate why they're languishing near the bottom of the league.
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The Giants got the leadoff runner on in the 5th and 6th innings and did not score in either. Pablo Sandoval crushed a pitch to left center away from the defensive shift the Diamondbacks employed against him and Tim Flannery decided that Buster Posey -- the catcher often lifted for his backup when the Giants need someone speedier on the basepaths -- should try to score from first base rather than leave the Giants with second and third and nobody out. Instead, Posey gets thrown out at home, Hunter Pence does nothing with a 3-0 fastball, and the Giants' brainwashing of Brandon Belt so that he swings at every first pitch he sees led to him swing at the first pitch from the left-handed reliever put into the game that led to a gentle pop up that quietly ended the Giants' threat to tie in the 6th.
Mike Krukow would have you believe that because the Diamondbacks executed a perfect relay to nail Buster Posey at home plate for the first out -- denying the Giants their first run of the game -- that the third base coach, Tim Flannery, is absolved of any wrongdoing. He couldn't have made a mistake because the opposition had to be perfect to blow up his plan.
Well, that's just wrong. And dumb. But, mainly, wrong.
One of my favorite parts of that whole relay was that earlier in the game Krukow had compared Pollock's arm to Parra's and Ross's and said it wasn't as good. Well, obviously, it's not as good as Cliff Pennington's, but his defensive prowess, despite having to run all the way from right centerfield on account of the shift, was amazing and his solid, accurate throw to Pennington setup a perfect -- and I mean perfect AND AMAZING -- rocket launch from Pennington to Montero at home plate to get Posey.
Maybe second and third with no outs still leads to no runs and the Giants still lose this game, but I'll err on the side of it's better than a runner at second and one out. Now Randall Delgado is facing Pence with a runner on third base. Does the infield move in? If it stays back, maybe Pence doesn't get the green light on a 3-0 pitch and maybe he draws a walk. Now the bases are loaded. Maybe Belt doesn't swing at the first pitch because of that. The entire situation, in addition to the innings' complexion, is radically altered. I've said it before, but just observing the Giants' hitters, their brains switch off completely with runners in scoring position. Sometimes it doesn't hurt to let the pitcher run out enough rope with which to hang himself. The Giants don't *always* have to help him out.
Live by The Flannery, die by The Flannery.
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I contend that nailing runners at home plate is, like, one of the grittiest things a team can do, so let's all blame the Giants for bolstering Kirk Gibby and the Diamondbacks' brand these past two games.
About the grittiest thing that happened for the Giants today was Madison Bumgarner's performance. Towards the end of the game he couldn't command his fastball, but he persevered and managed to hold the best team in the National League West to 1 run. And that 1 run was thanks to a triple that was handled Andres Torresingly out in left centerfield by Kensuke Tanaka. So, today was definitely a day where we could and should hang this one on every other Giant besides Madison Bumgarner. Next time the team bus breaks down he should pretend he's sleeping.