The Giants had a bad fourth inning. Gregor Blanco killed a potential rally by grounding into an inning-ending double play on the first pitch he saw from Trevor Cahill (with Vogelsong on deck, no less), and Ryan Vogelsong tried to use the same sequencing on the Diamondbacks the second time through the order and (predictably) saw it backfire as Arizona hit him for three runs to break a 15-inning scoreless streak coming into tonight.
The sequencing alone didn't make it a bad inning for Vogelsong, but his command surely did. I'm not sure why he and Posey thought it would be a good idea to open up Bloomquist's second plate appearance with a middle-in two-seam fastball like they did to open the first against him, but they tried it again and this time Bloomquist swung at it. First time around, it was kinda amazing that the sloppy, floaty two-seamer Vogelsong pitched Bloomquist didn't get launched into the bleachers, but I'm sure as a leadoff hitter Bloomquist felt obligated to take some pitches initially. Before that, though, that was just a terrible pitch to Montero that stayed up. The Giants (and, indeed, most teams) have been pretty successful de-gritting the Mighty Miggy (and defacto lord of the Diamondbacks for some reason) with soft stuff down and away. That was just slop up that he was able to drive.
Gregor Blanco's double play ball alone didn't make it a bad inning for the Giants, but getting away from the game plan when facing Cahill (wait for him to make mistakes up, make him throw a lot of pitches since he's always a groundball away from getting easy outs) surely did.
The rest of the game was sort of a typical Vogelsong start: bending but not breaking. It was also kind of a typical Cahill against the Giants start: a lot of bending but not breaking, missed opportunities by the Giants' offense.
You knew Roger Kieschnick was going to strikeout. That was in the cards before first pitch. Cahill is the exact wrong pitcher for him to face right now.
Oh well. It was a loss on Saturday night in the desert. Did you even watch the game?
If you did, you saw the Giants play a not-terrible game. In fact, there were some pretty spectacular plays. In the bottom of the sixth, with the bases loaded, Brandon Crawford's only play on a soft grounder hit by Cahill was to throw almost from the hole at short to home plate to get a force-out and he did it almost effortlessly. Prior to that, Crawford saved a high throw from Belt in the bottom of the third on a groundout that ended with Crawford landing on second base to initiate the force there and end the inning.
Angel Pagan ended the seventh inning thusly:
Oh, Angel. We've missed you so much...
They don't make 'em like they used to, folks.
* * *
Another thing you would've noticed is the grinding.
No, not THAT grinding, middle school teacher forced to sacrifice a Friday night to chaperone a dance.
No, not THAT grinding, local dentist.
And certainly not THAT grinding, tech-savvy single person looking for a "connection".
I'm talking about the only grinding that matters at SB Nation: playing baseball so hard it hurts and then playing through that pain in order to convince people that you didn't just hurt yourself playing a damn game.
I'm talking about the way the Diamondbacks play like they're mad all the time. At themselves, the opponent, the umpires, the fans, that pool in the outfield, that they have to use words at some point during the day, that they popped up, that that pitch wasn't called a strike, that they walked, that that dude caught the ball he hit well... all of it. That's not *grit*. Grit, at least in the traditional sense, means nothing fancy, just workmanlike. But there's even more deification to it than that. It's workmanlike, professional, strong, when one is not as "good" or "flashy" when compared to someone else. It is superiority through consistency. Arizona's warped that beyond the Ecksteinian notion of grit. They've made grit into an emotional issue.
Why not enjoy the game you get paid lots of money to play? Why not smile every once in a while. Ryan Vogelsong's mad at existence routine before he pitches is the exception on the Giants, not the norm. A team is supposed to be greater than the sum of its parts, and those parts aren't all supposed to be scowls.
I'm far off the reservation here when it comes to talking about baseball. I'm talking about humanity. Kirk Gibson looks like he's fought in three wars and has several children with whom he has formed no meaningful bonds. The Diamondbacks appeared to have doused Eric Chavez in chaw spit after he got the game-winning hit. Seriously, check out his neck:
And that sign at the end -- "GOT DIRT? (Get it?)" %*$# the heck?
The Diamondbacks are a talented team that's had some injury troubles this season. But they chased Justin Upton out of town. They're based in Arizona, the land of -- how to put this gently -- shamers and scolds. This grit and dirt and schmuckitude and dirtbaggery are symptomatic of anxiety, though. They want to elevate their averageness above the rest of baseball by saying it is the proper style of play. They do this because they've got an inferiority complex (shamers and scolds are dripping with self-consciousness, natch). But the Diamondbacks feel like they're trying to act tough without ever really being tough. How "tough" can they be? Does Gibby seriously wants Pattons and MacArthurs out there? A team of Dick Cheneys? Is Cheney even tough? See? They're chasing some vague notion. They're pressing. And pressing is anathema to playing baseball. Why would you intentionally put pressure on yourself or on your organization to play the game a *specific* way? This, when you've already got your "property" on notice that they had damn well better play the game the "right" way? What's the point of all this?
The only style of baseball that matters is winning.
Wow, that was a good run the Giants had.