Something you don’t think about during spring training: what a one-run game feels like. If there’s a one-run game in the Cactus League, it doesn’t mean much by the time you get to Joe Shlabotnik in the bottom of the ninth. Low scoring, one-run games are freaky. Sometimes they can turn on the darnedest things. Like, oh, not CATCHING THE DAMN BASEBALL. But let’s be pragmatic about this:
Tim Lincecum’s easy 94/95 MPH fastball was better than a million spring wins. At the risk of sounding heretical, I’m far more comfortable losing tonight’s game with Lincecum pitching like that than I would be winning an 8-7 affair in which Lincecum was pulled early before a furious comeback. That’s the luxury of having 161 more regular season games. I’m not as big of a velocity snob as some folks were during DEFCON Timmy last year, but it certainly helps when he has a little extra on his fastball.
Brandon Belt has a fantastic approach. Even when he made outs, he looked good. When he had a Kirk Rueter swing against Jonathan Broxton, obviously looking for a fastball he didn’t get, he calmed himself and controlled the rest of the at-bat. I think he has a good chance to make this team out of camp as soon as this season.
It didn’t mean a lot, but the part of me that still hangs onto the psychology of baseball -- loosely defined as finding intangible evidence to support your preconceived notions -- likes that Pat Burrell hit a home run off Jonathan Broxton. The Giants probably don’t even make the playoffs if Broxton was any good in the second half, and everyone knows it. A quick 1-2-3 wouldn’t have counted as an extra loss, but maybe there’s a 3% chance that it would have puffed Broxton up. Mentally, I mean.
I’m not worried about Miguel Tejada’s throws to second; I’m worried about his range. I’m not worried about Buster Posey’s throws to third; I’m worried about my wife leaving me for him. I’m not especially worried about the Giants’ defense catching the ball. I’m worried about a few of them getting close enough to the ball to attempt a catch. So as far as ways to lose a game, this one stings, but it doesn’t feel like an omen game.
Well, except for the not-scoring part. Maybe we’ll look back in August, with the Giants sitting at 400 runs and Kershaw with a 6.45 ERA, and think, man, we should have seen the signs early. Doubtful, though. Clayton Kershaw is kind of a monster when he has his command. While it’s fun to laugh at the Royals and Tigers for whiffing on Lincecum in the 2006 draft, part of me wants to poke both of the scouting directors from those organizations who didn’t take Kershaw either. He is a bad Dodger, by which I mean he’s a really good Dodger.
If Santiago Casilla isn’t throwing 95 MPH, he’s the waiver bait he was before he came to the Giants. He picked it up in the later part of the inning, but his velocity has been down all spring. It’s not panic time, but it’s not not panic time.
Randy Johnson retired, and so did the punchline to this bit. But we could probably find some ugly if we tried.
I actually kind of enjoy Orel Hershiser the broadcaster. And, sure, he was a Dodger great, but he wasn’t the worst Giant in the world, either. But he really is kind of a goony bird.
A loss. It wasn’t a fun loss. They rarely are. But it wasn’t a sob-in-yer-ale loss. It was just a good game kind of loss. Except for that part where they DIDN’T CATCH THE DAMNED BALL, but that’s just quibbling.
Dang it. I hate it when the Giants lose to the Dodgers.