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Giants avoid sweep, drop final game against Phillies

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It was close, and then Jeff Francoeur happened.

okay, that's kind of a cool picture
okay, that's kind of a cool picture
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, they flirted with it all weekend. Jeff Francoeur had a grand slam on Saturday, and that recap noted that he was coming for us.

One of these days, it's going to come in the ninth inning or in a one-run game. As is, that was a good one, baseball. You got us. Good one. Ha ha, oh, you.

The only surprise is that it was the very next day. He got us. The affable, inexplicable once-Giant got us. Good one. Ha ha, oh, baseball. Please forget the Giants visit Dan Uggla and the Nationals for a three-game series starting July 3.

Forget the minor note that Francoeur was an ex-Giant, though. It's good for a few chuckles and/or grimaces, but it really doesn't tell us anything. No, focus on what Francoeur represents in a baseball context: a free-swinging right-handed hitter, with pronounced platoon splits and a slider-speed bat.

The hitter who matches that description got to face Javier Lopez.

The options were:

  • Let Ryan Vogelsong face Odubel Herrera
  • Bring in George Kontos (warming up) to face Herrera
  • Bring in Javier Lopez, but burn him if the Phillies countered with a right-handed PH
  • Bring in Javier Lopez, but leave him in to face a right-handed hitter

Before you choose, remember the Giants' Rules of Bullpen Order, describing exactly what should not be allowed when making a bullpen move.

The Giants' Rules of Bullpen Order

  1. Do not let Javier Lopez face right-handed batters

Everything else is secondary. The Giants have had a remarkably stable and effective bullpen for the last four years, and there isn't much that any of the relievers can't do. Throw them against just about anyone, and it makes sense. Except for Lopez against righties. That's the one thing that can't happen.

My other complaint:

Wait, that's my line. I'm the one who is supposed to write "Baseball happens" because I've run out of ideas. Except on this one, it wasn't just baseball happening. Bad luck is the residue of awful design. Start with the idea that Vogelsong earned a shot at Revere. Why? He didn't have otherworldly stuff. He wasn't mowing the Phillies down. He wasn't in the middle of a shutout. He was having a very, very Vogie start, getting caught with some balls up, generally frustrating hitters, giving up a couple runs, and grinding. This was a fifth starter's delight, and fifth starters don't earn the right to go one more batter, they earn the right to keep grinding away in the rotation.

Revere has actually hit left-handed pitchers better in his career, even if he's struggling against them in a small sample this year. So it wasn't a crime to keep Lopez in the bullpen. But while Bochy has my eternal respect and admiration, my biggest quibble with him has to do with the Code of the Veteran Starter that he's seemingly invented, which leads to Vogelsong earning the right to face one more batter, or pitchers having a bad game and getting a chance to finish the fifth inning so they can qualify for a win.

Whatever. Vogelsong threw reasonably well today, and Revere isn't a very good hitter, so the idea of leaving Vogelsong in to face Revere wasn't that questionable, even if the reasoning is a little silly. The real problem was Lopez staying in to face Francoeur.

The Giants' Rules of Bullpen Order

  1. Do not let Javier Lopez face right-handed batters

Always and forever, especially as he gets older.

Hey, the Giants are playing .667 baseball over their last three games! Two out of three on the road! That's not so bad!

Except it always feels like a downer to lose the last game of series, that's why I keep using the "Giants avoid sweep" lineup construction that confuses Facebook so. It just feels like the Giants tripped over the garden hose that they left there themselves. Feels like the Giants did more to lose the game than usual.

As is, two out of three on the road! That's not so bad, even if the opponent in question isn't exactly a contender. Just pretend yesterday's game was today.

★★★

I remember Chase Utley as one of the very best hitters the Giants have ever faced, a player who fits that Bagwell/Sheffield category of players, the ones who personify doom.

So it's sad to see him now as a someone who is unable to move his neck because of a spider bite.

utley

utley

utley

Utley was one of the very best. And now his neck is a swollen, immovable mess. Best wishes, Chase Utley, and let us know if you ever find the spider that did this to you.