Something the Giants haven't been good at this year: The come-from-behind dinger in the ninth inning or later. If the other team is up and about to win, the Giants usually don't pull their lips over their face with a surprise home run. In fact it hasn't happened once this year.
That's how close they came to a come-from-behind dinger in the ninth. Maybe we were all just spared a blown save and a tougher loss in the 16th. Dunno. But for as spoiled as Giants fans have been for the last calendar year, we really haven't blessed with those magic homers late in the ball game.
The last five come-from-behind homers in the ninth inning or later:
8/15/13 - Hector Sanchez @ Nationals
5/25/13 - Angel Pagan vs. Rockies
4/30/13 - Pablo Sandoval @ Diamondbacks
4/26/12 - Angel Pagan @ Reds
9/4/10 - Juan Uribe @ Dodgers
You remember all of those home runs. They make for special, memorable games. To be fair, the Cardinals have had just two since 2010, so it's not like the Giants are doing anything unusual by not hitting that many.
I just want one? Yeah, I feel like I'm entitled to those endorphins. And they were that close. A slightly warmer night, a little breeze out to center, a foot more on Trevor Rosenthal's fastball ... instead, it was a chewy, burnt steak of a game.
They were that close. It was probably the sound waves of the fans' extra cheering that kept the ball in. Keep that in mind the next time you go to the ballpark.
The Giants lead the league in batting average with runners in scoring position. The Cardinals lead the league in batting average allowed with runners in scoring position. They've been historically fortunate in those situations, really. Something (movie trailer voice) HAD TO GIVE.
The Giants were 1-for-6 in the game with runners in scoring position. Oh, come on. Something was supposed to give the other way. We're entitled to that, too.
More than the situational stuff, the Giants have the league's best lineup (or close to it), and the Cardinals are in the middle of the freakiest pitching season in recent memory. Their adjusted ERA as a team is 148, which is insane. The last Giants starter to have an ERA+ that good was Tim Lincecum in his Cy Young seasons. Clayton Kershaw had a 150 ERA+ in 2012, and he lead the National League. The Cardinals have essentially had 2012 Clayton Kershaw pitching for them in every inning, in every game.
Even if they're due for a little regression to the mean, it's pretty clear that the Cardinals feature an excellent staff, a true test for a Giants lineup that just feasted on the Nationals' vaunted rotation. Instead, the Giants couldn't hit with runners in scoring position, and they couldn't really hit at all. Round one goes to the stupid Cardinals.
I hope this isn't like the Nationals season series, in which the Giants made you really mad and let you sit on it for a while before making it up to us. Though I guess they don't have to make it up to us at all, so maybe we shouldn't get too grumbly yet.
For all the RISP talk up there, it's a minor miracle that the Giants didn't lose 5-1, considering how often Chris Heston left his sinker up and missed with his location. Michael Wacha was putting 95-mph fastballs, 92-mph cutters, and 75-mph curves wherever he wanted, so it was a mismatch on paper the second Heston showed up with shoddy command.
Which is to say, if the above bit about RISP came off as whining, my apologies. This wasn't ever a game that made me think, "Man, the Giants should totally be winning right now." I'm kind of surprised they had a chance to take the lead in the ninth, to be honest.
Gregor Blanco couldn't quite catch up to Stephen Piscotty's triple in the eighth inning, and it looked like he used Angel Pagan's knees to stop and turn around. I'm not sure how many center fielders in the game could have caught the ball, much less held the runner to a double. I'll just guess "some of them." Pagan does not reside within that subset of "some," so don't take this the wrong way. It was just the perfectly placed line drive at exactly the wrong moment for that particular center fielder.
Blanco's boner-bunt in the third inning, spoiling a runner-on-third/one-out situation? Less forgivable. In a one-run game against a team with the best record in baseball, boner-bunts are the worst possible idea.
Or did Brandon Belt commit a worse transgression by Belt running into a double play instead of doing the ol' stop, drop, or roll?
Or should we complain about Hunter Pence hitting into the double play in the first place?
The correct answer: We should probably just forget about the game entirely and stare at the TV until tomorrow. Dumb game. Happens. Just remember that August is a ravenous mutant, and it isn't done with us yet.