We're 14 games into the season, and the Giants already have three of the dumbest losses possible. That's not to suggest that fans are ever happy with a loss, but there are plenty of ways to lose that don't sting quite as much. Getting dominated by Jose Fernandez doesn't hurt that bad. A starting pitcher giving up five runs in the fourth inning doesn't hurt that bad, at least not by the end of the game. The season is supposed to be dull losses sprinkled with horrific losses, not the other way around.
We're 14 games into the season, and the Giants have lost games on a double play that wasn't turned, another double play that wasn't turned, and a two-strike, two-out homer that was a seagull belch away from clanking off the fence. When the game was 13 pitches old, the Diamondbacks had the bases loaded and no outs. "Oh, so it's going to be one of those games," I thought, debating whether or not to just watch the Warriors game and make stuff up for the recap.
One of those games would have been a delight in comparison. Get it over with early, grumble about Jake Peavy, make some snacks, and by about the fifth inning, start looking forward to tomorrow, if only because it's a different baseball game than this dumb one. We weren't so lucky.
The Giants led 6-2 in the sixth inning. I'm sorry to report that Baseball-Reference's Play Index doesn't let you search by size of blown leads, but I'd wager that the Giants have blown maybe ... 15 leads of four runs in the final four innings at home since AT&T Park opened? Whatever the actual answer is, it's frightfully small. When the Giants get up by four runs, you expect them to win, especially at home. When that doesn't happen, you look for blood. You look for scapegoats.
Start with Jake Peavy. He was pulled with 78 pitches in the fifth inning because his manager had seen this crap before. And it's not like anyone was screaming, "NO, KEEP HIM IN" at the TV. Because they, too, had seen this crap before. Getting through five or six innings with a chance to win the game is a Peavy signature. Once the fuel light goes on, get off at the very next exit. Bochy did just that.
But that's just not cool from a starting pitcher if the bullpen is scrapping. And the bullpen most definitely is scrapping.
Cory Gearrin was impressive again, and Derek Law apparently never wants to see another minor league stadium. After years of relative bullpen stability, with the ludicrous luck, skill, and timing of the Core Four, all assembling and staying healthy at the same time, it's possible that the Giants' best relievers are a pair of randos who weren't even supposed to be a part of the bullpen just a couple months ago.
Hunter Strickland somehow stopped missing bats at the worst possible time. He needed to strike out Rickie Weeks, and he couldn't. Read that sentence again. But, really, don't grumble about Strickland too much. He got two grounders, one hard-hit ball, and two fly outs. It wasn't a meltdown inning. It was just an unfortunate inning.
Which brings us to Santiago Casilla. Who is going to be a talk-radio topic after this game, boy howdy. He was a Jake Lamb guess away from being completely invisible, the closer who did the unremarkable and expected job of a closer. For 12 pitches, he teased and taunted, just like we're used to. Here's what he did to the first batter he faced:
Sit down, junior. A grizzled veteran is at work.
The second batter was a little similar.
And the third batter was fine, right up until Casilla's out-of-body experience.
Two strikes, two outs. And that's the pitch. A fastball right ... down ... the ... middle. To a hitter who isn't exactly noted for his Gwynn-like ability to adjust in the middle of an at-bat.
What are the alternatives? Patience is usually a good alternative, and it's my recommendation here. But you probably don't care, and good for you. I'm filled with stupid ideas. There's a valued Twitter user who keeps tweeting the merits of Huston Street at me. I have news for you: Street is basically Casilla. There are about 20 closers in the league who are Casilla or worse, and they'll all stress you the heck out.
No, the alternative is to wait for happier days. I don't know why Casilla threw a TWO-STRIKE PITCH RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE, he said in his best Sam Kinison scream, but I'm not going to use it as evidence that he's washed up. Looks like the same pitcher to me. It was just one of those games, one in which the hitter actually hit a homer at the worst time instead of fouling it back to the screen and making a face because he knew he just missed it.
The leash is definitely and appropriately shorter now, though. Casilla has been the closer for a year-and-a-half, and he's done fine work. But he took over in a bloodless coup, and it's only a matter of time until the same happens to him. I figured it would be in the offseason, when he's a free agent, and I'll stick by that for now.
Until then, be skeptical. Oh, you already w ...
We can't even enjoy a game in which the other team walked a Giants pitcher to force a run in. Joe Panik hit a ball 430 feet over a gigantic wall, the Diamondbacks walked a pitcher to allow a run, and we're here rolling our eyes.
That's the real crime. That and the Diamondbacks' ugly-ass uniforms, which look like a '90s rebranding of a Marvel superhero.
"Sir, the kids aren't reading Spider-Man anymore."
"Give him a new suit! Make it grey, with ... flecks of dunno and ... you know ... get people excited about the new look!"
Bill Veeck is rolling over in his grave. At least he was aware that his uniforms were hilariously wrong.
This game was the Diamondbacks uniform of games. Let us never speak of it again.