In a game started by Albert Suarez, who was 43 pitchers down on the February depth chart, without two of their All-Star hitters, against a contending American League team with the best offense in baseball, the Giants had a shot. They had something better than a shot. They had a late-inning lead.
There's no shame in feeling proud about that. There's no pride in feeling shame, either.
When you think of it like that, why, the Giants almost accomplished something. Suarez giving up six straight doubles in the first inning wouldn't have seemed so far-fetched, and this game could have been sacrificed to the Giants-need-to-trade-for-a-starting-pitcher gods. They went hungry in May, and a hungry deity is an angry deity. Rick Porcello could have limited the Giants to a hit or two, and the game would have been thrown in the Giants-need-another-hitter volcano.
I wish we could go back in time and warn them, but, nope, it was a bullpen game again. That volcano is full. Looks like a garbage can on the third day of Bonnaroo, really. Before we get too deep into it, here's how the lead was lost:
- Walk by the starting pitcher
- Stolen base and error by the catcher
- A weak chopper that was ~~~~ that close to being a double play
That's not a Bullpen Meltdown According to Hoyle. Chris Young was the shorter Chris Young, and he did this:
It's hard to blame Crawford, as he knew David Ortiz is slow, but he didn't have a ton of first-hand experience about how slow. Regardless, one of the most feared hitters in baseball hit a grounder to an infielder in a double-play situation. Picking on the bullpen is a very easy thing to do, but I'm not sure it's right in this situation.
And after Ortiz's fielder's choice, the Red Sox were 1-for-8 through the ninth inning. Hunter Strickland limited the damage in the seventh, and he was steady in the eighth, too. Santiago Casilla was perfect in the ninth. It should have been a bullpen meltup, I'm telling you! We should have been proud of the bullpen and the limping roster at the same time.
Instead, let's see what the ol' FanGraphs Joy-Suck Machine has to say about the Giants' recent June swoon:
On Saturday, the Giants were 92.8-percent favorites to win.
On Sunday, they were 81.9-percent favorites.
And on Tuesday, at their peak, they were 23.8-percent favorites. That means there was about a .3-percent chance that you would be feeling this annoyed right now. Somehow that makes me feel better, I don't know about you. It's like a Bartolo Colon homer of consecutive losses.
I understand Bochy keeping Casilla in for the 10th, I really do. He was completely dominant in the ninth and his spot in the order wasn't coming up. If your argument against using him again has to do with something you've noticed about him in his second innings of work, that's fine. If the argument revolves around "That man has made me sad this season," that's not a great way to devise a strategy.
Casilla may or may not be the best reliever in the bullpen, but he's top three, easy. When a top-three reliever has a flawless inning and you're in extra innings, you don't want to start getting weird with matchups and one-inning outings for the sake of one-inning outings.
I would have even kept him in after he gave up a double to a random-ass backup catcher. I'd be a great manager, and all my relievers would love me. I'm loyal, you hear, loyal. After the four-pitch walk, my confidence would have wavered, and I would have put Casilla on the trolley to showertown, yet what did he allow after that? A perfect bunt and a dead quail. He was so close to getting out of it.
So I'm not here to bury Casilla. I know it would play well with the base, but I can't. If Brandon Belt bunts against the shift in the ninth and Gregor Blanco drives a double into the gap, we're talking about his perfect outing. Instead, Blanco had a brutal rally-killing double play and an unfortunate 3-1 pop-up late in the game. The Giants had three base runners after the fifth inning. Blaming one pitcher for that whole game is incredibly short-sighted.
However, we'll all come together on this point, and this will unify the base. There wasn't a second of that game, from Strickland blowing fastballs by hitters to Lopez making David Ortiz take an awkward swing to Casilla's perfect ninth, that I wasn't absolutely desperate for another, better reliever. Even when they were doing well, I was daydreaming about Andrew Miller.
Can you imagine these two teams meeting in October, and when the Giants get into a sticky late-inning situation, George Kontos coming out of the bullpen to see if anyone is in the mood for slider-flalin'? I cannot. So it wasn't all the bullpen's fault, but it was at least partially the bullpen's fault, and here we are talking about the bullpen again. The Giants should probably fix that bullpen.
And yet, the Giants almost won an Albert Suarez start against the Red Sox. I'm not sure if you could have slipped a magazine between Brandon Crawford's glove and Chris Young. That's how close it was. I would have taken those odds before the game. As is, I just wanna sleep.
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What you think you'll do when June comes at you at 100 mph:
What you actually do:
Hate u June.