Greek Giant

Did you know that with Shaun Anderson’s 2-2 debut at the plate yesterday the Giants now have the all-time leader in home runs (Barry Bonds), ERA (The Panda), and batting average (Anderson)? That’s kind of cool if a little bit of a cherry-picked stat. Pablo Sandoval doubled home a run, Aramis Garcia (Why wasn’t he the backup catcher from day one out of Spring Training?) hit a two-run home run, and Shaun Anderson pitched competently in his debut.

The big hit, however, was Brandon Crawford’s opposite field homer in the bottom of the sixth that put the Giants ahead for good. Will Smith pitched another perfect ninth for the save and the Giants held on for a 4-3 win and a 2-3 home stand on a dreary, damp and chilly day at the ballpark, which, by the way, was not exactly filled to the rafters with screaming fans.

Speaking of BCraw it’s no secret he is having one of the worst, if not the worst start of his career. He appears to have entered Spring Training, shall we say, a little fuller. He appears a bit slower afoot and he is on pace for about 30 runs batted in for the year. Don’t ask about his batting average! Yesterday’s blast was a reminder of the fantastic talent our Crawford possesses when he is right. His raw talent and power at the plate are one thing but it seems to me what makes Crawford special when he is hitting is his ability to come up with the big hit or the epic homer.

With the win the Giants are now 11-4 in one-run games. That’s the best mark in the Bigs.

Shaun Anderson displayed a plus plus curveball and a decent fastball. Despite some shaky defense, he kept the damage limited to two earned runs, three total, in five innings on only three hits. He certainly pitched well enough to earn another start, particularly since the Giants starting rotation has all of a sudden fallen off a cliff with Pomeranz, D-Rod, and Derek Holland all being demoted and/or placed on phantom injured lists.

There was an interesting play at a crucial moment in the game when Vladimir Guerrero hit a slow roller up the third base line to Evan Longoria with a Blue Jay on third and one out. Longo elected for the sure out at first rather than risk not getting the out on a close tag play at the plate. The replays showed it would have been relatively close but that the runner would have been out with a good throw and tag. As a former third baseman I was ok with Longoria’s decision for a couple of reasons. It was only the fifth inning and the Blue Jays were about to enter into their bullpen with Edwin Jackson, who set a Major League record playing for his 14th team in yesterday’s start, clearly running out of gas. If Longoria does not get the out all of a sudden a run is in, a runner is on first and the Giants rookie pitcher is in a whole lot of trouble.

The reason I mention the play is because it is one of the delicate and beautiful nuances of baseball: the decisions based on circumstance an infielder has to make. Brandon Belt would likely, in contrast, have thrown home since he likes to showcase his first class arm. Longoria’s choice of the safe play may have also betrayed a subtle lack of athleticism on his part, particularly when it comes to agility and arm strength. It got me to think about how un-athletic as a whole the Giants are. It’s not just that their core stars don’t hit for power or average anymore. No, the problem with our San Franciscans in a nutshell is this: They don’t hit for power, they don’t run well as a team, they don’t hit for average and they lack a general sense of raw physical talent due in part to their age and physical decline, with the obvious exceptions being Steven Duggar and Kevin Pillar.

Nevertheless, on this grey day, the Giants gave us a win and that’s something to cherish considering there may not be many more left to celebrate the rest of this season.

The Box