Greek Giant

Evan Longoria (0-4), Kris Bryant (0-5), and Brandon Crawford (0-3) were a combined 0-12 in yesterday’s ten inning, 7-6 loss to the Padres at Tony Gwynn Field. It was not the whole story of the game but it was a key chapter in the narrative. In fact, the Giants, as ChannelClemente commented, “earned this loss” with bad performances in critical moments on numerous levels. Logan Webb had a very bad first inning throwing 40 plus innings in the first and allowing four runs while totally losing control of all his pitches. He was pulling everything to the first base side of the plate. When he managed to find the strike zone the Padres were getting key hits, two with two outs to score two runs after Webb failed to limit the damage. He would recover and find an excellent rhythm until he was lifted after four innings, a decision that at the time seemed a bit questionable since the Giant bullpen has been taxed to the limit in this series.

Ugly At Bats

I will get to that in a minute but first the other critical situation for the San Franciscans came in the top of the tenth when the Giants had two on and nobody out with Brandon Belt and Kris Bryant coming up. In other words, the beef was there at the right time with the ducks on the pond. Both batters had 3-1 counts. Both popped up weakly against a pitcher, Ross Detwiler, who was throwing well below his usual velocity and who was clearly struggling.

The Winning Run

The Padres would score the winner in the bottom of the tenth when with runners on second and third Victor Caratini hit a hard smash up the middle with the infield playing in. Tommy LaStella would make a sensational diving stop to snare the ball. However his attempt at throwing out the winning run was futile as he threw with his body parallel to the ground and the ball sailed toward the backstop. It would have taken an inhumanly great play to get the lead runner. It did not happen. Game over.

Critical Play

One batter earlier Kim executed a very good sacrifice with runners on first and second. Dominic Leone fielded the ball near the third base line cleanly but chose not to throw to third after looking quickly at the bag. The runner would have been out but it was not clear if Longoria was able to return to the bag in time to receive the play. Leone, rather than risk a disaster, opted to go to first with the throw where he barely recorded the out.

This is one of the most difficult plays for a pitcher and third baseman and the Giants failed to execute it.

It cost them.

In the sequence the third baseman has to gauge in a matter of seconds, if the bunt will be fielded by the pitcher or if he has to charge and take it. If the pitcher fields the play, the third baseman is responsible for hustling back to field the throw at third. Even for the best of fielders, like Longoria, when a bunt is well-placed it makes for a supremely tough moment with many potential problems. That was the case with Kim’s sacrifice and that was the difference in the game. If the play is made at third, as it could have been, the Padres have one out and runners on first and second with the infield playing back. The smash by Caratini is an easy inning-ending double play in all likelihood and the Giants are on the way to batting in the top of the eleventh. Instead it was scored an infield single and resulted in the winning run.

Infield Strategy

One more thing: there were questions as to why Gabe Kapler did not elect to walk Caratini to load the bases with one out and have the infield play for a double play. I see the logic of either argument. If the bases are loaded there is no room for a walk. With the infield at double play depth a weak grounder scores the winning run. The decision may have been based on how much confidence Kapler had in Leone to throw strikes on a day when the Giants pitchers walked seven batters with two of them turning into runs.

The Incredibly Aggressive Mr. Kapler

Gabe Kapler made another critical decision in pinch-hitting for Logan Webb in the top of the fifth with nobody on base and two outs. At that point Webb was in a groove and probably good for two more innings of work, a key issue considering the state of the Giants relief corps with its recent workload, especially as they prepare to start a three-game series against the Rockies in Denver. Kapler, ever aggressive, decided to pinch hit Alex Dickerson for the Giant starting pitcher. Dickerson would have a terrible at bat being overpowered by three Darvish fastballs and looking quite rusty in his first plate appearance after a stint on the IL. I did not like the move then with Webb cruising and such little potential reward. I also do not like using pinch hitters in the early innings unless you are in the postseason. Perhaps Kapler is managing this game a la Bochy, as in a postseason urgent kind of way. At any rate, Webb was done for the day and did not look too happy about it.

But the Giants would take the lead in the top of the sixth thanks to a lighting strike by Austin Slater who pinch hit for LaMonte Wade Jr. with two men on and one out. Slater had one of the best at bats of the season by any Giant fouling off numerous tough pitches with a two-strike count and facing nine pitches total, and then lining a three-run home run just over the five foot wall in left field to put the Giants ahead in the game 5-4 after an early 4-0 hole. It was glorious.

Some aggressive moves pay off, some do not.

Unfortunately that lead did not last long.

No Shutdown Inning

Sadly, the Padres would respond with two solo homers in the critical shutdown inning of the bottom of the sixth off Jose Quintana who was looking sharp until the Padre strikes. There were more lead changes and the game had a very intense feel. I tip my hat to the Padres for fighting so hard and playing urgent baseball with their season basically over.

Yaz hit a two-run homer in the top of the second to give the Giants life and respond to the early 4-0 debacle of the bottom of the first. It was a huge hit and a sign of how much fight, how much spirit this 2021 Giants team has within them. It came off a Yu Darvish slerver on a day when the Padre righty had about 14 pitches working (including a heavy 97 MPH fastball that Padre catcher Caratini had a difficult time corralling)  brilliantly and against most other teams, would have thrown seven or eight innings of shutout ball.

With the loss and the win by the Hollywood baseballers, the Giant lead in the National League West is one game. There was about a two-minute span in the top of the sixth when the Giants went ahead and the Bums were one strike away from losing when it looked like our boys were going to be leaving San Diego with a commanding three-game lead.

It did not happen.

Arggghhh Baseball!

The Box

Tonight’s Game

With nine games left in the season the Giants go to Denver for three games against the Colorado Rockies. Game 1 is tonight at 6:10 PM, Vinny Castilla time with Alex Wood facing Peter Lambert.

Let’s end this post on an upbeat note.