Greek Giant

For my money the most interesting thing about last night’s disappointing 6-4, ten inning loss to the Dodgers at Willie Mays Field was the cost the Giants paid for not playing a strong, clean game defensively against a team with a vastly superior lineup. The wild pitch thrown by Jordan Hicks in the top of the fifth inning was barely waved at with a backhand by Blake Sabol, doing the emergency catching duties because of the injuries to the Giants’ starting and backup catchers, Bailey and Murphy, respectively. That pitch allowed Max Muncy to advance to second base. Then, with two outs Shohei Ohtani hit a fairly routine slow roller to Thairo Estrada who could not come up with the ball cleanly, allowing  Muncy to tie the game with a run. Had the wild pitch been blocked Muncy is at second and Ohtani is at first with Freeman grounding out to end the top of the fifth inning with the Giants leading 3-1. Instead it was 3-2 and that run was the difference between a Giants win and a tie game in the bottom of the ninth. These are the types of defensive lapses you cannot make against a better team, against your top rival, and against the Dodgers at home when you are trying to win a ballgame. They seemingly always come back to haunt you.

On the bright side, Yaz made a spectacular leaping catch in the top of the fifth inning to rob Mookie Betts of a double, maybe even a triple and the Giants turned a nice double play started by Matt Chapman in the most flawless form you ever saw. Casey Schmitt also made a beautiful play on a hard smash.

Here is Yaz:

But let’s get back to the game, in particular the first inning.The game started off inauspiciously for Jordan Hicks when Mookie Betts homered off a hanging slider on the inside corner on a two-strike count. It was good hitting and Betts, ever the opportunistic player, jumped all over a breaking ball to give the Dodgers the lead. Hicks would give up a hit to Freeman in the inning as well but then prevent any more runs from scoring.

The Giants got their revenge in the bottom of the second inning of Japanese phenom, Yoshinobu Yamamoto when Flores and Sabol singled in front of Luis Matos’s three-run homer on a hanging curveball. It was a gorgeous piece of hitting and it livened up the fans and the Giants bench in the process.

The Giants scored a run in the bottom of the sixth on a Ramos single to make it 4-3 but the Dodgers tied it in the seventh and plated two runs in the top of the tenth inning from a Will Smith Double off Taylor Rogers. The Giants failed to score in the bottom of the inning and that was it!

In this game the Giants were victimized by poor defense, poor pitching matchups, a leaky bullpen and mismatches with their pitching against Dodger hitters, in particular the Enrique Hernandez homer, a righty against lefty Eric Miller and the double by Will Smith, a right against lefty Taylor Rogers. It’s something that Bob Melvin may want to re-think for the rest of the series.

The Giants Need a Catcher

With all the Giants injuries that have now added Matos, Ramos and Schmitt to the everyday line up the offensive has not missed a beat. But it’s the injury the catchers that hurts the Giants the most. The catching position is more than a backstop. The catcher calls the game, dictates the rhythm and knows when and how to intuit which batter will hit what pitch and in what situation. His job is to find the weakness of every hitter in every given at bat and in every given game. There was nobody better than Buster Posey.

Oh, and the catcher has to block errant pitches! He must also throw out a runner once in a while. If a good defensive catcher hits a lick, it’s gravy. For the Giants, as much as I respect Blake Sabol as a hitter and I respect his hustle, he does not have the tools to catch at the Major League level.

It sure would have been nice to have Joey Bart right about yesterday…

Injury Update

The Giants officially put Jung Hoo Lee on the ten-day Injured List yesterday. His official prognosis is due today. In addition to Lee, the Giants have Conforto, Snell, Murphy and Ahmed out with injuries with Patrick Bailey scratched from the lineup that past two games due to a cold. The Giants are playing it very cautiously with Bailey to make sure his cold symptoms are not related to the concussion he suffered about ten days ago. Snell should make his return to the starting rotation this week.

A Word About the Attendance

There was also attendance. I saw, from various videos, barely 20K fans in the most beautiful ballpark in the planet for a game between two of baseball’s most intense and storied rivals. The listed official attendance was above 30,000 but they eyes do not lie, Giants fans! There is apathy among us. There is the belief that this team is not worth going to the ballpark for. There is a feeling that it costs too much money to see a middling squad mid-week, even against the Dodgers.

That should tell you something, Giants ownership!

Tonight’s Game

It’s Stone Vs Winn in game two of the series, tonight at 6:45 PM at Willie Mays Field.