Phillies (43-77) at Giants (50-74), 6:05 p.m. at AT & T Park

Jerad Eickhoff (3-7, 4.33 ERA) vs. Ty Blach (8-8, 4.37 ERA)

by Dr Lefty

On Thursday night, Mark Melancon came into the Giants game in the seventh inning. He, Hunter Strickland, and Sam Dyson did a great job of protecting a one-run lead for Jeff Samardzija. But that wasn’t the interesting part of this story. Jon Miller, calling the game on TV, mentioned offhandedly that Melancon “needed a procedure” for his sore arm but was trying to pitch through it and get to the offseason.

I was all “Whaaaaaaaaat?!”  We all know Melancon has had a sore arm all season, but we’d all heard (a) no ligament damage (that still appears to be true) and (b) he just needed to rest it until the soreness subsided. This was the very first I’d heard of any “procedure” being needed. I immediately tweeted Henry Schulman and asked if he knew what was going on.

I’m not saying that it was because of my tweet in particular, but Schulman mentioned the matter in his gamer yesterday, and today he has a full article about it. There are others on and on

Mark Melancon seems like such a great guy. Remember the wonderful piece he wrote in The Players Tribune after he signed with the Giants last winter? We saw him pitch in Sacramento a few weeks ago, and it happened to be Dinger’s birthday. No, not the psycho purple dinosaur in Colorado. Dinger, the River Cat mascot. Our Dinger is way cooler than the Rockies’ Dinger.  Seriously, don’t take my word for it.  Check them out.

Dinger the River Cat



Dinger the psycho dinosaur


But I digress. So they were having a big birthday party for Dinger the River Cat. (Don’t ask questions like “What’s a river cat?” or “How did they know it was his birthday?” Work with me here.)  All the other mascots came and we all sang Happy Birthday to Dinger, and he threw out the ceremonial first pitch (didn’t go well). And all I could think of was Melancon’s story in his Players Tribune article about how much his young children love mascots and how fun it was that he was there, in Sacramento, on Dinger’s birthday. 

Melancon is already doing community work in the Bay Area, having Twitter contests to raise money for charity, and interacting with the fans. I’ve seen photos of him and his family with other Giants families at Disneyland on an off day and of his wife happily hanging with the other wives. Melancon didn’t just sign on the dotted line, take the money, and get complacent. He’s embraced being a Giant and he wants to contribute. And he has a pretty wicked sense of humor, too.

Melancon’s jersey choice for Players Weekend

I appreciate his remarks about how he wants to pitch despite his sore arm to set a good example, to help the team end this awful season well. I respect his attitude and his work ethic, and it sounds like his teammate and the staff do, too.

But I think I speak for most Giants fans when I say:  You can rest now, Mark. Nobody is doubting you. Your teammates know what you’re about, and so do the fans. The most important thing for all of us, especially you, is for you to be well and ready to go next spring.  We want the rest of your time in San Francisco to be a happy, successful run.  Lay it down for now.

Tonight’s Game

Have I mentioned how much I love Ty Blach? I’m sure I have. I look forward to all his starts and hope to see him bounce back from that rough outing in Miami. He’s a breath of fresh air this year. The Giants need to win just 13 more games to avoid the dreaded 100-loss season, and I think they’ll do it. Actually I think they’ll do more than that. Did you know they’re 16-15 over the past month and 10-7 in August?  There are signs of life. Hunter Pence is raking and racing again. Matt Moore’s had a couple great starts.  They’ve especially been playing well at home.

I know some of you want the team to keep losing and get the #1 pick. I don’t feel that way. The Giants are getting a high draft pick, regardless. But let’s go back to this point in the 2013 season. That was the Giants’ last losing season before now, and it felt awful, especially coming off the 2012 championship. But then they kicked it into gear the last 5-6 weeks, escaped the NL West cellar, and finished strong, with a walk-off comeback win at home in Game 162.  I was at that game, and it was a feel-good party out there. Big picture, it didn’t seem to matter–until 2014, when they came roaring out of the gate and ended up parading down Market Street on Halloween again. In contrast, think of last year–the whole depressing second half and the gut-punch playoff exit. Was there a hangover that carried into this year? Maybe. Baseball is a mental game as much as any is. You can get used to losing. And you can get used to winning again, too, just like in 2013.

Here are the lineups. Keep it up, guys! See you tomorrow morning with a recap.