I must be some sort of soothsayer sent from the baseball gods to predict baseball future—half man and half Cooperstownian, my powers must never fall into the wrong hands… Humility aside, I would like to personally take some credit for Hunter Pence’s game winning home run yesterday which coincidentally simultaneously beat the Rockies and the spread. He hit a heck of a ball yesterday which elicited my loudest moment of baseball induced joy in the solitude of my apartment since the season started. The Giants really needed that five run, 8th inning for an amalgamation of obvious reasons which I will briefly outline below.
- A win is a win, you gotta win games to win a pennant. Simple enough.
- A series loss to the Rockies at home would’ve been pretty demoralizing even though the Dodgers did exactly that thing last week.
- The Dodgers beat the Hanley-less Marlins earlier in the day and the Giants were in jeopardy of sharing the lead with the hated boys in blue.
- The Giants haven’t won a series at home since they took down the San Diego Padres in late July. The win allowed the Giants to even out their post All Star break record at home to 8-8.
- With a potentially tough series against the Nationals starting today, the late offensive surge will hopefully provide momentum and serve as a springboard for the Giants to propel themselves forward alla McKyla Maroney.
It was the near perfect setting for Hunter Pence to get his first home run in San Francisco colors—the only thing that could’ve made it better for him would’ve been if Buster Posey had struck out, leaving the bases loaded for a grand slam that erased the one run deficit. There have been a lot of Pence naysayers—or “Pence Sitters” or “Pence-ive fans” as we refer to them at UpRightBaseball—but 42,000+ people left AT&T Park yesterday with a much better feeling about him. Pence also came up with a huge, diving catch in Triple’s Alley in the 4th inning to quell the Rockies rally, disproving some of those who say he’s virtually a scarecrow in right field.
However, the unsung hero of the game is definitely Brandon Belt who went 4-4 with two doubles and a walk. Between those two guys, the Giants definitely have the most awkward and gangly players in baseball. Watching Belt hustle into gear to steal bases or to dig out a double is probably one of the more comical images despite his surprising speed. In fact, I’ve come up with my own personal nickname for Belt as a result of his running gait. I call him the “Night Train” because it takes him a couple steps to get going but once he hits his speed he can carry his caboose around the plates all night—it honestly looks like it’s hard for him to stop going.
It was great to see both of those guys come up big especially with all of the criticism both players have been receiving from Giants fans as of late. There’s always a touch of beautiful irony when you watch a guy who was on the precipice of being booed and heckled by the hometown fans receive a “we’re not worthy” bowing ovation which is precisely what Pence got when he returned to right field in the 9th.
Buster Posey continued his excellence, putting in a tremendous, nine fastball at bat against the Rockies rock solid closer, Rafael Betancourt, before scoring Joaquin Arias on a sacrifice fly to tie the game. He also drew three walks and singled on his only official at bat of the game. Melky Cabrera and Ryan Theriot each grabbed two hits.
The late game theatrics and the game winning home run from a slumping hitter gave the game a certain throwback feeling to 2010. At this point, no one can say the Giants aren’t a hitting team as the lineup has really started clicking over the last few weeks. Granted, there are still times when the Giants offense reverts to its anemic roots but all and all everyone seems to be on the upswing, so to speak. Over the course of the last week, the team wide batting average is 24 points higher than the number for the season—.287 versus .263. On base percentage and slugging percentage are also much higher during this period in comparison with the rest of the season—OBP: .361 versus .323. SLG: .442 versus .387. The Giants have also stolen nine bases over the last week which is nice to see. Bruce Bochy doesn’t like playing small ball or risking base runners which often infuriates me but it seems like he has given Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt a yellowish-green light on the base paths.
The bullpen has been up and down but I still see no reason for concern, Sergio Romo is throwing like his old, nasty self and Jeremy Affeldt has put in some great appearances. I’ll be writing about Pablo Sandoval’s return later today which will likely remove one of the relievers from the active roster, probably Brad Penny. An important thing to note is that Guillermo Mota’s 100 game suspension is due to end in in the next two or three so he’ll be able to rejoin the team when the rosters are expanded. Mota isn’t a lights out pitcher but he does do a solid job of eating up innings and holding the game close which may prove crucial considering the amount of work the starting staff has put in thus far.
I’m looking forward to this upcoming series against the Washington Gnats. The Giants got swept in three tough games in DC and hopefully they will be able to repay the favor and tie up the season series.