So, the Giants were 2-0 with TortureCast crew covering the game. We figured it was a lock to win tonight.
Zito has a squeaky-clean stat sheet at home (4-1, 1.68), so as long as he didn’t don his road grey by accident, we figured to be in for another victory. All in all, it wasn’t so bad at the start. Like the last Zito start that we covered vs. the A’s in May, when he walked the pitcher, who later scored the only run he allowed that day, Zito allowed a leadoff double to Volquez (the pitcher) to lead off the third right after proffessing my happiness that the pitcher was leading off the inning.
Then the fourth inning came. After a harmless first two outs, Will Venable laid down a perfect drag bunt down the first base line. Belt fielded it, but Abreu couldn’t reach first base in time. A swinging bunt ensued right after, and again, it could not be covered. Alas, in round two, Zito got the better of Volquez.
As Joe Castellano, and I were chatting in the back of the press box, the Giants strung together some seeing-eye singles and a loud out to generate 3 runs and take the lead. Admittedly, I missed most of this so that will have to do for an explanation. You’ll see later why this is mostly irrelevant.
Zito was cruising, up to 8 strikeouts in the top of the 6th when he hit a bump in the road with a lead off walk, but almost got out of it when he induced a near double-play (bad throw by Abreu off his back foot) that turned into a fielders choice, then a fly out to center before giving up a hit to put runners on the corners. Bochy then called on Machi to close the door on the inning, which he did, but not before giving up a free run to the Friars with a wild pitch. With the score now 3-2, Machi opened up the top of the 7th by giving up 3 consecutive singles that tied the score at 3 before ending the inning with a 6-4-3 double play to preserve the tie.
The Giants couldn’t muster any offense after the fourth inning, getting only one hit in the fifth before Blanco was erased by a double play, which began a string 14 consecutive Giant outs.
Romo entered the ninth to try and redeem himself from his two-walk, ninth inning, blown save in Atlanta on Saturday. He wasn’t sharp, but was saved by the incredible throw from Juan Perez in center to gun down Forsythe trying to go from first to third on a single. Instead of runners on the corners with 1 out, the situation was minimalized. Despite a stolen base to put the runner in scoring position, Romo struck out Blanks to end the threat.
After Sandy Rosario had a 1-2-3 10th, the Giants had a promising situation with a one-out single by Quiroz. Lady luck then effectively mooned the Giants when Blanco seared a line drive that Thayer snagged and proceeded to double off Qurioz. That could’ve been runners on the corners with 1 out.
The 11th inning greeted Rosario with a solid single by Ciriaco, who incidentally had his first three hits of the season tonight, and was instrumental in generating offense for San Diego tonight. Amarista, pinch-hitting, sacrificed the runner to second for the top of the lineup to take a couple of cracks with a runner in scoring position. With Jose Mijares getting ready in the pen, Rosario struck out Forsythe and Headley after falling behind 2-0 to both hitters. That doesn’t happen that often.
Our saga in the press box continued late into the night, as the bottom of the 11th opened up at almost 11:00 pm. Kyle Blanks roped a double down the left field line, followed by a ground out to second to move him to third. After an intentional walk to Grandal, Javy Lopez came in to face Will Venable, whom promptly attempted a safety squeeze, but dragged it foul. Lopez worked the count to 1-2 before inducing a weak wave of the bat for strike three and the 15th strikeout by Giants pitchers for the night. The young Ciriaco, having a good night, weakly waved at Lopez’s slinger for the 16th K of the night.
Belt led off the bottom of the 12th with a single to right and was sacrificed to second. After Torres struck out pinch-hitting for Rosario, the play of the night happened next. Juan Perez smashed a soaring drive to deep center field and every one was certain it was the walk off hit we had been waiting for, but Will Venable some how got on his imaginary horse and made a spectacular catch, very similar to the one that Blanco made during Matt Cain’s perfect game last year. It absolutely stunned the crowd, and the press box, but the fans showed some baseball class when they applauded Venable as he headed to the Padres dugout.
Jose Mijares allowed two singles to open the 13th, the second of which seemed to elude Tony Abreu, as it may have sliced on him. It was hit hard, but came off his foot as he tried to readjust. The ball, which was a duck in right field now, allowed Amarista to chug to third. The Padres then pinch hit with Cashner…a starting pitcher, whose job it was to bunt over the runner on first to avoid an inning ending double play. It worked much better than imagined as he pushed a beautiful bunt past the charging Arias and into no-man’s land to drive in a run and give the Padres the lead. Mijares’ agony continued as Pence made a valiant effort with a sliding attempt of a catch across the right field foul line, but could not hold on to it. With the runners holding, it was only a single and didn’t allow a run, but now the bases were loaded with one out. Bochy called on the youngster Jake Dunning, the last pitcher in the Giant pen, who came in on a bizarre double switch with Posey taking over for Belt at first base. The rookie induced a broken bat soft line out before succumbing to nerves by walking a run in and extending the Padres’ lead 5-3.
Huston Street came in to close out the game uneventfully.
Overall, a game that should’ve landed in the win column. From the free run(s) given up by Rosario to the game-saving superman catch by Venable in centerfield in the 12th.
Giants should have been 3-0 with TortureCast in the box.
Willie and I went down to the post-game presser, and Bochy admitted to having a “brain cramp” with the Posey/Belt double switch. All of us in the press box were mystified when it happened, and even Renell had to announce the double switch 3 times over the PA system. He meant to swap Quiroz with Posey, so that he would lead off the bottom of the 13th inning, but he admitted to being upset about the fair ball call down the line (we did think it was fair, btw), and he announced the switch to the umpire before he realized his mistake. Willie asked the last question of the night in regards to what would have happened if Dunning had come up with the bases loaded in the 13th. Bochy said that Gaudin was up in the pen, and Scutaro would have pinch hit for Dunning. That little nugget, dug up by the TortureCast crew, made a lot of the bloggers and papers headlines. Nice job, Willie!
Afterwards, we went to Zeke’s and dissected the game with zany behavior and nonsensical jabber. I suggest you listen to it.
Thanks to the Giants once again for their progressive, forward-thinking stance on allowing small fish like us, to have access to the press box.