Here is Chad’s post-game NSFW rant as he drove home. Be prepared for F-bombs and general surliness.
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I flew solo for TortureCast in the press box tonight, trying to bring some good luck to the men in black and orange as they began the day with a dismal 4-13 in their last 17, watching the Dodgers trim 7 1/2 games off their lead in a mere 2 1/2 weeks. Unfortunately, the Giants threw the first pitch tonight already knowing that the Dodgers crushed the Cardinals, trying to come within one game of the NL West lead.
Matt Cain was on the bump tonight, having a dismal year with only one win and an ERA near 5, the highest of all five starters. It’s hard to say that any game in June is a “must win,” but as a fan, I felt like tonight was just that. I think the psychological effect of their plummet back to the Dodgers has already played with their minds, but actually falling into second place may do more damage than the players and coaches would be willing to admit. They needed a boost, a vote of confidence, something, even if someone found an extra 20 dollar bill in their left pants pocket, that might turn an at bat around.
Cain was on the precipice of disaster early and often, but kept pulling out the Houdini card, with the Reds going 0-6 with runners in scoring position through the first five innings. He scattered 6 hits and a walk through 5 innings before he had his first 1-2-3 inning in the sixth (after an overturned call on a 6-3 put out on Bruce).
With run support for Cain again near the bottom of the league (10th worst entering tonight), we all feared that he’d get “Cained” again. After the first run of the game was driven in by the ever-exciting ground out, Cain seemed to feed off of that sole bread crumb to make it work in his favor. He shut down the Reds fairly well after that, leaving with an emphatic fist pump and yell that was audible from the press box after a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play to end the seventh. Although Cain toed the rubber in the 8th, he was pulled after a pinch hitter was announced. Affeldt and Casilla quickly took care of all three Reds in the 8th.
The sputtering offense cried for help as Panik deposited his first hit into the confines of AT&T Park, but any hope of a rally was doused when Tyler Colvin grounded into a deftly-turned 4-6-3 double play. Blanco followed with a hit, but was caught stealing to end the inning in a play that was challenge and upheld on the field.
Last time we attended a game, Romo entered to a jubilant AT&T crowd in the first game of three against the Rockies. We all know how that AND the next game went in the ninth. With Jay Bruce looming third in the order, the press box was buzzing about the impending rematch of their epic 10 pitch at bat in Game 5 of 2012 NLDS. With his recent shaky track record, this time, the crowd was moderately gyrating their hips to “El Mechon” as Romo warmed up.
I tweeted this before Romo threw his first pitch:
My ‘spidey senses’ aren’t feeling it this inning. Please prove me wrong, Romo. Two power lefties up this inning.
— SF Giants Podcast (@TortureCast) June 29, 2014
After the dreaded leadoff walk to Votto, Romo threw two fantastic frisbee sliders to Phillips before getting the count to 2-2. Then, Romo completely lost control, flipping a slider over the dead heart of the plate where, on “All Brandon Weekend,” the wrong Brandon took Romo deep to suddenly crush the crowd’s spirit as the Reds all of a sudden took a 2-1 lead. It’s the 5th blown save for Romo. He’s on pace for 10, as we’re at the halfway mark. I have always agreed to let Romo work out his kinks, but I think I’ve jumped the fence and just may want Casilla out there. In fact, both Mesoraco and Ludwick took consecutive balls to the wall with missed location. A few extra feet, and the game would have been 4-1 at that point.
Chapman, having just received his flame-throwing super power serum, came in to slam the door on the proverbial fingers of the orange-clad crowd. The Giants showed spunk with a leadoff single by Pence, followed by a truly “earned” walk in an epic 11-pitch at bat. Buster Posey, after donning his cape, came off the bench to deliver a crowd-pleasing double to the left field wall, tying the score at 2 and bringing the crowd to their feet and the Reds infield in for Hector Sanchez, who untimely hit a weak grounder to short for the out. Arias pinch hit for Crawford and duplicated Sanchez grounder to short for the second out. Duvall completed the heart-crushing end to the inning by striking out on Chapman’s 30th pitch of the inning, which registered 100 mph.
Nothing gets my goat more than not being able to score a runner from third with no outs. It’s simply abhorrent. What’s even more puzzling is Bochy’s decision to pinch hit Arias for Crawford. Sure, there’s the traditional righty vs lefty argument, but the stats are firmly against any of this normally sound baseball strategy. Crawford was hitting .338 against lefties this year, slugging over .600, while Arias came in hitting .176 against EVERYONE and hasn’t had an extra-base hit in over 100 at bats.
Nonetheless, we moved onto free baseball, where Gutierrez got through a slightly shaky tenth. Jonathan Broxton come in to pitch the home-half, and Panik squeaked a hit off of Phillip’s glove up the middle and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brandon Hicks. Blanco flied out to third on the first pitch, leaving it up to Pence to revive the Giants’ early-season amazing ability to drive in runners in scoring position with two outs, but Pence couldn’t muster up Posey’s heroics, striking out weakly.
Javier Lopez entered the 11th and quickly gave up an opposite-field double to Joey Votto, setting up the intentional walk to Phillips to set up the force. Bruce attempted a sacrifice bunt, and when Lopez fielded it, he had a clear shot at third, yet whipped around and threw to first after a quick glance. Panda’s body language said it all as he bent over at the waist for at least 10 seconds, showing a bit of frustration with another missed opportunity. Mesoraco was issued another intentional pass, and Machi came in to face Ramon Santiago, pinch hitting for Ludwick with one out and the bases juiced. The Giants tried to turn the Reds trick of getting out of a tough jam, and it looked promising after Machi struck out Santiago. Unfortunately, the magical bullpen faltered and allowed the .230 hitting Cozart to drive in two runs with a single to center and double up on the Giants 4-2. Not like it mattered, but the nail in the coffin was delivered in the form of a 2-run triple by Chris Heisey and an RBI double by Hamilton, pushing the lead to the eventual final score of 7-2.
And to think it was a 1-0 game in the bottom of the ninth.
With the Dodgers destroying the Cardinals earlier in the day, the Giants once lofty 9 1/2 game lead is down to a single game. All of this in less than three weeks. The brief euphoria of Lincecum’s no-hitter is not just gone, it’s left the.
The wheels have fallen off of not just a car, but a black and orange 18-wheeler.