Saturday, September 25, 2010

COL 10, SF 9: That Was Not Good, Folks

Okay, maybe this game wasn't as bad as that infamous Ryan Spilborghs grand slam in the 14th inning game, but this one was all sorts of messy. Normally, I might write some sad excuse for a recap, but this game deserves some in-depth analysis.

Right away, the Giants got on the board with an opposite field home run from Freddy Sanchez to give them a 1-0 run in the 1st. It was an encouraging start especially because the Rockies starter, Jason Hammel, wasn't looking too sharp. Unfortunately, Barry Zito didn't have his best game either. In the bottom of the 1st, Zito walked 2 batters and gave up 2 hits, resulting in 2 runs. The Giants got solo shots from Andres Torres and Aubrey Huff in the 3rd, giving them the lead, but Zito couldn't protect it.

The 5th inning was a disaster and that's really where the game changed. The Giants now had a 4-2 lead, but Barry Zito gave up a pair of triples to start the inning. With a 4-3 lead and a runner on, Bruce Bochy pulled Zito mid-at bat to bring in Chris Ray from the bullpen. Some didn't like the move to take out Zito so early, but I had no problem with it. He was wild and could never get on a roll. I did take issue with the decision to bring in Chris Ray, though. All year, Ray has been the pitcher that Bochy goes to when the Giants are trailing by a run or two, not with a 1 run lead on the road. It seemed like an odd choice, especially with guys like Casilla, Lopez, Ramirez, Romo, and even Mota and Affeldt available. Anyway, Ray allowed a 2-run homer to the first batter he faced, Troy Tulowitzki, and the Rockies had a 5-4 lead. The inning wasn't over as Ray gave up another deep flyball, Cody Ross slipped, and the Rockies had another triple. At the end of all that mess, the Rockies had scored 4 runs and had a 6-4 lead. There were defensive issues, bad strike zone calls, and questionable managerial decisions. It was the definition of a disaster inning.

And then the Rockies had their own version of a disaster inning. After losing the lead in such a disgusting way, the Giants didn't seem affected by it. Juan Uribe and Mike Fontenot lead off the inning with singles. Pinch-hitter Travis Ishikawa then blooped a single to score a run. The next batter, Cody Ross, hit what seemed like a flyout to left field, but it turned out to be a home run. Freddy Sanchez then doubled and advanced to 3rd on flyout, eventually scoring on a wild pitch. Five runs and a 9-6 lead. Life was good again.

But then there was more weirdness. I'm sorry for the back and forth, but this is how it felt. The Rockies scored in the bottom of the 6th to make the score 9-7. Fast forward to the 8th inning when the Rockies had two runners on with 2 outs and Brian Wilson was brought in to try for a 4-out save. The batter was Troy Tulowitzki, who hit that 2-run homer earlier to give the Rockies the lead. This time, Tulowitzki lifted a high flyball to right field that hit off the wall. The Giants were lucky that it wasn't hit out, but in any case, the Rockies tied the game and gave Wilson his 5th blown save in 50 opportunities. No one scored in the 9th, so it was on to extras.

Extra innings were no different. Tulowitzki screwed the Giants again. One out, a runner on 1st, and Tulowitzki hits a ball to the left-center gap. It took extra long for Burrell to get to the ball because he was playing the line. He had no chance, and the Rockies won the game.

Besides the constant lead changes, this game was weird on so many levels. After a pitcher's duel the night before, this was a typical Coors Field game. The Giants' streak of 18 games allowing 3 runs or fewer is over. The strike zone was kind of ridiculous and inconsistent all night. It could be argued that in the 5th inning and 10th inning, bad balls and strikes calls affected the game, but I won't make excuses. Andres Torres had to leave the game early with slight discomfort. He hit a home run and it doesn't seem too serious, but you have to wonder if he was rushed back too soon. That's a huge deal. The Braves, Padres, and Rockies all won today, and the Giants are no longer in first place in the West. But I find myself not too upset about the game and I don't really know why. Maybe it's because it was unlikely that the Giants were going to sweep on the road at Coors Field, and out of all the games, this one was the one they were most likely to lose. Of course, that means they need to win tomorrow, but I might have more confidence in Matt Cain than any other starter on the staff.

It was a loss, but this being the most important series of the year so far, it's really lived up to expectations. We've known that this race would probably come down to the wire and this game felt like playoff baseball. It doesn't even matter that much that we're half a game back in the standings because it goes back and forth almost everyday. This is exciting, intense baseball.

Sorry for the very long recap. There was so much to cover and I wouldn't be surprised if there mor then a few errrs in their.

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