Imagine for a moment that you’re a fan of the Washington Nationals.
You’re an 11-12 team, and you’re starting to get pretty disappointed by your team’s long-term, big-money investment in Jayson Werth, who even without his caveman beard is batting a scant .221. Your most promising pitching prospect in quite some time, who could easily break a few records in his career, will miss at least the entire season recovering from surgery, and you need to bat against the Phillies rotation 18 times.
Today, your team is facing a pitcher that can charitably be called “erratic,” who is doing his very best to leak some runs. He walked three batters in the first inning, and wound up with five walks and two hit-by-pitch in the first two innings. The one mistake that your team made, when Ian Desmond got picked off at first base, didn’t end up costing anything, because the shortstop dropped the ball. You even caught a break, when Mike Fontenot’s double hopped over the wall, preventing Miguel Tejada from scoring.
So how did they manage to score just one run?
Yeah, Nats fans, that’s kind of how we felt yesterday.
Today was not a good win, but it was a win and I’m certainly not giving it back. Sanchez was not lights-out, until all of a sudden he switched on his lights-out switch, or some such metaphor that isn’t quite so confusing. While Sanchez certainly didn’t have his best stuff, he really only allowed two baserunners – a walk and a hit – after the crappy first two innings, with 5 strikeouts.
I’ve referred to Sanchez as “The Coinflip” before, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him be this lopsided in a single game, and I doubt we’ll see anything this wild again soon. I mean really, the Nationals left 12 men on base. For a one-run game, that’s pretty significant.
The injury to Pablo Sandoval, a broken bone in his hand that will take about 4-6 weeks to heal, is certainly a blow to the already frustratingly bad offense that can, say, allow a shutout to Jason Marquis. Sandoval has been the best offensive player for the Giants, and it’s not especially close.
To spin this in a slightly better light, maybe the Giants will gear themselves more toward a speed-oriented team (ba-dum-ching!) with yet another injury. Ryan Rohlinger, who Bochy and Sabean have indicated will join the team, isn’t a fantastic base stealer, but with Darren Ford and Emmanuel Burriss on the team, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to think that Bochy might do whatever it takes to capitalize on whatever hits they can get.
There’s also a psychological aspect, which Grant at McCovey Chronicles has hinted at: there’s some something that happens when the team is in a bad spot, either by virtue of missing their best hitters or facing an ace pitcher, which really makes the batters dig in and concentrate. Whatever it is that has allowed the Giants to do well against Roy Oswalt, Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Halladay, and of course the invincible Cliff Lee, may let them find something to win without the Panda.
At least, that ‘s what I’m hoping for, because I can’t take another game like Friday’s. Also, Mazel Tov to Darren Ford on his first hit, and someone please get Scott Benz a new tie.