You can read the box score yourself. Hits: Giants 9, Braves 3. Team left on base: Giants 8, Braves 1. Runs: Giants 2, Braves 3. Throw in the fact that Giants players drew two walks and failed to give one out makes this one of the more frustrating games of the season. Tables were set, little shrimp forks were placed just to the left of the salad forks, and the centerpiece was gaudy and extravagant, something like this. The big hit- hell, even the medium ones- continue to elude the Giants.
Staring at the numbers, the prime example of the clutch-hitting inequality is Pablo Sandoval. While Panda is batting .303 on the season, his average drops to .284 when there are any runners on base, and .246 w/RISP. Blimey, the Giants’ stud third basemen becomes a league-average hitter (100 wRC+) when a hit would likely score a run. Considering Sandoval hits after Cabrera and Posey, who each get on base at a nice clip, this creates a black hole in the Giants lineup. Tell me how many times we’ve seen this scenario in the second inning:
Sandoval: Unproductive out
37? With Sandoval’s lack of timely hitting, Belt’s walks all of a sudden can become unproductive. With good hitters in front of him and black holes behind, Belt’s walks add a scant amount of pressure to the opposing team while allowing them to face an inferior hitter. Somehow this expose on Sandoval’s lack of clutchitude turned into a Brandon Belt rant. These are the things that happen after losses.
Despite my fruitless foray into lineup construction and clutch numbers, my painstakingly researched and well-developed opinion is as such: the hits will come. Sure, it’s possible for a team, over the course of an entire season, to hit with runners in scoring position like Emmanuel Burriss does all the time. It just isn’t likely. The 2010 Giants hit a massive wave of power hitting in the second half of the season, which carried into the playoffs and onto Market Street. I can’t remember a single time after July 2010 that a runner reached base without trotting home.
But the 2012 Giants are good enough to win the NL West despite not hitting in the clutch. A little progression to the mean from Lincecum and a healthy Buster Posey practically assure it. So while we kick and scream about black holes in the lineup and holes in Belt’s swing, the Giants have 2 ½ months to figure out how to deliver like the 2010 Giants did.
Madison Bumgarner did not pitch a gem. A mineral? Pyrite? There has to be a name for this. Oh ya, quality start. The Giants were on a 12-hour break from baseball after one of the most unnecessary 12-inning games in Giants history. After sending Bumgarner to be early last night, Bochy needed his starter to go deep into the game. A few balls got hit hard, the Giants (read above please don’t make me repeat it), and Bumgarner took the loss. But the bullpen was preserved for what I can only imagine will be a series of pitcher’s duels in Philly, and MadBum should sleep soundly knowing he gave his team a chance to win
Brandon Watch 2012:
Crawford: Aside from the throw that ended the game in Washington (which I defend vehemently), when was the last time you remember Crawford bungling a play? Done. Valuable.
Belt: Another series where Belt supporters retreat into the bushes, afraid to make a sound and upset the Natural Order of Baseball. Braves pitchers found nothing cute about Belt’s take-first approach, pounding both sides of the plate, with Tim Hudson re-opening the hole in Belt’s swing on the inner half of the plate. Baseball wisdom would tell you Belt should be able to hit that pitch from a righty, but our eyes tell us a different story. Though, on the bright side, Belt’s struggles open the possibility of Eli Whiteside catching against the Phillies. Your move, Placido Polanco.
Stats of the Day:
43: Combined steals by the Three Amigos
38: Steals by Giants outfielders in 2011 (I didn’t count Darren Ford because that’s why)
.751: Belt’s OPS
4: Where Belt ranks on the Giants in OPS, behind only Posey, Panda, and Melky