Tonight’s game was vintage NL West. The Giants got up big in the first inning, and then fizzled. The Padres fought back in the second, and then fizzled. Madison Bumgarner, who looked shaky early, settled down and allowed just 3 hits, a walk and a hit-by-pitch – and 7 strikeouts – after the second inning. Edinson Volquez, part of the Mat Latos trade, looked shaky early but allowed zero hits and just 3 walks after the first inning. All told, the bottom of the second to the top of the ninth was pretty boring to watch.
Vintage NL West.
Tonight was also nothing like last night’s game, when the middle of the Giants lineup mashed against Clayton Richard. Tonight, no Giant got more than one hit, and only Nate Schierholtz and Ryan Theriot reached base more than once. No, tonight was about pitching, defense and frustration.
Recently on the podcast Thomas and I called out Angel Pagan for his apparent lack of hustle. It’s hard to miss that Pagan has looked frustrated at the plate, and he’s been awful since the All-Star Break, batting just .229/.282/.286 coming into tonight’s game. He seems to be arguing balls and strikes more, and got tossed in Philadelphia. The last couple of days, he’s been dogging it on the basepaths, not running out grounders or really showing much effort out there. I’m not going to back off any of those comments, but holy crap. H/t to @gidget for the GIF.
Here’s a link to the video on MLB.com. Off the crack of the bat, I didn’t think Pagan had a chance to catch that, but holy crap. That, combined with a hit in the ninth to move the winning run into scoring position, will make me eat my words. Thanks, Angel.
The big news tonight, aside from the Giants gaining a game on the Dodgers and one win short of a 2/3 win percentage at home, is Pablo Sandoval. After doing the splits to catch a double-play throw in the third, Sandoval left the game with a strain of his left hamstring. After two DL stints in two years with broken hamate bones, Sandoval just seems to have bad luck. This brings up two thoughts: first, if Sandoval has to miss time, how will his conditioning suffer? Secondly, what could Sandoval do if he finally has a full, healthy, in-shape season? 30 HRs? I can’t wait, and I hope it’s somewhere around the corner.
It’s all been said before, but Madison Bumgarner. Real durn good. It’s easy to talk about how terrible the Padres are, but after they averaged just 3.51 runs/game in the first half, they’ve been a legitimate offense since the break, with 4.64 R/G. They’ve been hot, at least as hot as the Padres can get, and Vogelsong and Bumgarner have done a great job of throwing cold water on their resurgence.
Brandon Watch 2012
Belt: It’s hard to know what to think about Belt. After his much-quoted blog post, calling out “the media” for calling out his supposed body language, today would have been a great day for a dominant showing. Instead, we saw Belt strike out badly twice after coming in for the injured Sandoval, thereby confirming everyone’s worst thoughts about him. Instead, he came up in the ninth and went 0-2 to a walk, then advancing to second on Pagan’s single and to third on a passed ball that barely got away from Yasmani Grandal, then scored on Brandon Crawford’s walkoff. The walk was especially impressive, looking at the chart of pitches.
Those are close pitches, particularly number 8, and Belt did a great job. If he can continue to work walks while he’s working through his slump, that will go a long way toward easing the pain of his at-bats.
Crawford: Only one hit, but came through when it mattered. Aside from the walkoff hit, Crawford also had a perfect cutoff throw on Pagan’s catch and their eventual double play in the 8th. Despite what we’ve said in the past about Brandon Crawford’s offense, he’s really been turning it up recently. In fact, his numbers have gone up progressively every month, culminating in a .271/.314/.438 July before tonight’s game. We’ve always said that a .240 Crawford with excellent defense would be very satisfactory, but what if he could be better? Also, given that the average NL shortstop is hitting just .260/.313/.386, it’s very easy to be happy with Crawford.
Stats of the Day
11:36 pm: Time I found out about the Hanley Ramirez trade
3: “Future Hall of Famers” plunked by Felix Hernandez today
2: Fantastic double plays by the Giants today
21: Combined strikeouts in tonight’s game
20: Career steals by Nate Schierholtz
2: Extra-base hits by Madison Bumgarner in 2012
1: Extra-base hits by Emmanuel Burriss in 2012
Bonus Stat of the Day
15: Fights that broke out between people arguing over whether tonight’s catch was better than Gregor Blanco’s catch in Matt Cain’s perfect game