The Giants were supposed to be lost without Buster Posey. And for a couple games, they were. They were despondent. Listless. Oh, and they couldn't hit.
But then something happened, and the theme that seemed to get the Giants through most of 2010 came back. That theme? Different day, different hero.
Yesterday it was the 7-8-9 batters that took center-stage. Matt Cain was Matt Cain, and sprinkled in some old Matt Cain by putting himself on the board with an RBI double in the sixth. Eli Whiteside was 2-3 with the go-ahead run in the sixth and then the insurance-run single in the seventh. He also threw down the signs while Matt Cain was being Matt Cain.
Now, Eli Whiteside is not Buster Posey. We all know that. But he had two big hits yesterday.
And other people are starting to step up. While Posey was slowly building his way up to .300, Freddy Sanchez was doing the same, and has since come into his old form that we remember from last year, taking the ball the other way and, like Posey, hovering around .300 for the past couple weeks.
And because of the disappointing year that Aubrey Huff has been having (even as I write this, he's rolling over a breaking ball to second and audibly frustrated on the TV mics), Sanchez has been moved to the three spot. For some reason, though, I can accept that.
Randy Winn was never a number three hitter, but for some reason, when Mike Fontenot and Freddy Sanchez hit third, I don't lose any sleep over it. But Sanchez has been clutch over the past month, and that's good for the Giants. Cody Ross has also been hitting a little bit, and Nate Schierholtz has had some big hits as well.
But the biggest surprise in Posey's absence has really been Brandon Crawford. Not Brandon Belt, who was placed on the DL with a broken bone in his wrist, but shortstop Brandon Crawford. With Miguel Tejada not doing anything at all, and Pablo Sandoval hurt, Crawford has emerged as this year's kid to watch.
Sorry guys, but Nate Schierholtz is no longer a kid to watch. And Manny Burriss, as much as I love him, isn't either. Both of those guys have had their share of major league experience. And Crawford is John Stamos! What's not to love? That play up the middle in the seventh yesterday saved a run, and even though that run ended up scoring, it was still a pivotal point in the game.
The Giants haven't had a shortstop with his kind of range since Omar Vizquel. I'm not saying that he has Vizquel range (yet), but as Andrew Baggarly said it best yesterday. It just hasn't happened recently. And then the kid, who hit a grand slam in his major league debut (in case you forgot), delivers a go-ahead hit in a low-scoring series to back a hard-luck pitcher.
Crawford is playing the part right now, and it seems to be shifting around every game. And on a team where your biggest stars are on the mound, the lineup has to be full of heroes in order for you to win. The Giants are doing that right now, and they're doing a pretty fine job at defending their title so far in 2011, even without their cornerstone catcher.