This game was frustrating. Very frustrating. And then exciting. And then frustrating again. And then it went to extra innings. Frustrating extra innings. And then OMG HE WAS F***ING SAFE AND YOU KNOW IT YOU SH*THEAD UMPIRE. And then frustrating again. And then our pinch-hitting options were
It started off typically enough. Homecoming stories are always warm and fuzzy. Friends, family, adrenaline. It's great.
When Brandon Belt played in Houston, he bought about a section full of tickets for people wearing "Keep Belt Awkward" shirts and rewarded them with a 4-5 day against the Astros. Brandon Crawford had a huge contingent out from Pleasanton to witness a go-ahead double against the Rockies in his home debut. Nate Schierholtz (Danville) and Pat Burrell (San Jose) have been well-documented in their ties to the local community.
Bud Norris came out of Novato, rooting for the Giants. Bud Norris throws hard. And when Bud Norris can throw his late-breaking slider on the outside corner and back it up with a 96 MPH fastball above the zone, he's going to strike you out. A lot.
The problem is, Bud Norris plays for the Astros. And when you come into AT&T Park and deal here in 2011, you're probably going to frustrate the Giants hitters* and maybe even come out with a win.
There has been a saying around San Francisco for the past couple years. When you pitch a gem, give up two runs, and lose, you just got Cain'd. This year it kind of morphed into being MadBum'd, who has a terrible record (8-12) despite a pretty decent ERA (3.59), but it all really started with Matt Cain.
So when Bud Norris had a one-hitter going into the seventh inning, and the Astros scored without getting a hit, and the Giants couldn't touch Norris' FASTBALL, you start thinking about getting Cain'd. Again.
Then Pablo Sandoval coaxed a walk. And Brandon Belt stopped striking out long enough to rip a single to right. And then Aubrey Huff came up to the plate, and for the first time since 2010, had a clutch hit off the base of the right-field foul pole to score Sandoval. And then Orlando Cabrera sacrificed in Brandon Belt, and the Giants had the two runs needed to sweep the series.
Instead, silly Matt Cain Cain'd himself and allowed another run in the top of the eighth. A knuckling liner that deflected off Orlando Cabrera for a single. A hit batsmen to a sub-.200 catcher. And then a single to let the Astros back in.
Matt Cain, don't you know that you can't make mistakes? Ever? That's how you have a sub-.500 record even though you're one of the most consistently good pitchers over the past five years.
The Giants went to extras. The Giants won in extras yesterday! Surely they could do it again. But how many times can the Giants come back in one game? We found out today. Two. That's it. They came back in the tenth on yet another Mark DeRosa The Hero moment, and promptly got robbed after DeRosa made a fantastic slide and the umpire blew the call.
And then, for the second inning in a row, the Giants bullpen let people on base. And let them score. Two things that they haven't done all year. Honestly, I just can't see them coming back three times in a game. I also didn't see Matt Cain, Jeremy Affeldt, and Ramon Ramirez all giving up go-ahead runs in the same game.
What it comes down to is this: If the Giants are going to catch the D-Backs in the NL West, they're going to have to WIN every one of these-type games for the rest of the year. Granted, they're all against sub-.500 teams (except next weekend's series against Arizona), but as we saw this weekend, that means nothing.
The Giants have to win. They won't win without late-inning thunder from the guys who can provide it. They will win if they score more than once a game. Bottom line, forget about trying to catch Atlanta. The NL West isn't exactly there for the taking, but it is still theirs as champs to defend.
This is the last month of the season. Again, it all comes down to this. If they come back, it'll be a great story. If they don't, we can just blame Tommy Lasorda and his voodoo doll.
*The Giants almost hit below .200 in this series. Against the MLB cellar-dwelling Astros. Against two pitchers (JA Happ and Brett Myers) who were combined 7-27 this year.