Sunday, April 18, 2010

They Really Had This One Coming to Them

Barry Zito did not deserve what happened to him Sunday.

The Giants got EXACTLY what they deserved.

Despite outscoring the The Hated Dodgers 18-12 in the weekend series, the Giants dropped two of three to their intrastate rival and did so in decidedly gut-wrenching, Giants-like fashion. The only thing missing was a Steve Finley sighting.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen this (@$# you Ryan Splibourghs) and I certainly don’t expect it to be the last.

First, the positives. Okay, this is singular, but Zito absolutely dealt. He got ahead of hitters, he made good pitches, and he avoided the free pass the way vampires avoid sunlight. The one guy he did walk played a major role in the decision, but blaming Zito for that was like blaming Hugh Hefner for Barbie Benton getting old. He was around to see it, but hardly the cause.

Three major culprits today:

The obvious goat is Sergio Romo, who teed one up for a rastafarian malcontent who may or may not be in a family way -- or so his pharamcist says. It was one too many Frisbee breakers to a guy who makes a living off stupid decisions.

Dishonorable mention to Bruce Bochy, for bringing Romo into a spot where everyone, even Vin “I should have retired a decade ago but no one has the guts to fire me” Scully expected Wilson – our best against theirs.

Don't forget the Giants offense (like we could), which once again failed miserably. Jeez, my kingdom for little offensive consistency.

A coupe of things are clearly at work here. The biggest issue is the compelling argument that the Giants pitching is overrated. I’ve said this before, and I‘ll stay with it until someone listens. They have some great pitchers. That doesn’t mean the have great pitching. I’d stack the Giants’ 1-3 against any team in baseball and Wilson is a solid closer (although he sometimes channels Don Stanhouse). I like Affeldt, but I keep wondering when his luck is gonna run out. The rest of the staff is a high wire act.

Case in point: Sergio Romo. He’s been effective more often than hot, but I remain skeptical. He is, for want of a better term, a gimmick pitcher. He relies on an assortment of odd angles to confuse hitters. The problem with those guys is, the more you see them, the less they deceive you. Think Noah Lowry. Once people figured out he only had one way to get outs, his effectiveness waned. Hideo Nomo, Mark Fydrich – the list is long and distinguished.

If there is any justice in the world, Romo got to the locker room only to find Zito had set his clothes ablaze.

You certainly don’t bring a gimmick pitcher in to face another team’s best hitter with the game on the line – even if he is coming off the bench. Regardless of what the rulebook calls a “save”, that’s when the game was being decided. Saving Wilson for the ninth actually required getting to the ninth with a lead. So much for that. Bochy botched it, plain and simple.

And again I’m totally disgusted with the Giants bats. They had eight ABs with a runners in scoring position, and the only hit was a slow curve Bengie took in the hip. Eight tries: one walk, one HBP, six outs – only one of which left the infield. Pathetic. I saw a lot of 2009 today, and it wasn't any prettier in reruns.

The Dodgers had one chance. They made good on it. Good teams can hit. Check that, good teams can hit when it matters. Everyone is a hero when it’s 9-0 (calling Pedro Feliz!). When the game is on the line, the real players step up. Today that player wore blue.

For a team to contend, it has to win games like this one. At season’s end, one or two games can make all of the difference. If the Giants come up short, they’ll look back at a day in April when they let this one get away.

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