PHILADELPHIA First, allow us to officialize the obvious:
Verily, Gregor Blanco missed a suicide squeeze sign in theeighth inning Saturday night.
"Well, we werent trying the Kamikaze play with Busterthere Giants manager Bruce Bochy intoned.
Blanco flat missed the sign from third-base coach TimFlannery. Often teams have a failsafe in place in which Blanco must acknowledgethe sign, which is then relayed to the runner. But that didnt happen, either.
Buster Poseys face said it all as he stutter-stepped to ahelpless stop.
He was asked: Did he feel a sense of dismay as he retreatedinto a tag at third base?
Yeah, I mean, a sense of dismay is a good way to put it, Iguess, Posey said. Im sure Blanco feels worse than anybody about it, and Imsure it wont happen again.
Said Blanco: I didnt see it. I really missed it. It was myfault. I was just focused on driving Buster in. I didnt even pay attention tothe sign. Thats something that has to get better.
It got better, and quick. In the 10th inning, Bochy told Blanco in the dugout tobe alert for a safety squeeze if the situation presented itself. It did afterMelky Cabrera walked and Posey singled to put runners at the corners.
Blanco waited until he got ahead 3-1, knowing hed have theelement of surprise and no danger of a pitchout. And he knew itd work, sincethe Phillies are creaky on the infield.
I said to myself, you have another opportunity to win thisgame, Blanco said. It was 3-1, here it is. This is it. This is the rightmoment to bunt it. Yesterday my last two at-bats, I see that Utley is a littlehurt and even Howard. That was a perfect time.
Blanco reached on the bunt single and Cabrera scoreduncontested to give the Giants a 6-5 lead that they protected to beat thePhiladelphia Phillies and win for the seventh time in eight games out of theAll-Star break.
RECAP: Baggs' Instant Replay -- Giants 6, Phillies 5 (10)
There was just one more item to officialize: Does Blancostill have to pay the fine box for the missed sign?
I dont know, Blanco said. Thats a good question.
Maybe the second squeeze can act like traffic school. Anyway, despite his redemptive moment, Blanco made sure to doubleback to Bochys office after the game to apologize.
Bochy was upset at more than the squeeze that went awry.
Pagan had a base stolen twice and we were swinging away,he said. Weve gotten away with a few mistakes there.
Joaquin Arias was the transgressor that time. He fouled offone pitch and flied out on the next one.
Matt Cain and Cole Hamels homered off each other in thethird inning, and youll find a bunch of firsts and facts on that oddoccurrence in the Instant Replay file.
The best one: Mike Krukow was the last Giants pitcher tohomer in a game in which an opposing pitcher also went deep. It was in 1988 atSan Diego, and Padres reliever Mark Davis homered off Don Robinson.
Cain has six home runs. Thats one more than Krukow had inhis career. And it also means Cain has as many career homers and Kruk and Kuipcombined.
What did Cain think after Hamels responded with his own shotin the bottom of the third?
Im thinking hell probably try hard to do the same thing,Cain said. To give up a home run to a pitcher, its probably the mostfrustrating thing you can do.
CSNPhilly.com: Hamels' arm, bat not enough as Phils lose again
Cain was told he holds a 6-to-1 edge over Hamels, who hadnthomered in 420 career at-bats.
Yeah, Cain said with a harrumph. I dont know that itsany better to know thats his first one.
Maybe this will make Cain feel better: Hamels had neverallowed a home run to an opposing pitcher, either.
At least Hamels didnt go all Bryce Harper and plunk Cain inretaliation.
Among the gluttony of home run stats, there is this: ThePhillies hadnt gotten home runs from Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in the samegame and lost since June 9, 2009 to the Mets and Johan Santana.
Cain, asked if the Giants are playing their best baseball ofthe season as they reached 12 games over .500 for the first time:
You know what? It seems like were doing a lot of thingsright and a lot of the guys are finding ways to pick each other up. I dontknow if its our best baseball, but I know were playing really well and wehave to keep that going. We cant really think about it, if it is our bestbaseball. We have to keep doing what were doing and get the job done.
Barry Zito started this trip with a terrific effort and nowhe gets a chance to finish it Sunday.
Even better than winning four of five is how the Giants havedone it.
Theyre character building games, said Bochy, pointing outthat his club has snatched two victories in games when opponents hit home runslate to put them behind. We had one in Atlanta. We had one here, too. Theykept fighting. We had to score off their closer, too. They found a way to getit done.
Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera are sure playing their bestbaseball at the same time. Cabrera has been hot all season, but hes hitting.429 (9 for 21) with a whopping nine runs scored through five games of thisroad trip. Posey is the one knocking him in. Hes hitting .580 (11 for 19) witha home run and eight RBIs on the trip.
Posey hit a two-run shot as part of a four-hit night inSaturdays victory. His single set up the game-winning rally against JonathanPapelbon. All Cabrera did was turn the momentum with a diving catch, then hit atying solo homer in the eighth and walk in front of Poseys single in the 10th on his way to scoring the winning run.
Its not just Melky and Posey, Blanco said. Everybody isdoing the job.
When you start to look at some of the other regulars, yourealize how much Posey and Cabrera have been carrying this team.
Pablo Sandoval has been getting his hits with the basesempty but he seems incapable of driving in a run right now. He struck outagainst Papelbon just prior to Blancos squeeze.
Angel Pagan is frustrated. Hes been barking at umpires thewhole road trip and finally got tossed for arguing balls and strikes in thesixth inning. (He appeared to have a good case this time, it should be pointedout.)
Brandon Belt is really in a bad way. Hitting in the No.8slot for the second time in his career, he popped up to strand the bases loadedin the eighth. Then he had a chance to put the game out of reach with one out and the bases loaded in the 10th. He seemed to wave his bat through the zone more than swing it as he hit a lazy fly out to left field.
And it was right about then it clicked for me: If the Giantshad any alternative at all anyone Belt would be on his way to Triple-AFresno.
The Beltists make good points about the value of his on-basepercentage, and he is far from a lost cause. Belt still has believers in the front office. There is value in his glove, too. But sometimes Iwonder if his most fervent supporters watch the at-bats. It really hasnt been pretty.
I mentioned on Twitter that Belts OBP entering Saturdaysgame was .355. Fred Lewis OBP over his Giants career was .355.
Thats not to say Belt and Lewis are the same player. Itsjust to point out that on-base percentage, while significant, is not the sum of a player's value.
I always thought that Lewis often drew walks on accident because hewas so tentative. Maybe the same thing is happening with Belt. Maybe thosewalks arent a pure skill so much as a function of being tentative at the plate. And the more I think about it, we see some of the same slumpy body language from Belt that we saw from Lewisover the years.
Right now, the Giants cant send Belt to the minors. Butafter today, for the first time, I wouldnt be surprised if they did soon.