SAN FRANCISCO Matt Cain served up a leadoff home run to aguy who hadnt gone deep in 629 at-bats.
Wednesday nights game got stranger from there.
The New York Mets had 18 baserunners, scored just two runs and won.
The Giants committed the greater sin by letting them off thehook. Well leave it to David Wright to provide the analysis:
We shouldve lost that game about nine times over.
No wonder relievers George Kontos and Clay Hensley sat intheir chairs with their arms wrapped in ice, staring into space. No wonder theclubhouse had a vibe like theyd just accidentally put a winning lotto ticketthrough the trash compactor.
Hunter Pence has been here just 24 hours. But hes playedbaseball all his life. He knows how a missed opportunity looks and feels.
There was a ton of excitement, it was loud, it was rowdy,and we had a crazy game, said Pence, who was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts inhis Giants debut. Unfortunately, I didnt do what they brought me here for.But its Game One.
For the Giants, its game No.104. And by the grace of God,its its another day in first place, since the Dodgers got swept at home bythe Diamondbacks.
Then again, that made the missed-opportunity feeling in theGiants clubhouse all the more hollow in the gut. Youd better believe they areaware that Arizona is just 2 games back.
This is a juncture in the schedule when the Giants needed to start climbing. Their current 10-game homestand matches their longest of the season. Now their best hope is to win behind Barry Zito on Thursday just to finish 4-6, and split a four-game series against a subpar opponent.
You never want to be forced to get well on the road, and after Thursday, the Giants will play 19 of their next 29 games away from AT&T Park.
Back to Pence for a moment: He came in with unimpressivenumbers against Mets lefty Jonathon Niese (3 for 20) and he only felt he hadone good at-bat Wednesday, when he fouled off four consecutive pitches one ofthem a long foul fly down the right field line before striking out.
I might have been trying to calm myself down too much,relax too much, Pence said. There was a lot of adrenaline. But Niese was on.Ill give him that.
Ill keep grinding. I wont be 0 for 4 every night.
The Mets were abysmal with runners on base, but credit theGiants defense with making some huge plays to save runs.
And cue up another highlight for Gregor Blanco, who hauledin another full-extension catch that left 41,000 slack-jawed. While this onedidnt preserve a perfect game, it did keep the Mets from scoring a run in afourth inning that couldve turned from homely to hideous.
Matt Cain is now officially spoiled.
Blanco picked me up again, Cain said. Who knows whatcouldve happened after that? That was a momentum builder. We just couldntcapitalize on it after that.
How does Blanco rank that catch among his best?
Second, he said, without hesitation.
Just like that remarkable catch June 13, Blanco took acouple extra steps to his right because he was reading the pitch.
I knew he was going to throw away, so I was guessing if hehit it, hes going to put it in the gap, Blanco said.
Will Cain come to expect every ball to end up in Blancosglove?
Thats what I like, Blanco said. I say to him, Make themhit everything to center field. I can get it. That gives him trust so he canthrow his pitch and dont worry about anything, because we have a greatdefense.
Pence walked up to Blanco and told him it was the best catchhes seen all year.
You just got here, Blanco told him, smiling.
So what the heck was wrong with Cain? He almost neverapproaches 100 pitches in five innings. Hes given up eight home runs in hislast six starts, too.
I did feel fine in the bullpen, but for some reason, I wentout there and it just changed, Cain said. I was battling myself the wholetime and couldnt throw early strikes. It was a constant struggle. It was along five innings for me, and definitely not what I want to do.
Cain didnt get the support to win and he did well to limitthe damage, but he blamed himself for letting the Mets dominate time ofpossession.
I just put our guys behind the 8-ball, Cain said. I didntget them in the dugout fast enough to get something going.
So Pence had plenty of time to bend blades of grass in rightfield. At least bird legs lady wasnt there to heckle him this time.