SAN DIEGO – A 12-inning game can reveal a lot about a team.
Wait. I already used that lede once tonight. ... Oh well. Still works.
Your friendly neighborhood beat writer does not like extra-inning games – or rain delays or blown saves on deadline, for that matter. But darn it if the Giants haven’t played an extraordinary number of highly, highly entertaining tilts this season, and we haven’t even dragged out the maypole yet.
They’re hell to write on deadline, but it’s captivating stuff.
I handled the big stuff in the game story and Instant Replay, but you really do learn a lot by watching a team play three extra-inning games in four days. Here are some of my other takeaways that I glossed over elsewhere:
[BAGGS - Scutaro: 'Everybody knows we're not playing as a team right now']
Pablo Sandoval is slow. In fact, I think the correct spelling is sloooww.
He didn’t get thrown out trying to stretch a single in the seventh inning. He got thrown out because he wasn’t fast enough to make it to second base on a double.
We had another recent glimpse of Sandoval’s current baserunning acumen, or lack thereof, in the 10th inning Tuesday night. I haven’t talked to third base coach Tim Flannery about his decision to send Sandoval from second base on Hunter Pence’s single, when Arizona catcher Miguel Montero practically checked his Timex between catching the ball and waiting for the Panda to arrive. But I have to think that Flannery was just as shocked as everyone else at how bad the play ended up looking, due in part to Sandoval’s lack of speed.
I can guarantee you this: The Giants coaching staff has noticed, too – and they’ll adjust for it. Here’s betting you won’t see Flannery send Sandoval in another situation identical to that one. Coaches don’t like to look dumb, after all.
(I tried to channel Flannery’s thoughts in the 10th inning after Sandoval hit a two-out single and Buster Posey stepped to the plate. I came up with something along these lines: “PLEASE HIT IT OVER THE FENCE BUSTER PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.”
One more thought on Pablo: It isn’t just the coaches that will adjust. So will opposing defenses. Sandoval gets a lot of hits up the middle, but since he doesn’t get down the line as quickly, the middle infielders can afford to play a little deeper. Tough plays become routine ones, such as his grounder in the 12th. And he’s going to lose hits because of it.
[REPLAY: Padres 8, Giants 7]
Chad Gaudin doesn’t wear batting gloves, but that doesn’t make him a gritty, experinced hitter. He’s 1 for 42 in his career. He was swinging away with Brandon Crawford on the move and one out in the sixth. I wrote about this play in both the other stories I filed after the game, but … I still can’t figure out what the heck happened.
Everyone knew Marco Scutaro wouldn’t hit .362, as he did last year after joining the Giants in late July. There is a reason the Rockies received only a relatively mild return (prospect Charlie Culberson) when they traded him. Don't forget, the Rockies paid a quarter of the remaining money on Scutaro’s contract, too.
But he’s really off to a slow start. Through 24 games, he is hitting .225 with a .263 on-base percentage (.544 OPS).
I looked it up: Through 24 games last season with Colorado, he was hitting .275 with a .333 on-base percentage.
That’s a better gauge than trying to compare current Marco to late-season 2012 Marco.
Former Giant Jonathan Sanchez drew a six-game suspension stemming from his ejection on Friday, when his outing went thusly: home run, home run, single, hit by pitch.
It’s six games but it really amounts to one, since Sanchez is a starting pitcher. That’s why the league does it that way. Still, I’m surprised the league came down even that hard. Anyone who knows Sanchez knows he doesn’t know where the ball is going when he starts overthrowing. Maybe he did it on purpose, but the phrase “reasonable doubt” certainly enters my mind.
Jean Machi is more valuable to the Giants than Hector Sanchez right now. That’s my thought, anyway, with Jeremy Affeldt needing a roster spot as early as Tuesday.
Brandon Belt had a couple of Beltish moments in the game. One was amusing and the other most definitely was not.
In the second inning, Belt tried to get out of the way of an inside pitch and it hit his bat for a foul ball. He had a look on his face like, “This could only happen to me.” Then the next pitch was a curveball that slipped out of Eric Stults’ hand and hit Belt in the back.
In the 11th inning, Belt really looked uncomfortable as he faced right-hander Dale Thayer. He swung at a breaking pitch out of the zone and that seemed to really bake his noodle for the rest of the at-bat.
Finally, he popped up a hittable pitch and flung his bat behind him in apparent disgust. The problem: the bat came within a couple inches of Padres catcher Nick Hundley, who recoiled to avoid getting clocked on the nose. I cannot imagine what would've happened if Hundley had gotten hurt.
Players lose their cool all the time on the field, but Belt really showed a lack of awareness right there. With no harm done, he'll have to take that moment and learn from it.
My drawers have drawers. Thanks for those who asked – including Greg Papa on the pregame show.
Longtime readers (and Jeopardy! viewers) are aware that I once participated as the Bratwurst in the great Milwaukee Sausage Race.
But I have to be honest with myself. As much as I love everything about those jogging cylinders of processed, encased meats, I think I saw something Saturday night that tops it.
The Padres’ Single-A club at Lake Elsinore has a guy -- a former sprinter, I'm guessing -- dress up in a squirrel costume with a big tail and take on all challengers in a race. Most of his opponents get a rather lengthy head start. He’s dubbed the “World’s Fastest Squirrel” and I don’t doubt it, judging from his closing speed. (Here’s a clip.)
The Padres were finally smart enough to bring this guy to entertain the big league crowd Saturday night, and it was epic. All the players stopped what they were doing to watch. I think Andres Torres might have still been thinking about the World’s Fastest Squirrel when he missed that line drive in the fourth inning.
Anyway, bravo, squirrel. You might want to make a phone call to the Giants’ Double-A Richmond club. If they’re smart, they’ll double your take-home pay. And it’s always a good idea to save up some extra nuts for the winter.