Bochy on Belt: His hard work is paying off
Andres Torres' 11th inning mistake was just one of many Giants defensive breakdowns in a 6-4 loss to Arizona. (CSN BAY AREA)
SAN FRANCISCO – Andres Torres sat glumly at his locker. No, he did not anticipate that ball in left field. But he anticipated the question about it.
“Lost it in the lights,” he said, shaking his head after the Giants’ 6-4, 11-inning loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks Tuesday night. “I couldn’t see it. It’s hard, you know? We come all the way back like that, and …
“This game, man.”
Put aside everything else – the Giants’ 0-5 record in Matt Cain’s starts, their incredible late-inning resurrection, their snapped streak of nine consecutive wins over NL West teams – and this loss was about one thing.
The Giants did not catch the ball.
They made three errors and it began with the game’s first hitter, when shortstop Brandon Crawford had a rare and clumsy moment to open the door for a two-run inning against Cain.
Pablo Sandoval made another fielding error that Cain pitched around in the fifth.
Then the bullpen’s run of 15 2/3 scoreless innings buckled under the weight of two more mistakes in the 11th. First, Torres didn’t see Didi Gregorius’ line drive until it was too late, and it ended up being a hustling double.
Then Sandoval fielded pinch hitter Alfredo Marte’s grounder and threw across the diamond, where first baseman Brandon Belt dropped the long-hop throw.
Add a wild pitch and all the Giants’ hard work – along with Belt’s first career pinch homer, a dramatic tying, two-run shot in the ninth off Arizona closer J.J. Putz – was wasted.
Torres said he approached Casilla after the game to apologize. Belt took his share of the blame, too. He agreed with the official scorer’s rare decision to charge him with an error for failing to handle the throw.
“Pablo did the perfect thing there because that’s an easy play for a first baseman,” Belt said. “When you get that long hop, it can’t get any better than that.
“I might have taken it for granted there,” Belt said. “It came up on me and I didn’t watch it all the way into the glove.”
It’s easy to take the Giants’ defense for granted. Their lineup has been up and down, and it’s hard to say all is right with the rotation when the Giants still haven’t won behind their ace.
But catch the ball? That’s what the Giants do best.
Not this time, though.
If there’s anything else they could’ve done to mitigate their mistakes, it’s scoring with more frequency in the early innings. They’ve been outscored in each of the first three innings this season, and as exciting as these comebacks are, their rotation members have a pretty good track record for pitching with the lead.
Cain wouldn’t know anything about that. The Giants have scored just three runs for him over his five starts.
They didn’t begin their rally against Arizona lefty Patrick Corbin until the eighth, when Crawford’s triple snapped a shutout.
“We seem to get it going a little late at times,” said Belt, who had no choice since he came off the bench with great success for a second consecutive night. “I think we have a sound approach at the plate. Hopefully we can get it started a little earlier, let these pitchers relax a little bit and get into their groove.”
It’s a little late to start writing Extra Baggs tonight, but a couple of spare thoughts:
Cain did what Cain usually does. He fell on his sword, saying he keeps putting the team in a hole early and that has to stop.
Cain looked much better to me, aside from that one mistake fastball to Paul Goldschmidt that landed deep into the left field bleachers for a two-run homer. He said he felt better, too. His offspeed stuff had much more finish to it.
He’ll have to be much sharper in five days, since his next outing will come against this same Arizona lineup, in hitter-friendly Chase Field.
I wouldn’t fault Tim Flannery for sending Pablo Sandoval in the 10th, or Bruce Bochy for opting not to pinch-run Nick Noonan.
With two outs and the chance to win at home, you have to force the opposition to make a play. If Cody Ross yaks his throw up the line, the Giants get to use Hunter Pence as a celebratory punching bag. If Sandoval is out, then the game spins and you still have the last at-bat.
As for not pinch-running Noonan, Bochy wasn’t going to use his last bench player as a pinch runner when he’s the home team and they probably will need him to pinch hit. Also, Sandoval was the backup-backup-backup catcher at that point, since Guillermo Quiroz and Hector Sanchez already had been used.
On the road, down a run, you pull out all the stops and then sort it out later if you manage to tie the game. In a tie game at home, you manage a little more conservatively. The book’s the book for a reason.
Sandoval would’ve been out in any event – he was barely halfway home when Ross’s throw arrived. But it still should be noted that he got a really bad two-out jump on Pence’s contact.
Bravo to the official scorer, Dave Feldman, for switching up and giving the error in the 11th to Belt. Too many scorers go all brain dead whenever a throw is bounced. When it’s a long and true hop, a major league first baseman should be able to pick it.