SAN FRANCISCO The Giants 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, for all its hard and empty contact and Latos intolerance, was frustratingenough for the home side.
Now imagine having to spend the entire evening stinking likeyou just got blasted with beer in a clinching clubhouse party.
Brandon Belt only smelled like victory.
I landed right on a full cup of beer, said the Giantsfirst baseman, who flipped over the rail and into a field-level suite whilemaking a spectacular catch of a foul pop in the first inning Saturday night.
I was wearing a beer-soaked uniform the rest of the game.
You didnt have a chance to go into the clubhouse and changebetween innings?
Naw, I just went with it, he told me.
The Giants are a long way from any series-clinchingcelebrations. After losing their first Game 1 in their last nine tries datingback to 2000, the best they can hope to do is win behind Madison Bumgarner on Sundayand then take two of three in Cincinnati.
BAGGARLY: It's all about the rebound after Giants drop Game 1 to Reds
Thats a less daunting thought for the Giants than it mightbe for most teams. They had a 10-1-1 series record on the road after theAll-Star break, after all.
And if youre a Giants fan desperate for more puppies and rainbows, justtake a gander at what Belt, the Baby Giraffe managed to do in his firstpostseason game:
After squashing the butterflies in a tumble of beer andcheers on that first-inning catch, Belt showed patience while drawing a pair ofwalks. He squared up a pitch from emergency long reliever Mat Latos, whicheasily couldve been a double instead of a double play into the glove of firstbaseman Joey Votto.
He didnt allow the game to get too fast, or his eyes to gettoo wide.
I felt pretty good, for the most part, Belt told me. Threeof my four (plate appearances), I was very happy with. Its all part of what Iwas trying to do: Breathe, slow the game down and be in the moment. Let thegame come to you.
As for that hard-luck liner? What went through his mind atthat instant?
Well, it happens, but you keep doing the right things,itll fall in the next time, Belt said. It seemed it was that way all nightlong, though.
As it turned out, the high point of the Giants evening cameon the games second batter.
That play, I got under it and I didnt think Id have to gothat far, to be honest, Belt said. I kept drifting and tried to keep my eyeon it as long as I could. I hit the rail and I couldnt keep myself from goingover.
Was he surprised that no fans were there to catch him?
Oh, no, they were getting out of the way, he said. Theysaw those size 15s coming at their heads. Im sure they were moving quick.
Just not quick enough to save their liquid investments.
But maybe Belt is on the verge of a postseason worthy of a toast.
Matt Cain did not look pleased when Bruce Bochy told him hewould exit for a pinch hitter in the fifth inning. After the game, Cain wasasked about his reaction, and backed up his manager.
Well, yeah, as a starter you dont want to come out of thegame, Cain said. Hes got to do that. Were down and hes got to get a guy onbase. Thats what he has to do . (Aubrey) Huff had a good at-bat. It justdidnt work out.
Taking out Cain at that juncture also held his pitch countat 75, allowing him to come back and pitch on short rest in Game 4 should theGiants face elimination.
Thatll be the case unless the Giants sweep the next threegames.
I am told the Game 2 ceremonial first pitch will be thrownby someone with Giants baseball ties. Im going to put money on Barry LamarBonds.