Belt expected pitchers duel, drove in six runs instead
Over his last 30 games, Brandon Belt is hitting .344 (42-for122) with 21 runs and three home runs. (AP)
LOS ANGELES – It’s like drinking a cup of hot water.
There’s nothing to savor in delaying your archrivals from clinching the NL West while you're in the house to see it. But at least it’s something to sip.
The Dodgers won’t celebrate a division title at home. That much was assured even before the Giants throttled them as they’ve never been throttled in Chavez Ravine before, in a 19-3 victory Saturday night.
The second-place Diamondbacks finished their game a little earlier, and their victory made it impossible for the Dodgers to clinch any earlier than Monday, when they begin a nine-game road trip. Their magic number remains four.
Brandon Belt, who combined with Hunter Pence to drive in 13 runs, acknowledged he was glad to force the party to another venue – one where the noise won’t force them to clap a pillow over their head.
“It’s definitely nice to do that here in LA and know they can’t clinch in front of us,” Belt said. “That helps out a little bit.”
Belt said Giants players didn’t talk much about the Dodgers’ magic number, or when they could clinch.
“But it’s something we were definitely aware of,” he said. “Nobody likes to see somebody clinch on them.”
You’ll find most of the firsts, figures and fun facts in the Instant Replay after the Giants scored the most runs by a team in a game in the 51-year history of Dodger Stadium.
But how about this: In the past week, the Giants set a scoring record in the NL’s second oldest ballpark and they also saw an errorless streak end after 13 games – the longest in their modern franchise history.
This team, of all teams. The team that spent two months unable to hit. The team that forgot how to play defense. The team that is trying desperately to avoid joining the 1998 Florida Marlins, a team that was dismantled, from becoming the only defending World Series champions to finish in last place.
This team did both of those things.
“It does show we are capable,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
About last place…
The Giants are still in last place, but it’s now a three-way tie (by percentage points). The Rockies have an identical 68-81 record. And the Padres are one game better in the loss column.
If the tumblers fall the right way, the Giants could be a third-place team on Sunday.
The Giants lead the season series against the Dodgers, 8-7, with four to play – including three at AT&T Park.
And the Giants still have the best intradivision record against NL West teams, at 39-30.
A lot of the talk Saturday was about RBIs and wins, and yes, those are two stats that lead to a lot of eye rolling among some fans who embrace advanced metrics.
They aren’t the most important stats for evaluating players. But they still mean something – especially within the clubhouse. And Tim Lincecum managed to win his 10th game Saturday night, marking the sixth consecutive season he’s reached double-digit victories.
Only three other pitchers have done that in the Giants’ San Francisco era: Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry and Kirk Rueter.
“I’m just happy to get one any day,” Lincecum said. “I kind of try to look at the whole season and I’ve had positives and negatives. I guess double-digit wins is pretty good.”
Better than the alternative.
Lincecum said what appeared obvious: He didn’t mean to throw at Yasiel Puig’s head one pitch after giving up a home run to Alex Castellanos.
“I wasn’t trying to pitch there, so that made it scary,” Lincecum said. “It was pretty close to the head so I just gestured, let him know I wasn’t trying to do that.”
Lincecum tapped his chest and mouthed the words, “my bad.”
Puig left the game after five innings and appeared to injure himself while making a diving catch on Buster Posey’s sinking fly ball with the bases loaded. Turns out he landed hard on his, well, private parts and so Don Mattingly took him out of the lopsided game. He’s expected to play Sunday.
It was hard not to miss the irony of Lincecum’s comment when asked about Hunter Pence:
“It’d be tough to see him not in this uniform.
So many fans feel the same way about Lincecum.
Tony Abreu pulled the old trick when the ball from Johnny Monell’s first big league hit rolled to the dugout. Abreu picked it up and in one motion, flipped a decoy ball over his head and into the stands.
Ehire Adrianza collected his first hit later in the game.
And what about Lincecum’s two hits?
“Yeah, I don’t know what happened to me,” Lincecum said. “It was swinging and hoping, and today I hit it a little better than usual.”
The timing was funny, since I had just talked to him about his hitting for this story.
It’ll be Zack Wheeler against Yusmeiro Petit in Tuesday’s series opener at Citi Field in New York.
Congrats to the San Jose Giants on another outstanding season. And to the Inland Empire 66ers, who made the city of San Bernardino beam with pride after sweeping their way to a Cal League championship on Saturday.
I’m expecting a special section from the San Bernardino County Sun, which was kind (foolish?) enough to hire me out of college.