SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants expect to be a different team when they return to AT&T Park in a little less than two weeks.
They’ll get Brandon Belt back in a matter of days. They’re hoping to have Angel Pagan atop their lineup again, too. And maybe they’ll have a new double-play partner for shortstop Brandon Crawford, whether he goes by Emilio or Asdrubal or Harcourt Fenton Mudd.
(He probably won’t go by Dan.)
Maybe then, with something nearer to a complete lineup, the Giants will be able to establish some kind of comfort zone again at AT&T Park. It certainly has eluded them for the better part of two months, although the Pirates were sloppier than they were in the Giants’ 7-5 victory Wednesday afternoon that separated a disappointing homestand from becoming a historically bad one.
They did not become the first team in the San Francisco franchise era to get skunked on a homestand of six games or more. They went 1-5.
“We put the ball in play today with two strikes, and that was the difference,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “It was a good ground attack and then we went to the blooper, and it worked out today.
Tim Lincecum had his shortest start in two years and the Giants didn’t have an extra-base hit. But they dinked and dunked 12 singles, and their bullpen was outstanding again while throwing 5 2/3 scoreless innings.
Andrew Susac had one of the hits, the first of his career -- an RBI single with the bases loaded in the third. It came one trip after Susac struck out with the bases loaded. His thought process the second time?
“Get a good pitch to hit and don’t miss it like I did before,” Susac said.
Good advice. That’s what Bochy wanted to see one day after his hitters flailed away against Francisco Liriano, sending a clear message to the manager that his hitters were pressing.
Gregor Blanco reached base four times and Joe Panik drew a bases-loaded walk as part of a three-run first inning. Susac got a souvenir after he snapped a tie with his hit in the fourth.
“I was just standing on first base making sure I didn’t do anything wrong,” said Susac, who let the cheers of a standing ovation wash over him as he smiled. “It was awesome. Talk about an adrenaline rush.”
Who gets the ball from his first hit?
“My dad earned it,” the kid from Jesuit High in Sacramento said. “He stuck around through a couple 0-fers.”
The Giants still needed another rally, with the tiebreaking run scoring in the seventh on a gift-wrapped passed ball. They also received charity in the sixth, although there was nothing virtuous about a team that somehow turns a walk into a double play
It happened when Jean Machi walked Chris Stewart with runners at second and third. Travis Snider got caught jogging off second base, apparently confused into believing the bases were loaded.
“I threw it back and put my head down, and all of the sudden I’m getting ready for a pickle at home,” Susac said.
Machi said he was aware of the runners, but he acknowledged that shortstop Brandon Crawford was yelling for the ball, too.
Give Crawford credit. He isn’t hitting, he had a long chat with Bochy prior to the game about making mechanical adjustments, and he dropped a throw earlier in the sixth for his 16th error – the most among major league shortstops, if you can believe it.
But when Crawford could have been at his lowest point, he kept his head in the game. That has to count for something, doesn’t it?