Kruk & Kuip: 'They're finding ways to lose right now'
Jeremy Affeldt walked two and recorded just one out Tuesday in the Giants' loss to the Mets. (AP)
SAN FRANCISCO – OK, so the “Major League” movie franchise isn’t a work of art in any strict sense.
But one of those films featured a Japanese outfielder named Tanaka who enlivened the team with his circus catches in left field.
So if life didn’t imitate art Tuesday night at AT&T Park, it at least paralleled a campy movie sequel.
But even Kensuke Tanaka’s surprising catch at the wall, and his first major league hit, couldn’t do more than provide momentary relief. There is no laugh track in a losing clubhouse – and certainly not anywhere near Jeremy Affeldt’s locker after he allowed the tiebreaking run to score in the eighth and then set the stage for Marlon Byrd’s grand slam in the Mets’ 10-6 victory.
Affeldt’s movie references listed more toward “A Perfect Storm.”
“Try to weather the storm? Yeah, you try,” the left-hander said. “But the waves are getting kind of high.”
If it’s not one thing, it’s another for the Giants. On a night when their meager offense scored six runs against pedestrian right-hander Dillon Gee, Barry Zito and Affeldt combined to issue six of the Giants’ eight walks. Five of them scored.
Affeldt has more walks and hit batters (19) than strikeouts (18) this season. And he’s blown several leads for Matt Cain – one of the major reasons the Giants have exactly one victory by a starting pitcher not named Madison Bumgarner in their last 28 games.
“We’re giving up more runs than we’re getting and I’m a huge part of it,” Affeldt said. “It stinks, to be honest. I really stink. … There are big parts of that bullpen that we need and I’m coming up short on my end.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy took a long time before walking into the interview room after the game. The first question: Are you getting to the point where it seems you can do nothing right to win a game?
“No. I’ll never feel like that,” said Bochy, mentioning that he liked the way the offense moved runners and manufactured runs – and how Gregor Blanco caught a bad break when he smoked a line drive into Gee’s glove to start a double play.
“The mood, the tempo, the spirit of the club – it’s been good, all through this.”
The same question to Affeldt yielded a different answer.
“That’s the feeling just because it seems everything we’re trying to do ends up not being a positive outcome,” Affeldt said. “Right now, I might be the biggest issue. I can’t tell you what’s going to work. We’re working hard, I can tell you that. Maybe we’re working too hard, if that’s possible. It’s spitting in our face right now.
“Any possible situation that could go wrong has gone wrong, and I’m not at all helping us have a consistent, winning outcome.”
Said Bochy: “More than anything he’s fighting it. He’s such a critical part of our bullpen. He’s taking it pretty hard when things don’t work out. He knows how much we need him. He needs two, maybe three good outings to get started on a roll. I think sometimes these guys put too much pressure on themselves. I think he’s putting too much pressure on himself.”
At least someone had fun out there. Tanaka, who gave up a $2 million guaranteed contract in Japan to sign a minor league deal with the Giants, made his major league debut a memorable one for everyone in attendance.
The career second baseman leapt at the wall to take a hit away from Andrew Brown in the second inning, and pumped his fist when he realized the ball was in his glove.
Was he surprised?
“Yes,” he said.
Does he hope to bring a little life to a team that’s been on a respirator for two months?
“I came here to bring something new to the team,” he said.
Tanaka wore No. 37, which was intentional on clubhouse manager Mike Murphy’s part. That was the number worn by Masanori Murakami, who became the first Japanese player in the major leagues when he appeared with the Giants in 1964.
Tanaka also drew a walk and scored in the seventh inning. His hit, which came with a sheepish smile, a doff of the helmet and a quick bow, contributed to a run in the fifth.
He’ll be in the lineup again Wednesday, Bochy said.
“I thought it was a good debut,” Bochy said. “He looked comfortable. He had fun out there. He looked loose and relaxed. That’s what you’re hoping to see and that’s how he played.”
The Giants might have reenacted more than one scene from “Major League” on Tuesday.
There was a strong smell of burning incense in the clubhouse as it opened to the media in the afternoon. Maybe a ritual? A bat bonfire? A sacrifice to the almighty Jobu?
At this point, nothing is too crazy to try. Not even signing Jeff Francoeur, who’s expected to join the Giants on Thursday in San Diego.
For now, the Giants are losers of 13 of 15, they’re nine games under .500 and no amount of patchouli can cover over this kind of stink.
Santiago Casilla should help take some pressure off Affeldt. He could be activated during the San Diego series. It's taking longer because he hasn't been sharp while allowing 12 baserunners in five innings while on rehab assignment for Single-A San Jose.
Nick Noonan might be headed back to Triple-A Fresno when Jeff Francoeur is added to the roster on Thursday. But at least he might get a nice parting gift. Francoeur has worn No. 21 in the past, which is Noonan's current issue. A watch is the standard offering in these cases. Maybe times have changed and Noonan will ask for an iPad instead.